Monday, September 10, 2012

An amazing moment happened last night during the finale of the Hackney Film Festival, ran by friends of mine, which has taken place all this weekend. The evening saw a number of short documentaries being showed, after which a feature-length documentary called Swandown was screened, directed by Andrew Kötting and starring himself and Iain Sinclair (author of London Orbital and Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire). The film, essentially a ‘psycho-geography’ 
travelogue, involves Kötting and Sinclair (who also took part in a Q&A in person, pictured left) pedalling a swan-shaped pedalo (pictured below) all the way from Hastings to Hackney in east London along various English Thames estuary rivers which connect the sea with London. As with London Orbital, the characters they encounter en route are as much a part of the story as the ride itself. What’s significant is that the film ends as Kötting arrives, still pedalling on the river, at the Olympic site, where sinister recorded voices tell them that he has to leave (Sinclair himself has remained hugely ambivalent over the Olympics). The screening took place in an open-air square in Hackney Wick, surrounded by luxury flats and owned by an adjacent venue called Carlton London – just across the water, incredibly enough, from the Olympic Stadium, which just happened to be hosting the closing ceremony of the Paralympics at the same time, and thus the ending to the whole summer of London 2012 Olympic/Paralympic events. We could hear Coldplay echoing across the water as they played their usual lighters-aloft anthems. Near the end of the film, before Kötting’s arrival at Olympic Park, Sinclair takes leave of the pedalo, presumably because he was near his home (he lives in Hackney). At the moment Sinclair left the screen, the stadium erupted in a riot of fireworks, along with the rest of the Olympic Park. And what a display: it must have lasted for a good five minutes. Hence the pictures above that I managed to capture, and which should give you some idea of what an amazing moment it turned out to be. Another detailed account of the night can also be viewed here, by one of the HFF founders. 

Photo above taken from Swandown's website

 And in the meantime: goodbye to London 2012 and an incredible summer.

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