What’s On: The Rulebreakers: Innovations in the Doc Genre

Posted September 25th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen


A  weekly series of 10 films at Bertha DocHouse that have influenced and developed the art of documentary and which continue to inspire us today.

The Rule Breakers is a 10 week educational series that we’re incredibly excited about. The season is a journey through the ‘boundary pushing’ docs of the 20th and 21st century, from Robert Flaherty’s Man of Aran in the 30s, to Peter Watkins’ controversial Punishment Park in the 70s, right up to the radically experimental and immersive Leviathan in 2012.  In short, it’s a celebration of the films that have made documentary the complex and exciting form it is today.

Not only are these films essential viewing for any doc lovers or makers, they will also be presented each week by the eminent Professor Ian Crisite, whose bank of film knowledgeable is unparalleled, and who sprinkles his introductions with such fascinating trivia that you are guaranteed to be kept on the edge of your seat!

The series will take place every Tuesday at 3.45pm, 29th September – 8th December (with a break 3rd November)

Tickets are just £5 per screening, or you can buy a season ticket to the whole series for just £40.


Man of Aran + Intro

Dir:  Robert J. Flaherty

Tuesday 29 September 2015 3:45pm

This epic film on the harsh lives of the Aran Islanders remains controversial. With dramatised scenes, expressionistic photography and innovative sound, it pushed the boundaries between art and documenting.

Listen to Britain and Fires Were Started + Intro

Dir: Humphrey Jennings

Tuesday 6 October 2015 3:45pm

In classic Jennings style these two intimate and moving poetic portraits of a besieged Britain go against the conventional mould of wartime propaganda.

We Are The Lambeth Boys + Intro


Dir: Karel Reisz

Tuesday 13 October 2015 3:45pm

A classic from the ‘Free Cinema’ movement. Karol Reisz filmed a London boys’ club in the 1950’s, giving working-class teenagers a voice for the first time.

Salesman + Intro

Dir:  Albert Maysles & David Maysles & Charlotte Zwerin

Tuesday 20 October 2015 3:45pm

The Maysles capture, in intimate detail, the life and struggles of a group of  door-to-door bible salesmen, constructed through purely ‘observational’ sequences. 

Chronicle of a Summer + Intro

Dir: Jean Rouch & Edgar Morin

Tuesday 27 October 2015 3:45pm

Chronicle of a Summer captures the thoughts and opinions of 1960s Parisians, then asks them to reflect on the footage – creating a radical breakthrough in documentary.

Punishment Park + Intro

Dir: Peter Watkins

Tuesday 10 November 2015 3:45pm

In 1971 Watkins created a fictional arena where arrested Vietnam War protesters (non-actors) had to choose between prison sentences or three days in ‘Punishment Park’ run by ex-prison guards. The results were shocking.

Roger & Me + Intro


Dir: Michael Moore

Tuesday 17 November 2015 3:45pm

Michael Moore embarks on the ultimate self-reflexive quest to solve his hometown’s economic troubles by door-stepping General Motors chairman Roger Smith, placing himself firmly in the frame.

One Day in September + Intro

Dir: Kevin Macdonald

Tuesday 24 November 2015 3:45pm

In 1972, athletes from around the globe gathered in Munich, Germany for the Olympic Games. However, the Olympic spirit of brotherhood and peaceful competition was shattered when eight Palestinian terrorists invaded the athletes’ quarters to take the Israeli team hostage while the world looked on, incredulous. 

The Gleaners and I + Intro


Dir: Agnès Varda

Tuesday 1 December 2015 3:45pm

Agnes Varda’s essay is a self-reflexive diary/documentary of people who exist by re-using things others regard as useless in modern society. Part social critique, part art piece, the film reclaimed the genre for creative expression. 

Leviathan + Intro


Dir: Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Tuesday 8 December 2015 3:45pm

Taking us deep into the dangerous world of commercial fishing via an immersive cinematic experience, Leviathan won wide acclaim for its innovative and unprecedented approach to documentary making. 

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