Tue 1 – Thu 24 March 2016

Each week of the Festival we present a selection of films revealing legacies of the radical British tradition of political documentary. From early films by Paul Rotha, Humphrey Jennings and Lindsay Anderson, through to experimental artist feature films by Peter Gidal, Luke Fowler and Ken McMullen, and campaigning films by Cinema Action and Berwick Street Collective. Special events feature Q&As with curators, filmmakers and activists including David John Douglass, Mark Webber, Ken McMullen and Stuart Brisley.

The films are concerned with political reality by narrating key historical events, exploring tensions between past and present using diverse strategies such as re-enactment, performance, editing of archive footage, self-reflexive interviews and materialist anti-narrative.

Jenning’s The Silent Village re-enacts Nazi destruction in a Welsh mining village; Brownlow’s Winstanley recreates seventeenth-century England and the Diggers; and McMullen’s Resistance takes the French Resistance as its historical focus. Other key moments in British political history feature, such as Marxist historian E.P. Thompson and the Workers’ Education Association, the 1973–4 miners’ strike and the CND march to Aldermaston in 1958.

1930s - 40s British Documentary Movement

Tue 1 March, 5.45pm (120min)

Tyneside Cinema

As Orwell was documenting poverty in the industrial North in 1936, the British Documentary Movement of the 1930s was also... more

Finest Hour: Films by Humphrey Jennings

Wed 2 March, 5.45pm (80min)

Tyneside Cinema

Humphrey Jennings is widely considered Britain’s greatest documentary director. In 1937 he founded Mass Observation,... more

Berwick Street Collective: Nightcleaners

Tue 8 March, 5.45pm (90min)

Tyneside Cinema

Nightcleaners is a documentary by the Berwick Street Collective (Marc Karlin, Mary Kelly, James Scott, Humphrey Trevelyan),... more 

Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo: Winstanley

Wed 9 March, 5.45pm (96min)

Tyneside Cinema

Kevin Brownlow and co-director Andrew Mollo recreated a small patch of seventeenth-century England to... more

Cinema Action: The Miners' Film

Thu 10 March, 5.45pm (45min + discussion)

Tyneside Cinema

The Miners’ Film documents the 1973–4 miners’ strike that helped bring down Edward Heath’s government,... more

Cinema Action: So That You Can Live

Tue 15 March, 8pm (83min)

Tyneside Cinema

So That You Can Live was Cinema Action’s most personal and reflective film. Gone are the political sloganeering and... more

Peter Gidal: Close Up

Wed 16 March, 7pm (70min + Intro) 

Northern Charter

This rare screening of Peter Gidal’s ‘feature length’ film Close Up anticipates the publication of Flare Out:... more

Luke Fowler: The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott

Thu 17 March, 5.45pm (61min)

Tyneside Cinema

Luke Fowler’s film focuses on Marxist historian... more

March to Aldermaston: Free Cinema

Tue 22 March, 5.45pm (109min)

Tyneside Cinema

This programme of three short films focuses around the Free Cinema movement of the 1950s, originally a reference... more

Ken McMullen and Stuart Brisley: Resistance

Thu 24 March, 7pm (90min + Q&A)

Northern Charter

Resistance assembles fragments of raw material (archive film, performances,... more