1968 was a time of tremendous social and political upheaval. From the Prague spring to the Paris riots, from the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam war to the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in America, the year saw momentous global events whose repercussions still resonate to this day.
In the UK student protests flared up on campuses across the country with rising tensions in the wake of Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech whilst the opposition to the Vietnam war led to protests and riots outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square in London. Add into the mix the hangover from the previous year’s “summer of love” and you had a heady cocktail of radicalism, opposition to the establishment, the mainstream and convention.
This spirit of radicalism impacted on culture in general and the film world in particular, no more so than in France where May ’68 became a flashpoint for revolution across all parts of society. Famously, the Cannes Film Festival that month was brought to a halt mid-flow by the likes of François Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard who forced the festival organisers and audiences to choose between the reality outside the cinema or the fiction on the screen. The young film radicals won and closed down Cannes.
In this season we'll be presenting a snapshot of those times: from Gillo Pontecorvo’s ground breaking Battle of Algiers which presented to French audiences the impact of their colonial rule; to Jean Luc Godard’s Weekend, an apocalyptic vision of capitalism and lacerating assault on the bourgeoisie. And wider afield, Peter Lennon’s controversial reflection on Ireland’s independence The Rocky Road to Dublin which premiered at the infamous ’68 Cannes; and maverick Lindsay Anderson’s If…, a very British class revolution set in an English boarding school.
Presented in partnership with Bristol Festival of Ideas.