Crafting Resistance: The Art of Chilean Political Prisoners is an oral history film examining how craftwork, made by political prisoners during their internment in the 1970s by the military regime led by General Pinochet, has contributed to the mental health and well-being of those involved, particularly following their exile to the UK. The film engages with important issues around forced migration, well-being and resistance, showing how even in the most extreme circumstances it is sometimes possible to exert a degree of agency and demonstrate resistance. Given the longevity of the Chilean experience, the film illustrates how people live with the aftermath of torture and incarceration.
The film is directed by Carmen Luz Parot and ex political prisoner, Gloria Miqueles and produced by Jasmine Gideon, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at Birkbeck (firstname.lastname@example.org). The film was edited by Bea Moyes at the Derek Jarman Lab.
In 2018 I managed the project ‘Working River’, documenting the living history of London’s boatyards, from the Thames Barrier up to Teddington Lock. The project was run by the wonderful Thames Festival Trust, in partnership with the Museum of London, supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. To help make this project happen, 25 fantastic volunteers worked with me to interview 28 men and women who spent their lives working in, or with, London’s boatyards and shipyards. Ranging from aged 18 to 87 years old, we recorded their memories of these yards, their training and the development of their prolific boatbuilding skills, as well as the significant changes to this Thames industry during their working lives. 11 of the audio oral history interviews from this project have become part of the collections of the Museum of London, and another 15 are part of a film, made by Digital:Works, about this history. As part of the project we also had four exhibitions along the Thames, as part of Totally Thames festival 2017, attracting over 10,000 visitors to engage with this history. The project was recorded by contemporary photographer Hydar Dewachi, whose beautiful photographs captured the people and the yards today.
Many Lives of A Shield is a short film, directed by Dr Luciana Martins, produced & edited by Bea Moyes of the Derek Jarman Lab. The film came out of a research project, ‘Mobilising the Value of Biocultural Collections in Brazil’, supported by Newton Institutional Links and the British Council, and developed in partnership with Kew Archives and Botanical Collections, the Jardin Botanico do Rio de Janeiro, the Flora Foundation, Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), and Federacao das Organizacoes Indigenas do Rio Negro (FOIRN). This film was made possible with funding from Birkbeck University. From October 2017 until March 2018, the film was exhibited at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens. The project also went onto win the 2018 Birkbeck Public Engagement Award.
A version of the film with Portuguese subtitles is available here.
Working with the London’s Screen Archives, I curated a programme, ‘Women in Film’, relating to London women’s representation on screen over the 20th Century. The programme includes footage from a Suffragette march in 1910, to the election of local MP Judith Church for the borough of Dagenham in 1994, and covers the various portrayals of women in London throughout the 20th century. From glamorized ‘objects’ of the male gaze, to sportswomen, working women, mothers, politicians and activists. I’ve been able to include material from the BFI Archive, with newsreels from the 1920s, as well as clips from Joan Littlewood’s Pleasure Reels from 1963, filmed by Walter Lassally as part of her ‘Fun Palace’ concept with Cedric Price.
The film programme was shown to audiences across London as part of Women’s History Month, from Barking to Hounslow, and was a wonderful opportunity hear the reactions and memories these film archives evoked.
‘The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger’ is a feature length essay film of four parts, made over the past five years by the Derek Jarman Lab. I had the pleasure of being the Assistant Producer and a Camerawoman on this film, and to work with this extraordinary team. The film will be premiered in the Berlinale Special at the Berlin Film Festival 2016, with more screenings in London and internationally later this year.
Louis ‘Studs’ Turkel, was a writer and historian, but most importantly a broadcaster, using the medium of radio to share the stories of the everyman in America throughout the late-20th Century. His books, ‘The Good War’ (which one a Pulitzer Prize), ‘Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do’ (1974) and ‘Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression’ (1970), were all seminal classics of oral history, influencing generations of oral and social historians. I was reminded of Turkel’s great radio by a recent interview I did with Ken Worpole, who was influenced by Turkel and Tony Parker especially, in his autobiographical oral histories with the people of Hackney as part of the Hackney W.E.A group ‘A Hackney People’s Autobiography’, in the 1970s and 1980s.
There are 1000s of hours of interviews and oral history in this free digital archive, but if you want somewhere to start I would dive into the radio Studs Turkel Produced in 1964, following the Civil Rights movement in Alabama. His interviews with Martin Luther King Jr, but also with everyday men and women involved in the protests, and with white southerners, particularly one taxi driver, giving you a unique picture of the opinions of the times. This is radio with the ability to excite, disgust and surprise, History in the words and voice of the people, as they lived it. I hope you find it as fascinating as I have.