Free Cinema

Free Cinema


The BFI has compiled for the first time, the definitive collection of films from the 1950's Free Cinema movement. Free Cinema not only re-invented British documentary making, but this highly influential period in the country's cinema history was the precursor for the better known British New Wave of social-realist films in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The term Free Cinema was coined by critic and filmmaker 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 5 February 1956.

The films were 'free' in the sense that they were made outside the framework of the film industry, and that their statements were entirely personal. They had in common not only the conditions of their production (shoestring budget, unpaid crew) and the equipment they employed (usually hand-held 16mm Bolex cameras), but also a style and attitude and an experimental approach to sound. Mostly funded by the BFI's Experimental Film Fund, they featured ordinary, mostly working-class people at work and play, displaying a rare sympathy and respect, and a self-consciously poetic style.

Film Listing

- O Dreamland (Lindsay Anderson, 1953, 12 mins)
- Momma Don't Allow (Karel Reisz | Tony Richardson, 1956, 22 mins)
- Together (Lorenza Mazzetti, 1956, 52 mins)
- Wakefield Express (Lindsay Anderson, 1952, 30 mins)
- Nice Time (Alain Tanner | Claude Goretta, 1957, 17 mins)
- The Singing Street (Norton Park Group | Nigel McIsaac, 1952, 18 mins)
- Everyday Except Christmas (Lindsay Anderson, 1957, 40 mins)
- Refuge England (Robert Vas, 1959, 27 mins)
- Enginemen (Michael Grigsby, 1959, 21mins)
- We Are The Lambeth Boys (Karel Reisz, 1959, 52 mins)
- Food For A Blush (Elizabeth Russell, 1959, 30 mins)
- One Potato Two Potato (Leslie Daiken, 1957, 21 mins)
- March To Aldermaston (1959, 33 mins)
- The Vanishing Street (Robert Vas, 1962, 18 mins)
- Tomorrow's Saturday (Michael Grigsby, 1962, 18 mins)
- Gala Day (John Irvin, 1963, 26 mins)

Special Features

- Small Is Beautiful: The Story Of The Free Cinema Films Told By Their Makers (2006, 43 mins): interviews with Free Cinema filmmakers Lorenza Mazzetti, Walter Lassally, Alain Tanner and Michael Grigsby; film extracts and previously unseen photographs
- Five rarely seen short films from the late 1950s-early 1960s, made in the spirit of the Free Cinema movement
- 40-page booklet including an introduction; the original manifestoes, notes on each of the 16 films, plus a further reading list and web links