Thursday, February 21, 2013

Still from Under The Cranes, courtesy of Under The Cranes blog and Hackney Archives
Been busy lately writing a number of articles on local film for the Hackney Citizen newspaper, the latest of which is this feature on a film called Under The Cranes. Directed by radio journalist Emma-Louise Williams, the film is a meditative, impressionist evocation of Hackney over the decades (my native borough), using local voices intertwined with both contemporary and archival footage. In the BFI’s words:

“A polyphonic meditation on time and urban space, a cinematic version of one of Charles Parker’s ‘Radio Ballads’, this Michael Rosen-scripted evocation of the borough of Hackney is a joyous wonder, an instant addition to the modern canon of filmic London. Super-8 streetscapes and archival alleyways rub up against Al Bowlly tunes and Malian kora music, the testimonies of contemporary Congolese immigrants is heard alongside proud retellings of how anti-fascist Jews purged the neighbourhood of Mosley’s henchmen in the 1940s, and child rhymes hang beautifully over a much maligned and increasingly gentrification-threatened area.”

That’s the short description. There’s also a long description of the movie’s themes here.

As part of covering the film, I got to see a screening of it at the Bishopsgate Institute, a great cultural institute right near trendy Spitafields, that I've never had a chance to check out before. The warm-up music was spot on, with plenty of Joe Meek records (including the Meek-produced “Jack The Ripper”, sung by none other than Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages – LOL), while the Q&A afterwards with Williams, Michael Rosen, and Ken Warpole (pictured below), was illuminating in delving into the contexts of the film. 

Rosen’s mention of the convoluted nature of what is currently happening on Dalston Lane, with the boarded up shops on the road having been sold from Hackney Council to ‘some bloke in Dubai’, only for Hackney Council to then buy the property back, all the while stopping local businesses from being able to buy the property outright, is an example of the hugely convoluted nature of property in the borough at the moment. 

In any case, the constantly changing face of the borough is only one more reason for seeing the film. I’m not sure if you can get it on DVD, but the film’s blog has details on upcoming screenings.

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