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Cinema Action

Film collective

Main image of Cinema Action

Cinema Action was among several left-wing film collectives formed in the late sixties. The group started in 1968 by exhibiting in factories a film about the French student riots of that year. These screenings attracted people interested in making film a part of political activism. With a handful of core members - Ann Guedes, Gustav (Schlacke) Lamche and Eduardo Guedes - the group pursued its collective methods of production and exhibition for nearly twenty-five years.

Cinema Action's work stands out from its contemporaries' in its makers' desire to co-operate closely with their working-class subjects. The early films campaigned in support of various protests close to Cinema Action's London base. Not a Penny on the Rent (1969), attacking proposed council rent increases, is an example of the group's early style.

By the beginning of the seventies, Cinema Action began to receive grants from trades unions and the British Film Institute. This allowed it to produce, in particular, two longer films analysing key political and union actions of the time. People of Ireland! (1971) portrayed the establishment of Free Derry in Northern Ireland as a step towards a workers' republic. UCS1 (1971) records the work-in at the Upper Clyde Shipyard; it is a unique document, as all other press and television were excluded.

Both these films typify Cinema Action's approach of letting those directly involved express themselves without commentary. They were designed to provide an analysis of struggles, which could encourage future action by other unions or political groups.

The establishment of Channel Four provided an important source of funding and a new outlet for Cinema Action. Films such as So That You Can Live (1981) and Rocking the Boat (1983) were consciously made for a wider national audience. In 1986, Cinema Action made its first fiction feature, Rocinante, starring John Hurt.

Alice Fraser & Kieron Webb

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From the BFI's filmographic database

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Arise Ye Workers (1973)Arise Ye Workers (1973)

Cinema Action's response to the 1972 Dockers' dispute

Thumbnail image of Class Struggle: Film from the Clyde (1977)Class Struggle: Film from the Clyde (1977)

Documentary observing the work-in by Upper Clyde shipbuilders in 1971

Thumbnail image of Fighting the Bill (1970)Fighting the Bill (1970)

Agit-prop film campaigning against the Industrial Relations Act

Thumbnail image of Miners' Film, The (1975)Miners' Film, The (1975)

A record of the coal miners' overtime ban at the end of 1973

Thumbnail image of Not a Penny on the Rents (1968)Not a Penny on the Rents (1968)

Campaign film opposing GLC rent rises for Council homes

Thumbnail image of People of Ireland! (1970)People of Ireland! (1970)

Fiercely partisan doc examining the 'Free Derry' resistance zone

Thumbnail image of So That You Can Live (1982)So That You Can Live (1982)

Reflective film following a Welsh union activist and her family

Thumbnail image of UCS I (1971)UCS I (1971)

Campaign film supporting Clydeside shipbuilders

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Political FilmPolitical Film

Film as an ideological weapon

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