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Film Editorial

side.jpg Police Brutality, Media Misrepresentation and Resistance in 1980's Britain

In 1980’s Britain the dominant narrative was capitalist excess and wealth, but the reality was very different for many people.

The streets were erupting in anger at inequality, discrimination, misrepresentation and police violence. From London, to Birmingham, Belfast and Easington Colliery the people of the UK were taking their resistance to the streets. The mainstream media portrayed the people as the aggressors while film workshops, responding from within the communities, set out to represent the lived reality.

Side Cinema are facilitating a season of films grown from this collective way of working to reflect and explore the experiences of people outside the mainstream representation in the 80’s. They'll be screening 4 films and facilitating 5 online conversations with figures from the Workshop Movement and members of the community in which they worked, and exploring the lasting resonance of these seminal films and how they speak to this current moment of unease and protest.

September 24th - The People's Account

A documentary drawn from oral histories and first-person accounts of the Broadwater Farm uprising which took place on a housing estate in Tottenham, north London in 1984. The film is told from the point of view of the black community which lives there. This was Ceddo’s first film for Channel 4 though it was never screened - the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) objected to the description of the police as racist, lawless terrorists, and to the description of the riot as a legitimate act of self-defence. The network asked for changes to be made. Ceddo refused.

October 1st - Acceptable Levels

A BBC film crew is interviewing a ‘typical Catholic family’ in the Divis Flats area of Belfast, when news comes in that a child, known to the family, has been hit by a stray plastic bullet fired by a British soldier – a version of events contested by the army. Back in London, editing the footage, the producer and researcher on the project wrestle with how to present the incident, and with their responsibility to the people in the film.

October 8th - Handsworth Songs

A film essay on race and civil disorder in 1980s Britain and the inner city riots of 1985, Handsworth Songs takes as its point of departure the civil disturbances of September and October 1985 in the Birmingham district of Handsworth and in the urban centres of London. Running throughout the film is the idea that the riots were the outcome of a protracted suppression by British society of black presence. The film portrays civil disorder as an opening onto a secret history of dissatisfaction that is connected to the national drama of industrial decline.

October 15th - What Happened Here

On August 24th, six months into the miners’ strike of 1984-’85, 2,000 police descended on this small colliery village with the aim of getting one man across the picket line. Easington became a village of occupation. Thirty-five years later, on August 24th 2019, Amber helped stage a Miners Picnic to remember with pride the efforts the people of Easington had made to save their jobs and protect their community.

In 2019 Amber had been invited to take part in the National Trust’s People’s Landscapes programme. This was an opportunity to re-engage with the ex-pit villages of East Durham and in particular Easington Colliery. ‘What Happened Here’ is the film that came out of this year long engagement.