All 2 entries tagged Social Realist Cinema
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December 30, 2007
It's a Free World. 2007. Dir Ken Loach
(See also the Kinoeye Reference Section: Globalisation)
IntroductionThis entry is currently going to be limited to being a webliography rather than a full critique and analysis. It is part of an ongoing analysis of contemporary British cinema and its responses to the processes of globalisation and diaspora which are a major feature of contemporary networked society. As such it is cross linked to this entry: Contemporary British Cinema: Representing the World Locally
It's a Free World (2007)
From the persepctive of the successes of British cinema and the importance of their film makers this is a prize winning film gaining an important award at the prestigious Venice Film Festival of Best Screenplay, Venice Film Festival 2007 as well as Best Film, Seville Film Festival 2007. Yet again the British cinematic system prefers to recognise profits rather then prophets so this did not appear in a multiplex near you despite the accolades.
The film has a title which is steeped in irony for what it is seeking to do is to represent at the level of the individuals who play their part how these parts link up to the wider scheme of things. The fact that Angie and her mate Rose don't have any form of secure work to go to as a matter of providing for everyday existence means they need to become entrepreneurial. when you have nothing behind you in terms of financial or cultural capital (a combination of education and contacts to work with) then people become attracted to the 'cowboy', 'shadow', 'underground' or 'black' economy. Angie and Rose establish a recruitment agency for migrant workers, who come to Britain because conditions have become so bad for them in their original countries of residence. combined with the entrepreneurs who are a bit further up the scale actually providing the underpaid and deperate conditions in which the migrants get recruited into form the other link in the equation. The migrants form an essential part of what Marx called the 'reserve army of labour' and what Loach is doing here is introducing audiences to this palpable aspect of globalisation.
Success abroad and straight to DVD in the UK
As is frequently the case this British film received accolades at a prestigious film festival however because of the distribution and exhibition in the UK being so weighted against more independent films this film was distributed differently.
(Sept. 9th 2007) Paul Laverty won the "Osella" for the Best Screenplay for "It's a Free World" (directed by Ken Loach) at this year's Venice Film Festival. Besides the drama was awarded with a EIUC Human Rights Film Award and got a special mention a the Signis Awards.
Review from Amanda Palmer of It's a Free World as part of a film review programme from Al Jazeera
Director: Ken Loach
Producer: Rebecca O'Brien
Screenplay by: Paul Laverty
Music by: George Fenton
Cinematography by: Nigel Willoughby
Editor: Jonathan Morris
Production Design: Fergus Clegg
Angie: Kierston Wareing
Rose: Juliet Ellis
Karol: Leslaw Zurek
Geoff (Angie's father) : Colin Caughlin
Jamie: Joe Siffleet
Webliography for It's a Free World
The Sweet Sixteen Website It's a Free World This website is a core resource for anybody interested in or studying the cinema of Ken Loach. Not only does it provide details of the film but in depth production note, external links and extracts of interviews form the actors are included.
Webliography for Migrant Labour conditions in Britain
May 08/2008: "Gangmaster Stripped of License". The BBC reports on real life exploitation of Polish workers. Loach is not exaggerating!!
BBC Video on migrant labour conditions:
June 16, 2007
This page functions as a portal into the important strand of British filmmaking described as social realist. Laid out chronologically this portal will be particularly useful for:
* Those unfamiliar with the history of the British cinema
* Students following undergraduate film studies course to provide an overview before tackiling more in depth work
* 'A' level media students following the current (2006 /07) OCR Media A2 Unit on Media Issues & Debates: Contemporary British Cinema. For the OCR unit it will historically contextualise the continuing use of social realism as a successful film form
* The WJEC Film Studies A level "British & Irish Cinema" Unit.
Social realism has played an important role in both British cinema and TV. The British documentary movement which developed under the leadership of John Grierson was enormously influential in stimulating what became a strand of fiction film described as social realism.
Humphrey Jennings who started out with this movement brought a sense of the surreality of popular culture in everyday life to his work. His wartime docu-dramas and documentary work are exemplary pieces of art working across genres to produce some of the best work ever made by a British director.
Jennings was an inspiration to Lindsay Anderson and those who gathered around him in the British 'Free Cinema'. Technical discoveries by cameraman Walter Lassally were to influence the work of the French New Wave Filmmakers and cinematographers.
The documentary work made by them led into the 'British New Wave' at the beginning of the 1960s.
This in turn led to social realist films and TV documentaries in the mid to late sixties with Ken Loach and Producer Tony Garnett being exemplary. Cathy Come Home was a TV drama which heldped the housing charity Shelter to set up. Poor Cow and Kes are classic Loach films from this period.
While the 1970s and 1980s saw less work of this style films such as Meantime by Mike Leigh were very influential. The actor Gary Oldman was outstanding in this and returned to this form as a director in Nil by Mouth made in the late 1990s.
There was a return to popularity for this kind of film in the 1990s particularly by Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. This has continued up until 2006 with Ken Loach winning the Palm d'or at the Cannes festival for The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) combining social realism with history.
Brtish social realism has also been strongly influential in other types of films which have combined genres into hybrids such as social-realist / comedy. The Full Monty (1997) and Brassed Off (1996) are good examples of this. Perhaps the first hybrid of this type was Billy Liar (1963) at the end of the British New Wave. This film provided a bridge into the 'Swinging Sixties' particularly in the next film by John Schlesinger Darling which starred Julie Christie as well.
The BFI "Screenonline article on comedy" cites several films which also appear elsewhere as social realistically inflected. Films dealing with changing British identity often combine social realist aspects of life with comedy including East is East (1999) and Bend it Like Beckham (2002).
Webliography laid out chronologically
This covers the British documentary movement and via Free Cinema moves into British Social Realism
BFI Screenonline Biography of Paul Rotha
Links previously on this page are now on the above page plus many more. The page is still under development and further links to analysies of his films are in the pipeline.
From Lindsay Anderson to the Free Cinema
The Impact and Influence of Social Realism in British Cinema a useful Screenonline article.
Tony Aldgate of the Open University discusses British Social Realism
Social Realists in British Cinema from 1990
These two directors have a reputation for working mainly within the social realist tradition although the approaches are still very different. Loach tends to be more macro whilst Leigh is more micro with a style closer to Kammerspiele or chamber plays.
Other British Directors who have used social realism
These directors have made films at times which have been strongly influenced by social realism:
Stephen Frears with Dirty Pretty Things, 2002
Lynne Ramsey Ratcatcher
Michael Winterbottom Welcome to Sarajevo (1998) is a social realist influenced film based upon a true story. His recent The Road to Guantanamo (2006) is a political response to the events and aftermath of 9/11.
Some Social Realist Films From 1990
Life is Sweet, 1990: Mike Leigh. It is marketed as a 'bittersweet comedy" which is quite a good description of many of the social realist / comedy hybrid films
Raining Stones, 1993: Dir Ken Loach
Nil by Mouth 1997: dir Gary Oldman
Authors of British Social Realist Films
Here is a link to Alan Sillitoe author of Saturday Night Sunday Morning commenting recently on the coming ban on smoking in public places