News - Other Grooves

Other Grooves

The BFI announces Other Grooves, offering an eccentric excursion to the furthest fringes of youth music, culture and alternative lifestyles, as captured in nearly a century of archive film and TV...

A major new addition to Britain on Film on the BFI Player VOD service, many of which you can watch for FREE, this collection presents a rich and rare selection of over 100 newly digitised archive films and television programmes, much of it previously unseen, from the BFI National Archive and regional and national archives across the UK.

These films offer fascinating insights into succeeding generations’ cultural obsessions and counter-culture identities, from mods, skinheads and rude boys, punks and pagans, rockers, rastas and ravers – not to mention artists, anarchists and free thinkers, ufologists, witches and spiritualists.

Highlights of the collection include Shellshock Rock (1979), a dynamic documentary which brilliantly captures Ulster’s vibrant New Wave scene at its height. The intriguingly named The Adventures of the Son of Exploding Sausage (1969) with The Bonzo Dog Band, features a moodily surreal, psychedelic road trip for this legendary band.

All of the films explore 20th century manners and morals and offer viewers a different sense of British history. The world of amateur witchcraft is captured through the eyes of Penny, a mini-skirted hairdresser and would-be apprentice witch, in Secret Rites (1971), unseen for a generation. Daniel Farson reveals the spooky world of flying saucer enthusiasts in 1950s Britain in the pioneering television documentary Other Worlds Are Watching Us (1957).

Moral anxieties about youth cults are explored fully in Extremes (1971) an eye-opening exposé of the outrageous antics of young hippies, pop-fans, drug addicts, Hell’s Angels, and other members of the “alternative society.” And return to the days of skiffle with Michael Winner’s recently recovered film debut, The Square (1957), a wonderfully evocative late 1950s drama short, including a serious skiffle-music street party in London’s King’s Cross. The film was left to the BFI by the late Michael Winner and was never released in cinemas and has never previously been available to the public. 

More highlights:

Beatlemania (1963)  All four Beatles reveal all in this excellent unedited interview footage shot the night after the legendary 1963 Royal Variety Performance which famously saw John Lennon suggest that the better off members of the audience might like to ‘rattle their jewellery’ to ‘Twist and Shout’.

Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate (1970)  This terrific time-capsule, counter culture, kaleidoscope view of the ‘cultural and racial melting pot’ that was Notting Hill in 1970, ‘probably the world’s most integrated ghetto’, is chock-full of free-spirits, spaced-out sitar sounds at sunrise and the prog-rock grooves of Quintessence, featuring Phil Shiva Jones and Raja Ram, live in the local church hall – and flying their freak flag high.

Squatparty (1979)  First generation female punks have fun boozing, smoking and talking in this fascinating short film from outstanding London lifestyle chronicler Captain Zip, with great music by Elvis Costello and The Clash.

The Music Machine (1979) It’s Saturday Night Fever, North London style, with this bubbly, British, disco dance contest drama starring Patti Boulaye, Gerry Sundquist and The Wire’s Clarke Peters, shot in and around the legendary Camden Palace nightspot.

Spirit of Albion (1987)  Richard Philpott’s poetic, political and perennially pertinent documentary feature allows us to travel alongside the people of the Peace Convoy as these New Age travellers struggle to preserve their nomadic way of life in Thatcher’s Britain.

Midnight Breaks (1990)  Big Audio Dynamite’s Don Letts – previously both a musician and a documentarian of the punk lifestyle – made his acting debut in this gripping, gritty, feature film drama of dreads, drugs and music business corruption also starring Toyah Willcox, Dawn Hope and Robbie Coltrane.

Rave (1997)  a documentary revealing the secret world of “rave” parties with DJ Insanity Sound System

BFI Player VOD service presents over 5,000 archive film and television programmes, the majority of which are free to view online for anyone across the UK, drawn from the national and regional collections of UK archives including the BFI National Archive. Find what else is available at 

Images - BFI
Left to Right, Clockwise: Row 1 Shellshock Rock (1979) [BFI National Archive], Secret Rites (1971) [BFI National Archive], The Square (1957) [BFI National Archive]. Row 2 Extremes (1971) [BFI National Archive], Other Worlds Are Watching Us (1957) [BFI National Archive], Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate (1970) [BFI National Archive]
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