When New Wave Cinema came to Bristol: festival rewinds to the 1960s

February 23 2018

Do you remember when you shrank your jeans to fit by sitting in the bath, dreamed of being in a pop group, rode motorbikes, joined a youth club, caught Bristol’s green buses or danced to a local band called The Eagles playing ‘Bristol Express’?

Do you remember when you shrank your jeans to fit by sitting in the bath, dreamed of being in a pop group, rode motorbikes, joined a youth club, caught Bristol’s green buses or danced to a local band called The Eagles playing ‘Bristol Express’? 

Some People, filmed entirely in Bristol and released in 1962, shows all these things and more. It’s a little-known case of how the ‘New Wave’ of British cinema, normally associated with black-and-white, gritty social realist films in northern settings, came westwards, and was defiantly filmed in Eastmancolor. Some People was about the work of the then new Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in giving bored, restless teenagers constructive activities. But it defied expectations by being full of energy, with great music, fast action, and effortlessly good playing. 

The film’s director, Clive Donner, came from a background in film editing and in the early 1960s he worked for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and made commercials for television. This influence shows in Some People, particularly its punchy opening montage accompanied by a blousy, jazz theme. 

As well as the fresh outlook of the director, the film’s qualities can be attributed to the excellent performances of its young actors, particularly early roles for Ray Brooks (Johnnie), David Hemmings (Bert), David Andrews (Bill), Angela Douglas (Terry) and Anneke Wills (Anne). Kenneth More plays Mr Smith, an enlightened volunteer choirmaster who allows them to practise as a would-be pop group in the church hall after they’ve been banned from riding their motorbikes. 

The film features many well-known Bristol locations including Christmas Steps, the Catholic Cathedral in Clifton, the Suspension Bridge and many others. We’re delighted that Anneke Wills will join us to celebrate Some People with a number of experts on fashion, music and the film’s locations. We’ll also hear from film a restorer who about what’s involved in preserving films like Some People that are in danger of deteriorating. 

As Bristol celebrates its recent UNESCO City of Film success, this event at Bristol Watershed on Saturday 24 March, 1pm - 5pm, explores the ‘swinging’ city on screen in a day packed with sixties fun, fashion, music and colour.    

Tickets cost £4.50 which includes the film screening, panel discussion and refreshments. For further details and to register visit the Watershed website https://tinyurl.com/y7pluhjx 

The screening and workshop are supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the University of Bristol in partnership with the Watershed.