Sights and sounds of London's Sixties underground brought to life

A series of films and events delving deep into 1960s counterculture begins this week in London, thanks to De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Cinema and Television History (CATH) research centre.

The View from Underground has been put together in collaboration with independent directors, filmmakers and artists who were part of the celebrated counterculture movement.
Each event explores a different aspect of London counterculture – underground film, the music press and the experiences of women who were part of the Sixties movement. Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, Julie Felix, Ian Anderson, Jenny Spires and Curved Air will appear on screen as audiences discover the people who documented this pivotal time in British history.  

The View from Underground follows a hugely successful Summer of Love series organised at London’s Royal Albert Hall last year. The CATH team celebrated the work of Peter Whitehead with screenings of the seminal Tonight Let’s all Make Love in London; Pink Floyd London ’66-’67 and Wholly Communion.

The series includes:
•    Projecting Psychedelia  (April 5). An evening of surprises with British underground filmmakers Antony Stern (Whitehead’s assistant director) and Kevin Whitney. Includes a screening of Stern’s short experimental film ‘San Francisco’ using the first recording of the Floyd’s legendary ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ as its soundtrack; Whitney’s split-screen ‘Psychedelia’ includes rare footage of Syd Barret in 1968 and Red/Green; unseen footage from Glastonbury, live performances from London space-punk band Cut and the chance to try the effects of the Hypnagogic Light Machine, thanks to Sophia Satchell-Baeza of King’s College London.  

•    A special screening of documentary Melody Makers on April 11. Acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Leslie Ann Coles shows her feature-length film about the much-missed music paper and its chief photography Barry Wentzell. As well as a host of former ‘Melody Maker’ journalists (and Peter Whitehead), the film has interviews with rock stars such as Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Eric Burden (The Animals), and Sonja Kristina (Curved Air). The evening will conclude with a Q&A with Leslie Ann and some of those featured in her film.

•    Women of the Counterculture (April 25) will look at the experiences of creative women working, innovating and experimenting in turbulent 1960s London. Meet folk icon, activist and television presenter, Julie Felix; singer-songwriter, Carol Grimes; important countercultural figure, English Boy model and part of the Pink Floyd crew, Jenny Spires; artist and Exploding Galaxy member, Jill Drower. The evening will finish with a rare screening of the evocative Dope (1968). This event will be co-ordinated by Alissa Clarke (co-curator of CATH’s Peter Whitehead Archive and co-producer of the ‘Peter Whitehead Residency’ at the Royal Albert Hall) and Sophia Satchell-Baeza (King’s College London).

The View from Underground opens at the landmark Regent Street Cinema in London’s West End. The cinema auditorium was where the Lumiere brothers first demonstration their Cinematograph machine in 1896 and where the first X-certificate film was screened - and next door to where three members of a certain band called Pink Floyd studied from 1962 to 1966.  

Tickets for The View from the Underground can be bought here

Posted on Wednesday 4th April 2018

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