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Mechanical Ballet

Double-screen found-footage film in which car crash tests take a sinister and humorous quality.

1975 9 mins Silent


The original material that forms the basis for Mechanical Ballet is an anonymous short reel of film of what appears to be car crash tests, carried out in a deadpan and somewhat cumbersome manner. Reworked into a two-screen film and divorced from their original context, they take on both a sinister and humorous quality. Mechanical Ballet was born out of an interest in ‘found footage’ film (in its relation to collage and assemblage) and the possibilities offered by the London Film-Makers’ Co-op workshop in terms of manipulation of the filmstrip and the film frame, projection, duration and the film printing process.

Founded in 1966, the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative started life at Better Books, a counter-culture bookshop on Charing Cross Road, where a group led by poet Bob Cobbing and filmmakers Stephen Dwoskin and Jeff Keen met to screen films. Initially inspired by the activities of the New American Cinema Group in New York, the London Co-op grew into a pioneering organisation that incorporated a film workshop, cinema space and distribution office. During its four-decade history, the Co-op played a crucial role in establishing film as an art form in the UK and participated in a vibrant international film scene. This BFI Player collection brings together new scans of films distributed by and/or produced at the London Co-op.