From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Free Cinema Movement was a significant indpendent cinema movement in Great Britain during the 1950s. This movement encouraged younger filmmakers to experiment with ground-breaking cinematic techniques like on-location shooting, hand-held camera work and documentary filmmaking.
Directors like Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson collaborated on a series of short-subject documentary films that explored the culture of Britain and its youth in the late 1950s. Films like Momma Don't Allow (1956) and We are the Lambeth Boys (1959) captured the spirit of the British youth whether it is dancing in the Jazz clubs or hanging out in the streets of Liverpool. These films were screened at the National Film Theatre between 1956 and 1959.
All the films made under the "The Free Cinema Movement" banner had several common traits. First of all, they were all 'free' from the big studios. They were all either financed independently or under the charitable contribution of several art funds. The crews were generally un-paid and the equipment used was minimal and far below industry standards. The films were made employing the use of 16mm cameras which were mostly hand-held, a significant method that was experimented with later during the peak of the New Wave by cinematographers like Walter Lassally.