|Under the Cranes, 2011|
Image courtesy of Hackney Archives
"When I first saw Michael Rosen's play for voices, "Hackney Streets" in 2008, I was so moved by this collage of voices and lives which moved across time and space, that I wanted to engage further with it. So I had the idea of taking Michael's original piece of writing and making a textured, audio-visual art piece with it, (or film-poem, as it has been called.)
myself out of the idea! In this sense, the film evolved as I worked on it with a tiny team, recording voices, researching the archive, shooting on Super 16mm and Super 8mm film on 4 separate occasions, finding music, editing, recording and creating the sound track.
The film was completed in March 2011 and premiered in April 2011 as part of the East End Film Festival at the Rio Cinema in Dalston.
I am delighted that we continue to find new audiences for a not-for-profit film like "Under the Cranes" and I think this is largely a testament to the power of Michael's engaged poetic writing.
One of the main themes which runs through the film is the question of "regeneration". This has become a global phenomenon and yet, as an idea and a fact on the ground, it can only be interrogated locally.
"Under the Cranes" is indeed "local" but what it looks at is happening or has happened in places like Paris, Detroit and Berlin. The pattern is nearly always the same; there is an area of dilapidated, derelict property in the inner city; it comes to be squatted or there are local people trying to use it for shops, cafes or workshops; City authorities get hold of it; they sell it off to a developer who moves the local people out and "regenerates" the area by putting up blocks and bringing in the multi-nationals to sell coffee!
The other local/global theme that the film explores is migration, showing some of the struggles (fighting racists, if necessary) that people go through to secure a place for themselves, but also how migration brings diversity and the seeds of renewal. Again, this can only be interrogated meaningfully at a local level, though,of course, it's a worldwide phenomenon which any audience can relate to their own experience and family background.
In "Under the Cranes" I have tried to approach the subject in an artistic way, defamiliarising what we're asked to look at, inviting the audience to see the places and spaces they live and work in, in a new way. At the very least, it invites them to ask questions about how these places are appropriated, owned, used and changed. I've tried to contrast the lives lived by real people across generations with the way in which developers try to get in and make money out of the built environment "in the moment."
In the end, for me, "Under the Cranes" is an expression of feeling about "place" and "home" and the beauty to be found in an urban site, which is why you see in the film the work of three painters who depict the urban landscape - Leon Kossoff, Jock McFadyen and James MacKinnon - just as I have tried to do with the camera."
Spring Screenings Coming up:
May 9 7.30pm Film, Spoken Word with Michael Rosen and Live Music from Mansour Izadpanah
at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green, London
May 12 1.30pm Film and discussion with Rowan Moore, journalist & author "Why We Build"
at Brighton Festival, Brighton Dome Studio Theatre
May 21 10.30am Film plus writer/director Q&A Hackney, University of the Third Age
at Homerton Library, Hackney, London
May 23 7.30pm Film plus writer/director Q&A
at Birkbeck, Institute of the Moving Image, London
|Under the Cranes, 2011|