- 15.10.2010 11:27 -
God Save the Doc
The two most significant periods of British documentary film to enter the world’s history of cinematography are the British Documentary Movement and the Free Cinema movement. During the twenty years that separated them, the technological means as well as the film language have changed. While the British Documentary Movement filmmakerswere making their films in a time when the film medium was still trying to find its unique position both in art and the society, the filmmakers of the Free Cinema movement, in short a precursor of theBritish New Wave, have already had the experience with the scope of cinema, its commercial as well as art possibilities, and in a way decided to return the film to the roots of its creative freedom – to “set the camera on the street and shoot” – equipped, however, by progressive technologies and a developed film language system.
In October, the Docalliancefilms portal will present several fundamental titles from the two significant chapters of the world’s cinematography. The portal visitors can thus enjoy famous films by Harry Watt, Humphrey Jennings, the legendary Robert Flaherty, author of the film Nanook of the North, and John Grierson – producer and, in a way, British Documentary movement ideologist whose texts actually gave birth to the very term of documentary film.
Financed by state institutions as well as big private corporations, the filmmakers of the British Documentary Movementconceived their work as public service. They were choosing among the wide range of themes resonating inthe British society, focusing primarily on the changes the society and its various strata were undergoing at that time. The film methods they employed varied greatly. Although their works are associated with the term of documentary film, today they would rather fit the docudrama genre (a documentary genre making use of stage-managed situations, reconstructions of real events). However, their works primarily shared the immense interest in the depicted subject accompanied by an attractive and intelligent film form. That is what secured them a constant attention of their spectatorship.
In the Docalliance selection, the Free Cinema movement is represented by the “swinging” Mama Don’t Allow by Tony Richardson and Czech-born “Winton’s child” Karel Reisz. Richardson as well as Reisz are significant representatives of the movement who later became famous for their fiction films, some of them further developing the Free Cinema principles. From the works by Karel Reisz, we further present We Are Lambeth Boys, a portrait of everyday life of youth from London’s working class Lambeth borough situated on the Southern bank of the Thames.
Both films belong among the significant short documentaries made at the very beginning of the movement. (Among others, let us mention O Dreamland by Lindsay Anderson or Together by Lorenza Mazzetti).