Lindsay Anderson, March to Aldermaston, 1959. Courtesy BFI

Lindsay Anderson, March to Aldermaston, 1959. Courtesy BFI

Robert Vas, Refuge England, 1959. Courtesy BFI

Karl Reisz, We Are the Lambeth Boys, 1959. Courtesy BFI

Karl Reisz, We Are the Lambeth Boys, 1959. Courtesy BFI

This programme of three short films focuses around the Free Cinema movement of the 1950s, originally a reference to the films having been made free from the demands of propaganda. March to Aldermaston (Lindsay Anderson) documents the CND march in 1958; We Are the Lambeth Boys (Karel Reisz) follows a group of teenagers at work and leisure; Refuge England (Robert Vas) records the experiences of a Hungarian refugee in London.

March to Aldermaston
March to Aldermaston was made anonymously under the guidance of a committee consisting of voluntary film and television technicians (including Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz). It documents the march from London to the nuclear weapons factory at Aldermaston, organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) over the four days of 1958’s Easter weekend. Initiated by the documentary producer Derrick Knight, the project was taken over at the editing stage by Lindsay Anderson, who had become involved through its links with the New Left and the University and Left Review magazine. The contrasting styles of the film are a clear reflection of the diversity of the technicians who contributed to it.

March to Aldermaston, dir: Lindsay Anderson, UK, 1959, 33min, BFI National Archive.

Refuge England
The film records the experiences of a Hungarian refugee arriving in London with no English, little money and with his only prospect of help an incomplete address written on a postcard. The director’s own experiences – Vas came to London as a refugee in 1956 – give the film an authenticity in its portrayal of the protagonist’s conflicting responses to his new environment: isolation and wonder, despair and hope. Beyond the fictional elements of the narrative, the contrast of images and sounds (the noises of London, Hungarian folk music) is in keeping with the established Free Cinema style.

Refuge England, dir: Robert Vas, UK, 1959, 27min, 35mm, BFI National Archive.

We Are The Lambeth Boys
The film was shot over six weeks in the summer of 1958 in and around the Ashford House, a youth club in the Oval area of South London. It follows a group of teenagers at work and in their leisure time, giving them space to express their frustrations and aspirations. This was made possible by the use, for the first time in a Free Cinema film, of synch-sound technology). In a famous article in Sight and Sound, sociologist Richard Hoggart talked of it as a ‘film essay’ rather than a documentary, because, as he claimed, ‘it sets out to show, not the whole truth, but some aspects of the truth, wholly.’

We Are The Lambeth Boys, dir: Karel Reisz, UK, 1959, 49min, BFI National Archive.

Presented as part of Resistance: British Documentary Film, more information about all the films in the series here.

Film Pass Four: Resistance: British Documentary Film
Tue 1 – Thu 24 March
£28 Full Price / £23 Concession
Includes entrance to all films in the series, including screenings at Northern Charter
Film Passes can only be booked via the Tyneside Cinema Box Office.

March to Aldermaston: Free Cinema

£7.50/£6, book here
Film Pass Four, £28/£23

Tue 22 March, 5.45pm (109min)

Tyneside Cinema

10 –12 Pilgrim Street
Box Office 0191 227 5500