THE SINGING STREET, by Nigel McIsaac, Raymond Townsend, James T. R. Ritchie (United Kingdom)
A group of teachers from Norton Park School filmed sixty of their pupils playing collection of street games in Edinburgh, accompanied by traditional children’s songs, in six Easter days of boisterous weather. The film documents an oral tradition which has all but vanished in the half century since it was made. Old rhymes rarely dying – something new always appearing. No-one asks ‘What does this mean?’. The world’s accepted, poetry’s kept alive. Favourite topic, love and death. Not meant for education or entertainment but belonging to the art of play.
WAKEFIELD EXPRESS, by Lindsay Anderson (United Kingdom)
The film was commissioned in 1952 by the Wakefield Express newspaper to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Originally intended to be a film showing how the paper was printed, in Anderson’s hands it became a much more personal study of the communal life of a group of towns in the West Riding area of Yorkshire. The film follows the local reporters as they travel around the area in search of newsworthy events: the local rugby tea, a school concert, a constituency political meeting, the launching of a ship and the unveiling of a war memorial among others.
O DREAMLAND, by Lindsay Anderson (United Kingdom)
A 12-minute tour of Margate’s Dreamland funfair in Kent (which still stands today) and its various attractions such as bingo, arcades, rides, café and mechanical puppets, the film features deliberately bleak and unattractive photography and a spare and impressionistic soundtrack. Despite the absence of a commentary, the film vividly conveys Anderson’s disdain for Dreamland’s tawdry ‘attractions’.
MOMMA DON’T ALLOW, by Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson (United Kingdom)
A celebration of the free spirit of youth —particularly London’s working class youth. The focus of the film is Wood Green Jazz Club where Chris Barber, the maestro of ‘trad’ or ‘stomp’ jazz, is playing with his band and Ottilie Patterson for an audience of young men and women. In the mid-fifties trad jazz was the risqué underground sound of rebellion.
TOGETHER, by Lorenza Mazzetti (United Kingdom)
Together’ is set in London’s East End, with its bombsites, narrow streets, riversides, warehouses, markets and pubs. It follows two deaf-mute dockers who are completely cut-off from the outside world and are constantly pursued by groups of jeering children.
EVERY DAY EXCEPT CHRISTMAS, by Lindsay Anderson (United Kingdom)
It is midnight in the winter of 1957. In Sussex, a truck loaded with vegetables leaves for London. While the driver steers the truck along quiet roads, the radio plays the national anthem God Save the Queen. At this hour, all roads lead to Covent Garden, the legendary market that only closes for Christmas and is otherwise open 364 days a year, 12 hours a day. Director Lindsay Anderson portrayed those 12 hours chronologically, using a 35mm camera to capture market vendors, their merchandise, transactions, coffee breaks, and customers. The camera observes while a voice-over offers commentary and the soundtrack provides snippets of market noise.
NICE TIME, by Alain Tanner, Claude Goretta (United Kingdom)
In big cities, the pursuit of fun and entertainment leads people to places where all the distractions that meet their needs are concentrated. In London the animated nightlife during the mid 1950s revolves around Piccadilly Circus. The film depicts life on Saturday nights in this environment and displays a visual jungle dominated by lighted advertising signs, billboards, movie posters and sex show lures that provide a playful counterpoint to the alienation of work life.
FOOD FOR A BLLUUUSSSSHHHHH, by Elizabeth Russell (United Kingdom)
A surreal journey through bohemian Chelsea in the mid-1950s. The film stars director Russell herself as the ‘vegetable love’ of Nicholas Ferguson. No sooner are they married than she is jilted and he resumes the life of a sexually predatory man about town. She continues to love him through the camera, fasinated with his every gesture, until the two are reunited – before he is drawn astray once more by a contract with a documentary film unit.