I love a gritty, kitchensink drama – the stark images and situations portayed are a million miles from the glitz and glamour of mainstream UK and US cinema of the day. So I’m quite looking forward to seeing the British Film Institute’s definitive collection of films from the late 50s’ Free Cinema movement, available as a DVD boxset from Monday March 13th.
Free Cinema was the precursor for the British New Wave of social-realist (aka kitchensink) films in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The term Free Cinema was coined by critic and film-maker Lindsay Anderson (If.., O Lucky Man! ), when he, Karel Reisz ( Saturday Night and Sunday Morning ), Tony Richardson (A Taste of Honey, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner ) and Lorenza Mazzetti screened a programme of their short films at the National Film Theatre on 5th February 1956. They were ‘free’ because they were made outside the framework of the film industry and featured a more realistic subject matter previously ignored by the big studios – featuring ordinary, (mostly) working-class people at work and play.
For full details of the boxset contents and extras, continue reading the article.
O Dreamland (dir. Lindsay Anderson, UK, 1953, 12 mins)
Momma Don’t Allow ( dir. Karel Reisz/Tony Richardson, UK, 1956, 22 mins)
Together (dir. Lorenza Mazzetti, UK, 1956, 52 mins)
Wakefield Express (dir. Lindsay Anderson, UK, 1952, 30 mins)
Nice Time (dir. Alain Tanner/Claude Goretta, UK, 1957, 17 mins)
The Singing Street (dir. Norton Park Group/Nigel McIsaac, UK, 1952, 18 mins)
Everyday Except Christmas (dir. Lindsay Anderson, UK, 1957, 40 mins)
Refuge England (dir. Robert Vas, UK, 1959, 27 mins)
Enginemen (dir. Michael Grigsby, UK, 1959, 21mins)
We Are the Lambeth Boys (dir. Karel Reisz, UK, 1959, 52 mins)
Food for a Blush (dir. Elizabeth Russell, UK, 1959, 30 mins)
One Potato Two Potato (dir. Leslie Daiken, UK, 1957, 21 mins)
March to Aldermaston (anonymous, UK, 1959, 33 mins)
The Vanishing Street (dir. Robert Vas, UK, 1962, 18 mins)
Tomorrow’s Saturday (dir. Michael Grigsby, UK, 1962, 18 mins)
Gala Day (dir. John Irvin, UK, 1963, 26 mins)
Small Is Beautiful: The story of the Free Cinema films told by their makers (2006), an exclusive 43-minute film consisting of specially commissioned i nterviews with Free Cinema filmmakers Lorenza Mazzetti, Walter Lassally, Alain Tanner and Michael Grigsby; film extracts and previously unseen photographs
A specially curated collection of five rarely seen short films from the late 1950s/early 1960s, made in the spirit of the Free Cinema movement
40-page, fully illustrated booklet including a general introduction; the original manifestoes, notes on each of the 16 films, plus a further reading list and web links