As part of Summer of Love: Revisitedseason, we’re excited to be screening Yoko Ono’s Film No. 4, which was famously banned from the Royal Albert Hall some 50 years ago.

Following the screening, Oscar winning producer and Director of Birds Eye View, Mia Bays will host a panel discussion looking at censorship in the counterculture era. Ahead of the screening Mia shared her thoughts on the importance of the film and cultural censorship in the ’60s.

The Royal Albert Hall has finally lifted its 50 year ban and are getting ‘behind’ Yoko Ono’s Film No.4, more commonly known as Bottoms. This is significant to us, as Bird’s Eye View Film has been championing the female voice in film since 2002, and are excited to be involved in an event that recognises Ono’s pioneering work as an artist and filmmaker, and as a key figure in the women’s and peace movements.

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Due to debut at the venue in 1967, the screening was cancelled after the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) imposed a ban on Bottoms, deeming it ‘not suitable for public exhibition’. As the title suggests, the film consists entirely of rear ends. These are provided by the movers and shakers of the British art scene and counterculture. And move they do as their buttocks are shot in close up as they walk on a tread mill. The result is strangely hypnotic: a fleshy abstraction dividing the screen into four quadrants that move to a regular beat. In voice-over we hear the participants’ intellectual responses to the film’s absurdist concept. This is the element that elevates the experience as a big screen experience.

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The new spirit of liberalism in the 1960s pushed the boundaries of propriety. The censorship of, and bans imposed upon, films and literature of the period highlight the social, political and generational fault lines that defined the decade.

Yoko Ono staged a conceptual protest at the BBFC offices, the morning after the ban was announced, handing out 1000 daffodils with members of the cast. The protest proved a success, winning over the censors who displayed the flowers around their offices and granted the film a Local X rating for London. Ono told reporters, ‘The whole idea of the film is one of peace. It’s quite harmless. It is not in the least bit dirty or kinky. There’s no murder or violence.’ She was right but the buttoned-up Royal Albert Hall thought otherwise and refused to screen the film. Until now. What a cheek!


Wednesday 3 May 2017

Fifty years since it was originally banned the Royal Albert Hall will screen the film in its entirety for the first time, alongside an expert panel discussion.

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