British Film Institute


Last night I went to the British Film Institute on the South Bank.

Jigs & Rituals: British Folklore on Film
Mysterious, eerie, colourful and rousing – the folk customs of the British Isles are all these things and more. The films presented tonight, in part drawn from a recent donation to the BFI from the English Folk Dance and Song Society, offer a range of approaches to documenting these dances and traditions. Highlights include Oss Oss Wee Oss (1952) a beautiful and evocative documentary about a 'sexy, savage springtime rite' (made by blues song-hunter Alan Lomax), a newly restored early sound film of folk musician Sam Bennett (1926) and the 'what-the-butler-saw' type Kinoras of Cecil Sharp and George Butterworth dancing over 100 years ago and accompanied tonight by a traditional fiddle player.

The BFI were showing some films that EFDSS have recently donated to them. These included some very old restored footage of Sam Bennett of Ilmington dancing Morris jigs and playing fiddle for a girls Morris team.

There was a live fiddle player playing along to some of the dances which included footage of old staid Cecil Sharp himself dancing. Some of these had been restored to digital from Kinora cards.

The footage of Sam Bennett looked to me like a man dancing in an extremely casual way. An untrained eye might have even mistaken his dancing for a parody of a morris jig, with hankies and knees all over the place. I loved it.

Sam Bennett