Mamoun Hassan appeared recently at the British Film Institute’s Seniors talk on the work of film, television and stage director, critic and actor Lindsay Anderson (1923 – 1994) at the National Film Theatre, Southbank, London March 14 2016. The panel event was curated by David Somerset, Adult Community Education Programmer. Filmed by Sherief Hassan and edited by David Somerset. The video opens with a clip from ‘Free Cinema 1956 – ?’An Essay on film by Lindsay Anderson (1985).
Nowadays Lindsay Anderson, if he is remembered at all, is equally loved and disliked by film makers, film critics and writers. Not so in the late 50s, 60s and 70s. He was almost wholly admired not only for his films and theatre work but also for his writings on cinema, which were incendiary. Of course, he had his detractors, who often belonged to the establishment: the successful, the comfortable, the conformist, the smug and the paralysed conservatives. He argued and carried the flame for an authentic British cinema. He influenced a whole generation of film makers and critics. He was cerebral, emotional, provocative, censorious, intimidating, generous, inspiring. Never before had a British film director spoken with such clarity about what we should make films about and how we might make them – about style. Critics tend to belabour the genre, as if audiences can’t tell the difference between a hand and a hacksaw, between a musical and a thriller. They avoid the responsibility that Lindsay stressed: that good cinema grows out of good criticism – not of Hollywood ‘product’ but of our own films. Passion and insight start at home.
Legendary film critic David Robinson, chairman of the Lindsay Anderson Memorial Foundation, chairs a panel consisting of Kevin Brownlow, director, writer, editor and Oscar-winning film historian, Charles Drazin, author and film critic, Andrew Eaton, film producer, and me. We speak of the man we knew and sometimes worked with and of his films.