Duncan Petrie
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Art cinema, British production and the 1960s
in British art cinema
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During the 1960s British cinema experienced a creative rejuvenation fuelled by American finance and a cultural climate dominated by youthful dynamism and innovation. This created an interesting conjuncture in which the barriers between mainstream genre cinema and the more experimental or personal preoccupations of art cinema became blurred. The emergence of London as a centre of dynamic cultural activity – in which cinema benefited from developments in television, pop music, fashion and the visual arts – coupled with the propagation of new cultural and political ideas, created an environment in which the stylistic and thematic preoccupations of art cinema could thrive. Before long, European film-makers were pitching up in London, from established auteurs like Michelangelo Antonioni and François Truffaut to emerging talents such as Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski. This chapter examines some of the ways in which art cinema came to enjoy a higher profile in British cinema of the 1960s. A key theme is the breaking down of boundaries to create a more fluid and inclusive sense of what British cinema could be, providing the opportunity for more overtly experimental, personal and political approaches to filmmaking.

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British art cinema

Creativity, experimentation and innovation

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