Journal | Salon | Portal (ISSN 1466-4615)

Vol. 8 No. 4, January 2003



Jonathan Wright


Rereading the British Social Realist Film:

Samantha Lay's _British Social Realism_



Samantha Lay

_British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit-Grit_

London: Wallflower Press, 2002

ISBN 1-903364-41-8

144 pp.


Samantha Lay's comprehensive exploration of British social realist film -- which also records its impact on British television -- spans several discursive spheres of film politics. She begins with formations of realist film narrative and aesthetics, before considering audience reception and film distribution. The main chapters of the book trace the social agendas of the Griersonian documentary movement of the 1930s, assess the politics of 1950s and 1960s 'Social Problem Film' and the 'Kitchen Sink Drama', and explore the social politics of 1970s realist narratives through to the impact of Thatcherism on British filmmaking. Finally, Lay discusses 1990s British social realist film ('Brit-Grit') to reflect on the trends and politics in contemporary social realism and the future for these types of texts and for British cinema as a national institution.


As a Wallflower Press 'Short Cuts Series' addition, _British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit-Grit_ is a comprehensive, thoughtful, and thorough investigation into the details of the film theoretical and cultural discourses involved in social realist cinema. Lay's book reflects the critical areas and relevant texts necessary for a solid understanding of the politics of British social realism, and, in this respect, it is an important pedagogic resource. _British Social Realism_ is a well-written, comprehensively researched, indispensable guide for the higher education student studying film, media, and cultural studies. As an example of good writing, intelligent illustration, and clear discussion of key ideas, this book is something of a rarity. Though these qualities are very important and should not be under-stated, this is all I really want to say about Samantha Lay's book in that particular regard, because I want to concentrate my discussion on the text's most provocative aspects: its contribution to debates about the identity of British cinema and the various roles social realist films play.


_British Social Realism_ addresses debates concerning the representational protocols of British social realist cinema, the kinds of social agendas to which it contributes, and the social politics of the filmmakers themselves. The author also comments on the ways in which the politics of this film corpus -- as part of the institution of British cinema -- stands as a representation of national identity and national cultural life to an international audience. Lay raises some serious issues about the discursive nature of social realist cinema in the constitution of nationhood and its role within the framework of British social democracy. I want to use my discussion to further explore these areas and to add some ideas drawn from my own reading. The first set of issues relates to the problems involved in mapping the definitive protocols of realist film and the kind of society (or more specifically, the forms of social message) it seeks to represent.


The term 'Realism' has often been confused with 'naturalism', a dramatic idiom used to describe the attempts by drama to represent the appearance of 'real' situations. The intention of realism is to reproduce the 'real' in the guise of 'reality'. [1] This is done through the construction of cinematic narrative composed by 'interlocking shots'; [2] the relationship between those shots creates meaning. Through the complex 'suture' system where disparate and contradictory elements of the text are sewn together to form a coherent textual fabric, the mechanisms of realist film become transparent. [3] This process conceals the labour of production: lighting, set design, sound effects, post-production shot selection, editing process, and all the technologies involved in film production which are anything but seamless and unconstructed. Therefore, the prerogative of cinematic 'realism' is contentious precisely because, as British filmmaker Jacque Henriques argues, many realist films are not actually 'true' to reality. [4] Realist representational strategies, dependent on the efficiency of their disguise, are grounded in cultural and social value systems, which define the politics of the film's images. [5] Through the presentation of apparently unquestioned images, realist filmmaking is designed to naturalize and normalize the customs and practices of the cultural hegemony under which it labours. The study of realist cinema is 'about how consciousness and systems of value are created and either bind society together or illuminate its fissures'. [6]


Samantha Lay's investigation considers realist film representation in a British context. These texts link individuals within their environments to articulate specific forms of social commentary that reflect what Raymond Williams calls the 'structure of feeling' of communities and the landscapes they inhabit. [7] As Williams later suggested, the prerogative of 'realism' is grounded in location and historical moments, which tends to reflect the interests of a broad set of social categories, representing the historically under-represented. [8] Stylistically, the often 'drab' or 'gritty' texture emphasises the mundane and problematic images of daily life -- culture is most certainly an 'ordinary' 'way of life' in the realist film-scape. These characteristics are obliquely grounded in the social politics of Griersonian documentarism where the 'real' rather than the 'constructed' provides a more accurate reflection of social life. [9] These features accentuate the observational qualities of realist film, and the gulf created between 'text and spectator' (22) -- akin to Jean-Pierre Oudart's 'fourth wall' [10] -- which provides critical commentary (and the text with a mode of reflexivity).


Early in the introductory chapter, Lay marks out the discursive boundary between 'realistic texts' and realist cinema through a differential comparison. Drawing on Branston and Stafford, [11] Lay argues that to qualify as a realist film (rather than 'realistic'), a text must demonstrate at least one or two of the following features:


'First, the film-maker must have intended to capture the experience of the actual event depicted. Second, the film-maker has a specific argument or message to deliver about the social world and employs realist conventions to express this message or argument.' (7)


This criterion separates films that merely create 'a reality effect', from 'realist films' that reflect their own self-construction; or as Susan Hayward suggests, texts that 'recognise from the start that realist discourses not only suppress certain truths, they also produce others'. [12] Lay adopts these aesthetic and critical responses to categorise Spielberg's _Jaws_ (1975) as a movie that could be 'realist', but is actually a 'realistic' film because the 'like real' film conventions are not used to support a particular political message, they are in place to heighten the terrifying affect of the killer shark. Her reading and the way in which it enables categorisation, demonstrates the inextricable relationship between these definitive concerns about classification and the search for an appropriate, reflexive critical lens through which they are understood. Both the above criteria for realist film are grounded in the politics of the reader's critical strategies. The extent to which it is a filmmaker's intention to capture the experience of an event and whether they seem to wield a particular discursive axe in the process, seems to be as equally determined by the frameworks brought to the text, as it is by what the director meant to say in the first place. The Barthian fracture between authorial intention and reader response asserts the authority of film criticism as both theory and practice and its importance in the definition of realist film language. These issues are somewhat overshadowed in Chapter 2 (which addresses the activities of critics and audiences) by an analysis that considers how British realist film is different from Hollywood film in terms of generic characteristics, approaches to marketing, and the profile of British audience tastes and sensibilities. The link between patterns of social realist film consumption and the kinds of messages they disseminate, is forged by an audience's access to these films and the context in which they are distributed and viewed, on both the large and small screen.


One could argue that in some ways, this struggle over meaning and issues of subjective interpretation is really rather obvious. The same set of interpretive questions could also be applied to any form of textual analysis that results in any form of 'reading'. The reason I raise this question of readership, and feel it is of such importance, is because the critical prism through which realist film is understood shapes the debates about the political intent and the kinds of comments a 'socially purposive British cinema' (26) makes on a society. Therefore, where Lay lists some of the defining features of British social realism as: 'a high degree of verisimilitude, placing emphasis on ensemble casts in social situations which suggest a direct link between person and place', films that do not 'work in a linear or cause-and-effect way' (20-21), and texts that do not leave a 'more or less stable resolution' -- I would put this *process* of categorisation to use in a slightly different way. I would argue that these aesthetics and formalisms are not (in themselves) criteria for British social realist texts. Some of these characteristics can be found in other forms of cinema, such as (to use an extreme example of contrast) a film like _Looking For Langston_, that can be described as Black British avant-gardist neo-documentarism. [13] Lay's cine-features are important, however, as signifiers; they articulate the cultural discourses that provide the interpretive framework which defines British social realist cinema. The social agendas of social realist film make the film form what it is, rather than purely the way it looks; even though one could argue that forms of address that disrupt the suturing affect and challenge the spectator are often congruent with 'alternative' cinemas. [14]


This position (a variation on Lay's approach) opens up a host of possibilities as to how these texts contribute to wider debates about the nature of British cinema and how they project a re-imagined nation. The ways in which these films function in a national cultural economy reveal the underlying nature of social realist film and its contribution to the representation of British national culture. One can illustrate this by considering the evolution of social realist texts, as Lay outlined. Griersonian, social realist documentarism of the 1930s reflected a nation where, in the post world-war and pre-world war era, 'issues of class and deprivation were all but forgotten . . . everyone, regardless of class and social status had the same problem and the same enemy' (53). These themes continued with the 'social problem' and 'kitchen sink' narratives of social realism in 1950s and 1960s. Such films highlighted class division, but 'the 'problems' overwhelm the texts and become so tightly focused upon them and their resolution that class fades into the background' (67). However, the intervention of leftist film politics in the 1970s and 1980s challenged the sexual conservatism, post-Empire racism, and class obfuscation of previous decades. This backlash against right-wing 'repressive, backward-looking . . . and laissez-faire economic' (81) policies of that period produced an era of filmmaking that was not merely critical of the Conservatives, but launched 'full-blown cinematic or televisual attacks' (83) against Thatcher's ideological project. Indeed, Stephen Frears once claimed that his films sought to 'bring down the government' (83). The generic and stylistic hybridity of 1980s social realism (which sought to reflect a society racked by social and economic division) continued into British cinema of the 1990s. However, the films of this decade focused on questions concerning the personal rather than the public. Masculinity was in crisis, working-class identity was de-politicised and consumer based, and the working-class movement had become de-centred. This was in part a consequence of 'the prevalence of a therapeutic discourse in social realist texts' (104). Lay's exploration of the various faces of social realist film, and the different ideological projects it has served, reveals the inherent fluidity of the form as a reflection of the shifting socio-economic sands of twentieth-century British society.


From these broad definitions of British social realist film, I want to develop this line of inquiry to look at a second conjoined question. What is the political and cultural role of social realist filmmaking in the construction and definition of British national cinema? Lay suggests that the notion of British film has become increasingly problematic:


'How meaningful is it to use this term when every constituent part of the term is subject to flux and change? Has 'British' social realism, for example, ever been 'British'? Or has it rather been English? What are the implications for any concept of British social realism post-devolution?' (120)


The social realist modes of address outlined in the previous section, plus the general shift in commentary from public to private spaces, indicates the heterogeneity of filmmaking practices clustered together under the banner: British cinema. This inherently problematises the ways in which producers, critics, and audiences use nationally centred narratives to define the cultural politics of film. This begs some questions. Are national discourses still constructive criteria, when describing such a diverse and inherently problematic corpus of film production? Is the notion of 'British cinema' a viable film category? This question is particularly pertinent when one considers that _British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit-Grit_ emerged in the aftermath of a set of debates about both the aesthetic and political nature of British filmmaking in the later half of the 20th century, and also its future in the 21st. The context to this debate can be traced through the following narratives.


Andrew Higson constitutes 'British National Cinema' through four characteristics. The first is the economic, which shapes the parameters of national cinema through production, distribution, exhibition, and ownership. The second attribute is the consumption and demography of British film audiences, and the third and fourth relate more specifically to the projection of British national identity. National film is designed, he argues, to construct and symbolizes the national character; British cinema acts as a conduit for national cultural practices and reflects themes, motifs, and icons of national life. As a social institution cinema circulates histories and experiences of nationhood with a 'profound sense of tradition'. [15] The discursive premises of British cinema (as reflected largely in the third and fourth attributes) can be defined by two propositions. The first is an affirmation of national identity that draws on traditions and practices local to a national boundaried space, which syntheses a range of lived conditions into singular images. Secondly, British film is delineated by its difference to other national cinema in the pan-national repertoire. As an embodiment of the cultural make-up of nation, British film is placed in direct comparison with others on the world stage. 'Cinema thus does its part in establishing and maintaining the limits of what is imagined as a shared national culture -- it helps to reaffirm the boundaries of the national community'. [16] Therefore, when we talk of the social politics or cultural discourses of social realist film in Britain, and its place and contribution to 'film practice, critical debate and its importance in British film culture' (37), or when we discuss the commentary made by British filmmakers on 'the nation', we evoke the authority of a contentious national institution that is problematic, principally because it stands as a national institution.


As British film entered the 1990s, writers John Hill and Andrew Higson began an important dialogue over its future and the sustainability if its identity. Both questioned the representative value of nostalgic, heritage orientated caricatures of English national life -- frozen emblems of Britishness, untouched by the passage of time, which appear to typify examples of national cinema. Hill's research critiques the homogeneity of such images, yet also recognises the currency of these icons in the sale of British cinema to both domestic and international markets. However, he also argued that although 'little Englandist' images provide distinct, sustained, and coherent narratives of nationhood, they only appeal to (and reflect) particular factions of British society, while completely ignoring the existence of others. Therefore, these notions of British cinema mask the diversity of films produced under its auspices, and so, amidst this discursive miscellany, more acceptable representations of nation must be found. As Hill argues:


'It is quite possible to conceive of a national cinema, in the sense of one which works with or addresses nationally specific materials, which is none the less critical of inherited notions of national identity, which does not assume the existence of a unique, unchanging 'national culture', and which is capable of dealing with social divisions and differences.' [17]


Lay's assessment of social realist film in the construction of British national cinema reflects the ways in which this film form provides social commentary and a critique of 'nation'. She questions the ideology propagated in the name of Britishness, which centres the values and experiences of certain sections of society that do not represent the whole. Alongside John Hill and others, Lay advocates a critical revaluation of British cinema that departs from monolithic representations of national identity.


However, Andrew Higson proposes a distinctly different paradigm that recognises the fragmentation of English/British cultural life that disavows nationally defined categories of film production. Considering the multi-racialism and social diversity evidenced in much British film, Higson asks: 'Should such films still be seen as products of a national cinema? It might in fact be more useful to think of them as embodying a new postnational cinema that resists the tendency to nationalise questions of community, culture and identity'. [18] I would say that much social realist film of the last two decades has indeed moved British cinema away from reaffirming narratives of national cohesion. For example, films like _Secrets and Lies_ and _The Full Monty_ discuss issues of class divisions and urban poverty, alongside bourgeois aspirationalism. _The People's Account_, _Handsworth Songs_, _I'm British But . . ._, _Bhaji on the Beach_, _Babymother_, _The Girl With Brains in Her Feet_, _East is East_, _Bend It Like Beckham_, and _Anita and Me_ depict a fractured British society coming to terms with the politics of racial diversity. These films seem to argue that, through a colonial legacy of hybridity, national identity must undergo constant revision and reformation. Some British films reflect racial heterogeneity through political dissonance and social nonconformity. Two very important films of the 1980s, _My Beautiful Launderette_ and _Sammy and Rosie Get Laid_, reflect social diversity through the documentation of urban decay and impoverishment.


Despite the apparent affluence of the 1980s, these film images characterize the social conditions of many working-class Britons. Leonard Quart argues that this institutes a sense of national insider/outsiderness, an issue Sampat Niti Patel suggests emerges through the performative construction of identity shaped by social and cultural context. [19] For Thomas Elsaesser, the 1980s not only 'explicitly asked what it meant to be British', but also 'questioned what it meant to be a British filmmaker'. [20] There was neither a cultural hegemony, nor an inherently organic (or 'naturalized') manifestation of British national identity to be found in any of these film narratives. According to Karen Alexander, they 'mapped out a possibility of Britishness that could contain and engage with diversities of race, gender, sexuality and class in a meaningful and often poetic way'. [21] Many films produced in the 1980s consider narratives of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and class mobility to project a much more fluid, hybrid, and plural sense of Britishness than was seen in British cinema of previous decades. As hill notes: 'Such films are responding to the more complex sense of national identity which has been characteristic of modern Britain'. [22] Hill, however, does not support Higson's idea of a post-national film paradigm. He maintains that national cinema does not have to reflect social unity; it can reflect the divisions within Britain. There is of course a link between national cinema and the way national film policy funds national cinema, but the heterogeneity of nationhood is important to the ways in which national identity is (re-) imagined in a cine-scape.


Nevertheless, British-produced films (including those with state funding or grants) that do not reflect the cohesive myths of nationhood force us to reconsider what is meant by 'national cinema'. This is especially the case when, as Higson notes, these British films 'work with or address nationally specific materials' within 'an identifiable and specifically British context'. [23] The phrase 'nationally specific' is ambiguous, as the heterogeneous composition of 'nation' makes it difficult to stipulate exactly what qualifies as 'nationally specific' or 'identifiably British'. In Lay's work, I would pick out two key contentious issues facing social realist film that reflect these questions of British cinema. One is the shift in emphasis from public spaces to the personal, which 'undermines the 'social' message and the meaning as we focus on the individual or family and their struggles without making connections to the wider political, economic and social factors' (121). The other point is that, 'in a multicultural society, 'British' can mean many different things to different groups. But filmmakers are not exploring this in social realist texts' (121). However, there is an area of social realist British cinema that addresses exactly this problem and, I think, it requires further consideration than was afforded in this book.


The intervention of Black British realist film and documentarism has made a significant (yet many would argue, universally undervalued) contribution to the landscape of British cinema. In particular, Black film asks: What does it mean to be British in a society of social, cultural, and racial diversity and conflict? Lay briefly mentions John Akomfrah's seminal documentary _Handsworth Songs_ in Chapter 5 to argue that a Black presence in British cinema reflects a sense of racial diversity. However, she says: 'British social realist texts of the 1980s did little to extend the range of representation in the direction of Britain's ethnic minorities' (86). I find this to be a slightly problematic proposition, because in the wake of the 1981 'race riots' came a renewed interest in Black cultural production. [24] The Greater London Council was particularly responsible for this growth, along with Channel 4's Independent Film and Video. The 1981 Workshop Declaration established the 'Association of Cinematograph Television and Allied Technicians Union' (ACTT), which, as Karen Ross notes, 'sought to develop and sustain an independent film sector which might begin to evolve on the basis of a more permanent funding structure'. [25] The Committee of Union members states that 'the Declaration marks a huge stride forward in creating the continuity which is vital to build a powerful network of production groups . . . to make a real impact on our industry media and society'. [26] Under these auspices a number of Black workshops were franchised: Sankofa Film and Video, the Black Audio Film Collective, and the Ceddo Film/Video Workshop. An important aspect of the workshop movement was the inclusion of educational issues in their remits which generated debate about the nature and direction of Black British film. As Alexander argues, these filmmakers 'challenged what British film-making is all about; they were made by young Black Britons who despite being British were rooted in another culture'. [27] British cinema of the 1980s saw a diasporic film culture that challenged traditional notions of identity and disrupted hegemonic definitions of 'race' and nation. It emphasised representation as a conduit to new ways of thinking about 'race' and Britishness.


In fact, Black independent film in Britain first emerged during the 1960s, but this cultural practice was not recognised by the national film institutions and cultural policy until the mid-1970s. [28] For example, _Reggae_, an important short Black film of that decade, voiced Black experiences of British society. _Pressure_, the first feature length movie made by a Black director in Britain, set out to describe racial experiences with a Black voice that reflected the difficulties suffered by Black communities amidst turbulent race relations and economic decline. _Burning an Illusion_ was the second British feature length film made by a Black director and the first to emerge during the 1980s. It emphasised internal dialogues and divisions within Black communities and the contradictions between the British society's ideals of pluralism and Black experiences of alienation.


Since the 1980s the 'documentary' has also played a significant role in the cultural repertoire of Black filmmaking in Britain. It was used to discuss the most important events or turning points within the history of Black socio-cultural struggles of the twentieth century. This tradition -- which draws on Griersonian notions of collectivism -- is of particular significance, not only because it has historically provided dominant white culture with a mode of representing Blacks in Britain, but also for Black filmmakers seeking to counter these dominant images with new, 'progressive socio-cultural cinema reproductions of their own', as Jim Pines puts it. [29] Black documentarists presented a critical perspective that foregrounded key anti-colonial and racial struggles across the world. Powerful examples include: _Handsworth Songs_, _Time and Judgement_, and _The People's Account_. Many Black documentarist's critique on society used the experiences of 'Black' communities to discuss how these stories reflect the need for social change. In this way much Black British social realist film focuses on communities, and explores historical icons and aspects of the 'personal', but shapes those experiences in the context of wider social and political discourses. This process questioned the nature of British national identity. Notions of biography in these films refer to the collective stories of a community, rather than individual experiences. Autobiography is multi-generationality and describes the cultural practices of a 'people' and their shared existence, shaped by the nature of their resources and situated in a specific geography. [30] These narratives can also be found in various strands of contemporary Black and Asian filmmaking in Britain, such as -_Bend It Like Beckham-_, East is East_, and _Anita and Me_. These texts represent the trials of racialised community life (and often those of a central individual as well) to articulate the concerns and politics of multiculturalism in Britain.


Oppositional filmmaking in Britain is a hugely important area in the study of British social realist cinema. The kinds of social commentary it provides reframe the current shift from public to private in social realist film. Personal narratives are inscribed in and reflect the social trends and cultural discourses of a British society shaped through internal difference. As an intelligent and coherent over-view of the field, Lay's _British Social Realism_ is an important starting point from which the new possibilities for British filmmaking in the 21st century can be further explored.


London Metropolitan University, England





1. See Raymond Williams, 'A Lecture on 'Realism'', _Screen_, vol. 18 no. 1, Spring 1977.


2. Kaja Silverman, 'Suture: The Cinematic Model' (1983), in Paul Du Gay, Jessica Evans, and Peter Redman, eds, _Identity: A Reader_ (London: The Open University/Sage Publications, 2000), p. 77


3. See, for example, Jean-Pierre Oudart, 'Cinema and Suture', and Stephen Heath, 'Notes on Suture', both in _Screen_, vol. 18 no. 4, Winter 1977/78.


4. See Jacque Henriques, 'Realism and the New Language' (1986), in Judith Williamson, ed., _Black Film/British Cinema_ (London: ICA Documents, 1988).


5. For further details see: David Bordwell and Kristen Thompson, _Film Art: An Introduction_, 4th Edn (New York/London: McGraw-Hill, 1993); David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristen Thompson, _The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960_ (London: Routledge, 1985); and Graeme Turner, _Film as Social Practice_, 3rd edn (London: Routledge, 1999).


6. Toby Miller, 'Introduction', in Toby Miller and Robert Stam, eds, _A Companion to Film Theory_ (London: Blackwell, 1999), p. 4.


7. See Raymond Williams, _The Long Revolution_ (London: Chatto and Windus 1961).


8. See Williams, 'A Lecture on 'Realism''.


9. See Alan Lovell and Jim Hillier, _Studies in Documentary_ (London: British Film Institute, 1972).


10. The relationship between text and reader Oudart describes as 'the fourth wall'. This dimension has a disjunctive affect that reminds the viewer that the film is a constructed text and that meaning is created through the spectator's experiences. However, he then suggests that the spectator projects an absent character in the text in order to deal with the relationship between him/herself and the film text. The film itself then fills in this 'insertion' as a character takes the place of this missing presence (the absent one). Accordingly, the construction of the film narrative through shot/reverse shot devices and various editing techniques become transparent and seamless. They conceal the existence of the 'forth wall' as a mediation between text and viewer in the construction of meaning. See Oudart, ''Suture' (Part 1)', _Cahiers Du Cinema_, April 1969; and ''Suture' (Part 2)', _Cahiers Du Cinema_, May 1969.


11. G. Branston and R. Stafford, _The Media Studies Students Book_ (London: Routledge, 1996).


12. Susan Hayward, _Key Concepts in Cinema Studies_ (London: Routledge, 2001), pp. 298-9.


13. _Looking For Langston_ is a simultaneously documentarist (and exhibits aspects of the biographical) and fictional representation of the (allegedly) gay poet of the Harlem Renaissance (New York, 1920-1925), Langston Hughes. The opening credits describe the film as a 'meditation'. The text's form and style deviate from mainstream narrative conventions which govern spatial continuity (the film jumps from space to space without explanation), and narrative linearity (the film opens with Hughes's death and closes with him alive). The film also fails to follows narrative causality. As an example of Black British filmmaking these characteristics signify a specific set of cultural discourses which define this mode of address, and thus classify the film in terms of its political agendas. The point I am making, again, is that the cultural discourses which underpin these conventions define the classification of this film form.


14. 'Alternative' cinema describes films that have different aesthetic and generic conventions to those of mainstream (Hollywood) film, yet the term does not stipulate the nature or cultural politics invested in that mode of address. It is important to note at this point that the use of the term 'alternative' cinema is different to the notion of 'oppositional cinema', discussed later in this review. I use 'oppositional cinema' to refer to filmmaking practices that reflect cultural and/or social marginalization and oppression, such as pan-national forms of diasporic cinema.


15. Andrew Higson, _Waving The Flag: Constructing A National Cinema in Britain_, 2nd edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), p. 7.


16. Ibid., p. 8.


17. Hill, 'The Issue of National Cinema and British Film Production', in Duncan Petrie, ed., _New Questions of British Cinema_ (London: British Film Institute, 1992), p. 16.


18. Higson, 'The Instability of the National', in Justine Ashby and Andrew Higson, eds, _British Cinema, Past and Present_ (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 38.


19. See Leonard Quart, 'The Politics of Irony: The Frears-Kureishi Films', in Wheeler Winston Dixon, ed., _Re-Viewing British Cinema_ (New York: State University of New York Press, 1994); and Sampat Niti Patel, _Postcolonial Masquerades: Culture and Politics in Literature, Film, Video, and Photography_ (New York: Garland Publishing, 2001).


20. Thomas Elsaesser, 'Images for Sale: The 'New' British Cinema', in Lester Friedman, ed., _British Cinema and Thatcherism: Fires Were Started_ (London: University College London Press, 1993), p. 54.


21. Karen Alexander, 'Black British Cinema in the 90s: Going, Going Gone', in Robert Murphy, ed., _British Cinema of the 90s_ (London: British Film Institute, 2000), p. 110.


22. John Hill, 'British Cinema as National Cinema: Production, Audience and Representation', in Robert Murphy, ed., _The British Cinema Book_ (London: British Film Institute 1997), p. 211.


23. Higson, 'The Instability of the National', p. 40.


24. See Coco Fusco, 'Young British and Black: The Sankofa Film and Video Collective', _Black Film Review_, 1986-1987; and John Hill, _British Cinema in the 1980s_ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).


25. Karen Ross, _Black Images in Popular Film and Television_ (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996), p. 35.


26. _ACTT Workshop Declaration_ (London: ACCTT, 1984), p. 2.


27. Alexander, 'Black British Cinema in the 90s', p. 110.


28. See Jim Pines, 'The Cultural Context of Black British Cinema', in Claire Watkins, ed., _Black Frames: Critical Perspectives on Black Independent Cinema_ (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: MIT Press 1988).


29. Ibid., p. 29.


30. For further discussion see: Teshome H. Gabriel, 'Third Cinema as Guardian of Popular Memory: Towards a Third Aesthetics', in Jim Pines, ed., _Questions of Third Cinema_ (London: British Film Institute, 1989).






_Anita and Me_ (2002) Metin Huseyin

UK: Portman Film/Film Council/BBC Films/EMMI/Take 3 Partnership/Chest Wigs and Flares Productions


_Babymother_ (1998) Henriques, Julien

UK: Channel Four Films/The Arts Council England/Formation Films


_Bend It Like Beckham_ (2002) Chadha, Gurinder

Germany/UK: Kintop Pictures/The Film Council/Filmfˆrdenberg Hamburg/BSkyB/ British Screen/The Works/Future Film Financing/Bend It Films/Roc Media/Road Movies Production


_Bhaji on the Beach_ (1991) Chadha, Gurinder

UK: Channel Four Films/Umbi Films


_East is East_ (2000) O'Donnell, Damien

UK: Film Four/Assassin Films


_Full Monty, The_ (1997) Cattaneo, Peter

UK/US: TCF/Redwave


_Girl With Brains in Her Feet, The_ (1997) Bangura, Robert

UK: Alliance/Lexington


_Handsworth Songs_ (1987) Akomfrah, John

UK: Black Audio Film Collective


_I'm British But . . ._ (1988) CHADHA, Gurinder

UK: British Film Institute


_Jaws_ (1975) Spielberg, Steven

US: Universal Pictures


_Looking For Langston_ (1989) Julien, Isaac

UK: Sankofa Film and Video Collective


_My Beautiful Laundrette_ (1985) Frears, Stephen

UK: Working Title/Channel Four Films


_People's Account, The_ (1981) Bryan, Milton

UK: Ceddo Film and Video/British Film Institute Board


_Pressure_ (1975) Ove, Horace

UK: British Film Institute


_Reggae_ (1970) Ove, Horace

UK: Bamboo Records


_Sammy and Rosie Get Laid_ (1987) Frears, Stephen

UK: Working Title/Channel Four Films


_Secrets and Lies_ (1996) Leigh, Mike

UK: Film Four/CiBy 2000/Thin Man/Channel 4


_Time and Judgement: A Diary of A 400 Year Exile_ (1988) Shabazz, Menelik

UK: Ceddo Film and Video



Copyright © Film-Philosophy 2004.



Jonathan Wright, 'Rereading the British Social Realist Film: Samantha Lay's _British Social Realism_', _Film-Philosophy_, vol. 8 no. 4, January 2004 <>.



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