‘Audition / Momma Don’t Allow
“Documentary” footage of auditions for the Prague theatre which Forman filmed on 16mm for his own interest and as a record formed the basis of his 1963 debut film Audition. Consisting of two films, If There Were No Music focusing on the rehearsals of amateur musicians preparing for annual brass band championships, and Audition, capturing hopeful would-be singers, the film effectively launched the Czech New Wave. Sharing Audition’s humble beginnings, a desire to record hidden reality and with little prospect of being screened, is Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson’s Momma Don’t Allow. Shot on 16mm as an account of an evening at the Wood Green Jazz Club and similarly to Audition, it captures the emerging youth culture. With an extended introduction by Peter Hames.
MOMMA DON’T ALLOW
Karel Reisz, 1956 | 22 min | B/W | 35mm
This lively Free Cinema short captures a night out at the Wood Green Jazz Club, where teenagers jive to trad jazz. Funded by the BFI Experimental Film Fund, it was filmed over the course of nine Saturdays by Karel Reisz, then programmer of the National Film Theatre, and a young BBC television director called Tony Richardson. Both were key protagonists in the development of the Free Cinema documentary movement and then, as feature film directors, the British New Wave. Momma Don’t Allow exudes warmth and is sympathetic to its working-class characters, contrasting the relaxed, confident working-class ‘Teddy Boys’ and their girlfriends with the more awkward ‘toffs’, whose arrival threatens to change the mood of the evening.
Miloš Forman, 1963 | 79 min | B/W | TBC
Audition (Konkurs) is Miloš Forman’s debut film and launched what became known internationally as the Czech New Wave. Although made as two separate ‘featurettes’, the style and themes were very similar and they were released as one film. Konkurs is important as the first work of a world-renowned director because it clearly shows the beginnings of the style and pre-occupations prominent in many of Forman’s subsequently acclaimed films including A Blonde in Love, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus.
“What happened was something which until today I will never forget, I even see images from that Sunday afternoon. The curtain goes up and there is this chorus and they suddenly start to open their mouths and you don t hear anything. But suddenly-because it is such a popular opera- the audience in the cinema started to sing and the whole time people in the cinema were delivering the sound, they were singing all the arias, all the songs from the opera! This was something that was so powerful in its absurdity that it probably provoked in me some idea that this is the most powerful thing, which could happen, to show these flickering images and it can lead people to this expression, to this kind of attitude towards music.” – Miloš Forman
Peter Hames is Visiting Professor in Film Studies at Staffordshire University. His books include The Czechoslovak New Wave, The Cinema of Jan Svankmajer, and Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition. He most recently contributed to the award winning Fairy-Tale Films Beyond Disney. He is also a programme advisor to the BFI London Film Festival.’ (CC)