In June 2014, I curated and co-hosted a small film festival at Birkbeck Cinema, in collaboration with the Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image and the Derek Jarman Lab.
The festival, ‘East London on Film’, arose from a number of conversations and my own research into the filmic history of East London, and the representation of particularly Stratford, in light of the recent Olympic Games and the rapid subsequent redevelopments around Hackney Wick.
Many of the films we were able to show came from independent filmmakers, using film as a documentary tool, but also as a political and personal response to the sweeping changes with the Olympic park brought. We screened Hilary Powell’s important film ‘The Games’, parodying past Olympic films such as Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘Olympia’. But also Saint Etienne and Paul Kelly’s ‘What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day?’, part of their London Trilogy; alongside a short film by Birkbeck student and filmmaker Sally Mumby-Croft, featuring Iain Sinclair. We were able also, to compare these recent films with older representations of the East London landscape in flux, including Barney Platts-Mills’ fantastic ‘Bronco Bullfrog’ (1969), and Lorenza Mazzetti’s post-war ‘Together’ (1955), which was part of the Free Cinema collective set up by Lindsey Anderson.
For the second day of the festival, we were able to look closely at an important pair of documentaries. The first, ‘Vince, Paul, Lawrence and Richard’, broadcast by the BBC, considered the lives of four young children in Stepney in 1971, and the impact of the area on their futures. While the second, a filmic response to this initial documentary by artists Chris Dorley-Brown, revisited the boys featured in the BBC Documentary and critiqued the ethics and role of documentary, not only in these children’s lives, but also in the wider historical representation of East London. It was fantastic to have Chris Dorley-Brown at the festival to discuss his film, and his wider photographic ‘Re-Shoots’ series, considering the elements of time-travel and the photographic moment. The short film above, was filmed and edited by Jeongmin Kang and Fiona Baihui at the Derek Jarman Lab, featuring Chris in discussion with Bruce Eadie, who co-organised the festival.
I have lots of people to thank for helping me curate and put on this festival, firstly the Derek Jarman Lab and key people like Bartek Dziadosz, Jeongmin Kang, Fiona Baihui, Alistair Dunlop, and of course Bruce Eadie. I have to thank all the filmmakers who were involved, Hilary Powell, Sally Mumby-Croft and of course Chris Dorley-Brown. Also, everyone at Birkbeck, particularly Sarah Joshi, for all her help.