One of those totally unexpected programmes that occasionally pop up on Radio 4 and continue to make radio far more exciting and relevant than television, was Simon Hoggart's 30-minute introduction to Free Cinema last Tuesday. Free Cinema, was a series of six programmes of short documentary films produced by Lindsay Anderson, Lorenza Mazzetti, Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, and others, which were shown at the National Film Theatre between 1956 and 1959.
"Modest films that caused a sensation" (Simon Hoggart), Free Cinema was "rough edged" and intended to "release British Cinema from its middle-class respectability". Subjects included a group of teenagers visiting a jazz club (Momma Don't Allow) Together, the story of two deaf-mutes in East London, and O Dreamland about an amusement park.
The informal style of the films, their energy and the focus on the real lives of working-class people paved the way for the later emergence of the British New Wave cinema.
Listen again for the next few days:
For more information about the Free Cinema movement try this page at the British film Institute, which includes biographies of the film-makers, and a complete transcript of a panel discussion held at the BFI in 2001 in which many of the film-makers took part: