You may also be interested in the screening of Uprising of 34 followed by Q&A with Dick Fontaine on Sunday 6th May at 3pm!
“My graduating film from the National Film School. Colin Young, the head of the N.F.S., helped me a great deal to structure the film, as did Brian Winston.”
Made with Phillip Jones Griffith, Diana Ruston, and Graham Berry; and a special thanks to the Singletons who were the inspiration for the film.
Running Time: 50 minutes
“Not least of the advantages of ‘Behind the Rent Strike’ is the simplicity and clarity of its structure. The film deals with the rent strike undertaken by 3000 tenants in Kirkby New Town, shortly before Christmas 1973, as a protest against the Housing Finance Bill. Beginning and ending with affirmation of the value of the experience gained during the action, ‘Behind the Rent Strike’ falls into two main sections. The first deals with social conditions in Kirkby: from an exposé of appalling housing conditions, the film moves inside Ruffwood Comprehensive School, where we first of all witness visits by representatives of authority formally external to the school (religion and the police) and then a compelling scene of internal school discipline acted out between the deputy headmaster, another master and two boys. The teachers play their parts with great relish, for all the world like slightly older and more powerful bullies. The work possibilities open to the young people of Kirkby are then demonstrated in footage of a chicken processing factory employing almost entirely female labour. The second section deals with the rent strike — tenants’ meetings, council meetings, clashes between tenants and police, and the attempt to extend the strike to include industrial action, the arrest of one militant and the consequent demonstrations. ‘Behind the Rent Strike’ is an extremely competent movie — ebullient, enthusiastic and entertaining.”
Rosalind Delmar, Sight and Sound
“A totally brilliant and riveting account of a rent strike in Kirkby involving 3000 tenants. Insightful without being didactic.” – Rod McShane, Time Out “The difficult stuff for a trendy liberal is contained in ‘Behind the Rent Strike,’ which crudely centres around the anger of tenants on a housing estate outside Liverpool: Tower Hill, Kirkby, 1972-73. A magnificent Liverpudlian lady as good as spits at the interrogating director in the opening instants: ‘I’m very sceptical … the working-class position may change, but it won’t change through the media’ (or words to that effect: her nostrils flare stormily as she utters. People were being asked to pay what they thought to be too much for their council flats, someone organised them, they revolted. Mr. Broomfield set out to make a screenable account of their group-action. The ‘behind’ of his title is a saver, because he has filmed an extraordinary, irascible series of visits: somehow he and his crew got backstage, Kirkby-side. You can forget the matter of rents and restlessness in favour of a hard look at the local comprehensive school — a headmaster at assembly helping a Bible-seller to dish out his stock to his flock, a senior teacher (enjoying the camera, hands false-nonchalantly in pockets) telling off kids for a playground fight, an articulate cop addressing a class of tinies and ensuring they will despise policemen from here to eternity. There is a sustained circling shot round a factory-floor of women picking chickens to bits. Mr. Broomfield — to put it as moderately as possible — knows that some pictures speak louder than any words. Truth, however selected, may be stranger than fiction, and stronger.”
John Coleman, New Statesman
“The Broomfield Technique works by zooming in on the inessentials as the means of getting to the heart of the matter. He leaves in what conventional documentary-makers would edit out and keeps rolling in front of stories on which most people would consider it extravagant madness to waste valuable reels.”
John Carlin, The Daily Telegraph
“Broomfield is a cinematic Mr. Pooter. In his diffident English way he runs into trouble with his documentary subjects, ands finds himself with a wonderfully funny and revealing picture.”
Sean French, The Observer
“Nick BroomfieId’s way of filming is all his own. Chicco Twala, the star of ‘Too White for Me’ described it when phoning his partner. ‘I have no choice. I have to bring them along. They are sitting in my lounge right now.’ He winked hugely at Broomfield, who was in fact filming him.
‘They are following me wherever I am going. Except the toilet.’ This was a simple oversight.”
Nancy Banks-Smith, The Guardian
“Broomfield casually explodes that fragile construct of ‘the objective’ documentary in favour of a helpless absurdism totally in tune with the times. The tenets of an entire genre are implicitly mocked, He leaves in what others are trained to take out and doesn’t appear to possess a traditional ‘viewpoint’ — which explains why he angers liberals and conservatives alike.”
John Little, The London Independent
“If Broomfield took up wedding photography, the divorce rate would be even higher.”
Derek Malcolm, The Guardian
Nick Broomfield studied Law at Cardiff, and Political Science at Essex University. He then went on to study Film at the National Film School, under Professor Colin Young.
Nick first got interested aged 15 when discovering his love for photography on a foreign exchange visit in France. “A great way to strike up conversations, and a great excuse to ask questions about the World around you”. He made his first film WHO CARES about Slum Clearance in Liverpool, while at University, by borrowing a wind up Bolex camera, and shooting it on short ends.
Professor Colin Young at the NFS had a great influence on his work encouraging participant observation, as well as introducing him to the lovely and most talented Joan Churchill. Together Joan and Nick made several films, JUVENILE LIAISON, TATTOOED TEARS, SOLDIER GIRLS, LILY TOMLIN and more recently AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER. They also have a son together.
Nick was originally influenced by the observational style of Fred Wiseman,and Robert Leacock and Pennebaker, before moving on largely by accident to the more idiosyncratic style for which he is better known. While ?making DRIVING ME CRAZY in 1988, a film hopelessly out of control, Nick decided to place himself and the producer of the film in the story, as a way of making sense of the event.
This experiment led to a sense of greater freedom, from the confines of observational cinema, and led to a more investigative and experimental type of filmmaking. ie THE LEADER THE DRIVER, AILEEN WURNOS, KURT AND COURTNEY, BIGGIE AND TUPAC.