Britain • 17m
Directed by Claude Goretta & Alain Tanner • Documentary • 1957 • 16 minutes
The swirling neon frenzy of Piccadilly Circus has never been better captured than in this innovative short, which presents the London landmark as a bewildering collage of image and sound.
Swiss film enthusiasts and BFI employees Claude Goretta and Alain Tanner (later to become established art-house filmmakers back home) were inspired by their colleagues’ success with the Free Cinema programme to try their own attempt at low-budget documentary filmmaking. After shooting 6,000 feet of footage of 25 nights, they turned the limitation of an absence of synced sound to their advantage by crafting a sophisticated soundtrack. Utilising snatches ambient street noise, pop music and scraps of dialogue from the kinds of Hollywood films shown in West End cinemas, their collage of sound was used to both imaginative and ironic effect (such as the National Anthem played over a shot of a large Coca-Cola sign).
Up Next in Britain
Directed by Harry Watt & Basil Charles Wright • Documentary • 1936 • 23 minutes
A cornerstone of British documentary, Harry Watt and Basil Wright's NIGHT MAIL, with music by Benjamin Britten and verse by W.H. Auden, stands as a beacon for John Grierson's original purpose for documentary - to...
The Nine Muses
Directed by John Akomfrah • Documentary • 2010 • 94 minutes
Structured as an allegorical fable set between 1949 and 1970, THE NINE MUSES is comprised of nine overlapping musical chapters that mix archival material with original scenes. Together, they form a stylized, idiosyncratic retelling of t...
Directed by Lindsay Anderson • Documentary • 1953 • 11 minutes
Lindsay Anderson’s 12–minute tour of Margate’s Dreamland funfair is immediately notable for its deliberately bleak and unattractive photography and a spare and impressionistic soundtrack. Despite the absence of a commentary, the film...