Cinema in Context

How To Do

How many long documentary films were shown in the Netherlands in 1934, and in which countries were those films produced?

For this question we will work with the My Data set: by saving data and modifying it in Access, we can create a pivot table of documentary films and countries of origin.


Step 1

  • Open Cinema Context in a new window
  • Click on Films at the top of the page.
  • Select non-fiction under Limit search to.
  • Enter ‘1500’ and ‘12000’ in the fields marked film length between.
  • Enter ‘1933’ and ‘1934’ in the fields marked film shown between.
  • Select both under ‘Limit search query to’.
  • Click on search films
  • Search results will list ‘1 to 10 of 26’, meaning that 26 films have been found that match the search query.
  • Click on save all to my data.
  • In the My Data window (if the window is not visible, click on My Data at the top of the page), click on download contents. Save the file holding the results in a folder that is easily accessible.

Step 2

In order to answer this question, you must have the file HowToDoInAccess.xslt on your computer. If you have not yet installed this file, then use the method in our FAQ Where do I find the transformation file and what is it for? and move on to Step 3. If you have installed this file before, then follow the procedure outlined below.

  • Launch MS Access.
  • Click on File > New in the top left corner.
  • On the right side of the screen, select Blank database.
  • Create the database in a folder that is easily accessible.
  • Click on File > GetExternalData > Import.
  • Select XML from the pull-down menu Files of type and select the file you saved earlier (your saved data set) with the data you have found.
  • Click on Options > Transform.
  • Select HowToDoInAccess, click on OK to confirm and then on OK again to import the data.

You will now see a series of tables on the right-hand side of the database window (if not, click on Tables under Objects on the left-hand side of the screen).

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Step 3

In order to find the desired data, we you will design a search query. The query will choose the relevant table and select the required records from it.

  • Click on Query under Objects on the left and then double-click [button] on the right. A help window with the names of all tables will appear.
  • Select tblTitle and click Add. This table contains the film titles you have found.
  • Click on Close and the window will disappear. The table is now in the upper half of the query module.
  • Drag film_country in tblTitle to the first column in the lower half of the query module.
  • Drag title_id in tblTitle to the second column in the lower half of the query module.
  • Click on (Totals) at the top of the toolbar.
  • In the column fim_country, select Group By in the line Total and Count in the line title_id. The query will now count the number of films per country. The result will look more or less like this:

  • If you now click on View > Datasheet view you will see the following table:

  • The column of counted titles numbers that were counted has already been sorted by size. You can do that yourself by placing the cursor anywhere in the right column and then clicking on in the toolbar.
  • Save the query by clicking on File > Save in the toolbar, and save the query with a recognisable name like DocuCountries.

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  • What qualifies as long? A long documentary in this example is a film that is at least 1500 meters in length. A feature film from the 1930s would usually be at least 2500 meters long. But documentary films of 1500 meters were also frequently released and screened as main attractions in film programmes.
  • In this example, Cinema Context only counts films of which a public screening is listed in the database. Not all programmes from all cities are listed recored in the database, but those from most larger Dutch cities are. The listed total can therefore be seen as a minimum number. There may be a few films of which we have no knowledge about screenings yet, but there will only be few of those, especially in a year as late as 1934. The further you go back in history, the greater the chance that the screening of a film is missing, especially before 1918. Long documentary films were of course quite rare back then, as you can see for yourself in the Cinema Context database.