Listen to Britain

BBC Four


Listen to Britain is one of the great masterpieces of 20th-century film. BBC Four celebrates its 75th anniversary by re-screening the classic documentary ahead of an evening of 12 new films inspired in some wayor other by the original. These were commissioned by BBC Four and the BFI from new and emerging filmmakers as a result of a national call-out.

The evening is introduced by Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald, an ardent fan of Jennings, who speaks passionately about why Listen to Britain is one of his all-time favourite films, not least because it demonstrated that documentaries could be art.

That notion is borne out in the 12 new, short documentary films shown tonight: Each responds to the idea of ‘listening to Britain’ in a surprising, entertaining and original way – some playing on the theme of listening, others questioning the very notion of Britishness in our current, divided times. They offer glimpses of lives lived from the Welsh valleys to the Scottish lowlands, from the heart of middle England to the sometimes mean streets of London. Ranging from wry observation to fierce polemic, most offer a chance to listen to those whose voices are seldom heard.

Together they offer a powerful portrait of a nation of great contrasts – a series of memorable picture postcards, creating a richly patterned mosaic of life in the UK in 2017 and introducing the distinctive voices of the next generation of British documentary film-makers.