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Style and attitude: Social(ist) realism in the Polish Black Series and British Free Cinema

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Free Cinema, the British documentary film movement, emerged in the 1950s – at the same time, Polish film-makers created the ‘Black Series’ of documentary. Both movements seemed to be informed by social commitment and an ambition to portray the ordinary life of underprivileged communities that official cinema neglected. Both can be seen as examples of social realism even though the social reality depicted by the British directors was quite different from the one that Polish film-makers were showing. At the same time, traces of socialist realism, quite obvious in the Black Series, can also be found in Free Cinema. Despite the ideological and aesthetic differences between the two movements, determined by both politics and cinematic traditions, they have a lot in common. The comparison of these British and Polish documentary formations of the 1950s reveals how the notions of social and socialist realism merge, although their definitions depict them as opposite.
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Keywords: Black Series; British cinema; Free Cinema; Polish cinema; social realism; socialist realism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences

Publication date: July 26, 2011

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