Feminism and the City: Social Architecture on Screen - DISPATCH15

Feminism and the City: Social Architecture on Screen - DISPATCH

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Global cities are constantly regenerating; new properties being built, new businesses opening and new people moving in. London is perhaps the epitome of this process, but at what cost? Damning reports of social cleansing, as a result of regeneration projects and accelerated cycles of gentrification, dramatically entered the public discourse in the wake of the tragic (and preventable, although the enquiry is still ongoing) fire at Grenfell Tower.

It highlighted London's grave inequality between the rich and the poor and raised vital questions about who and what we as a society values. This short format film programme will explore the stories behind the housing developments, highlight the ever growing need to listen to marginalised voices and to safeguard local communities from destruction and displacement.

Street 66 (2018) chronicles the life of both activist Dora Boatemeh and the Angell Town housing estate. Much loved and respected by her local community, this documentary short pays tribute Dora and the endurance she brought to a long campaign to secure unprecedented community led regeneration of the Angell Town housing estate from Lambeth Council in the late 1980s. Residents describe the terrible living conditions they found themselves in and their ability to form a powerful collective to control the direction of redevelopment to suit their needs and create a safe environment. Contributors do however note that since redevelopment has taken place there and in the surrounding area, rents and property prices have skyrocketed without systems such as rent control being put in place.

A Moving Image (2016) looks at the process of gentrification through the eyes of Nina; an artist returning to the Brixton where she grew up to find a very different Brixton to the one she left; a Brixton now with organic green grocers, coffee shops serving colourful flat-whites and plant based brunch spots replacing the businesses owned by the people she grew up with. The film incorporates both fiction and documentary as Nina tries to make sense of the change in Brixton by creating a piece of art as well as the change in herself and the position she now finds herself in; between two social demographics. This film plainly asks  - what is our role in gentrification?

The Disappearance of Robin Hood (2018) documents the lives of those living in Poplar's Robin Hood Gardens housing estate as the building faces demolition. We hear residents recount their personal histories entwined with history of the building. The film weaves in interviews with architects Alison and Peter Smithson, the designers of the estate, explaining their vision for 'streets in the sky;' wanting communities to be born and sustained in these high rise homes. They highlight the post-war, modernist ideal to provide well built and safe homes for all those living in Britain despite differing incomes. The residents themselves provide powerful testimonies to support the Smithson's vision as we hear about and see diverse demographics co-existing, looking out for one and another and sharing resources.

Feminism and the City: The City has a special place in the heart of cinema. Often constructed as another character in filmic narratives the City consistently has a powerful role, which is reflected in the our increasingly cosmopolitan lives. The architectural design of the City shapes how we work, travel, think and feel. This set of films will explore how metropolitan architecture and design influences our understanding of gender and politics. This film programme will focus on automated voices, the social housing crisis and the woman flâneur.

DISPATCH FMI is an intersectional feminist moving image curatorial practice and online platform with a focus on works created by women. Our aim is to bring feminist cinema and theory to all by making our screenings accessible, affordable, and educational.

Programme supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London. Proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network, funded by the National Lottery.