Thursday, 29 December 2011

What others are saying about Under the Cranes

“ Engaging, gentle, dreamlike – Williams’ Hackney is a layered, shifting place teeming with multiple voices and realities, echoed verbally by Rosen’s collage of reminiscence, characteristically generous poetry and collected urban folksongs. Rosen’s presence reminds us of east London’s reputation as a place of political upheaval.”
Sight and Sound

“ A marvellous evocation of Hackney – the place, the peoples and their dreams too. It reveals the ruin, disconnection and the frailty of life without giving an inch to literary misanthropy or the voyeuristic perspectives in which east London is exploited for tales of misery, depravity and social failure. “
Patrick Wright, cultural historian

“ This beautifully constructed film urges us to recognise what is already there, at the heart of a diverse and thriving community, while raising the question that perhaps we are all living in the shadow of the cranes. “
Socialist Review

“ A wonderfully life-affirming film-poem of place full of lost time and effacements, reefs of street-markets and shop fronts, painted in stock-brick yellows, steel shutter greys and silvery monochromes; and full of people, always people, the voices who have passed this way and called this home. As a collage of the city at its most quick, it has the ache and tug of what has been and gone; as a moving study of resourcefulness, resistance and resilience, it collapses time and returns each story to its street. “
Paul Farley, poet

“ For questionable reasons, in the media, the sight in a market of African textile prints and the sound of a Cockney voice selling tomatoes are separated. It’s untruthful. But the truth is there on Ridley Road Market and it is shot through the film too. And I loved it. This film is a rare thing. “
Lemn Sissay, poet

“ Under the Cranes is an argument to your emotions. Old grainy archive footage seems to invest even the most mundane scenes with a bitter-sweet glow. When these images are paired with sparse piano or traditional Turkish music – and beatboxing and Toumani Diabete – you’ve got a guaranteed tearjerker. But this film is not about nostalgia. The film finds beauty in trash-collecting, and places modern scenes next to old. “
Quietus Review

“ A film-poem that mixes documentary footage and poetry to explore the effect of urban redevelopment on local people. The film weaves together the history of one small part of London in a wonderfully impressionistic way. “
Socialist Worker

NEXT SCREENING Sunday 8 January 2012 at The Renoir Cinema 11am

The Renoir Cinema, Brunswick Square, London WC1

Nearest London tube: Russell Square
Overground: King’s Cross, Euston
Buses: 7, 17, 45, 46, 59, 68, 91, 168, 188
For updates on disabled access, please call the Renoir on 08717-033 991

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Under the Cranes at The Renoir Cinema

The London Socialist film Co-op are screening Under the Cranes with
Locked Out (Joan Sekler) to kick-off their 2012 Programme

Sunday 8 January 2012

10.30am for 11am start at the Renoir Cinema.

Joan Sekler, US 2010 [12A], 60 mins

The multinational, Rio Tinto group, historically known for draconian measures, attempted to severely cut the pay and conditions of 570 borax miners in the isolated, desert town of Boron, California, in 2010. Joan Sekler, independent filmmaker, crafts the course of the miners' action during the 107 days of a lock out. With solidarity at local and national level and the support of their community the miners agree to a new contract with the majority of their benefits intact.

Emma-Louise Williams, UK 2011 [12A], 56 mins

Director Emma-Louise Williams has collaborated with Hackney poet and resident Michael Rosen to produce a film-poem that explores the inter-connection between ourselves and where we live, based on his play Hackney Streets. The changing face of Hackney and its residents emerges through current images, urban sounds and rare historical footage, and Rosen's voice illuminates and questions the threats and the choices fostered by the dubious activities of Hackney Council and the regeneration of the area.

Discussion led by Emma-Louise Williams and Michael Rosen

Cinema information:
Renoir Cinema, Brunswick Square, London WC1

Nearest London tube: Russell Square
Overground: King’s Cross, Euston
Buses: 7, 17, 45, 46, 59, 68, 91, 168, 188
For updates on disabled access, please call the Renoir on 08717-033 991

About the LSFC

"Now in its twenty-first year, the London Socialist Film Co-op promotes socialist culture by arranging screenings where people can see films and take part in a panel discussion.

We show recent cinema releases and pictures that are rarely screened because they are old films, foreign films or were censored. We show films that inform and educate.

We encourage our members and like-minded filmmakers to make films and DVDs and we are always interested to hear of appropriate films - low budget shorts or campaign videos as well as fully funded professional programmes - that we might want to screen."

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

New Year 2012 Screening at The Renoir Cinema, London

Advance Notice

We are delighted to announce that
"Under the Cranes" will be showing
at The Renoir Cinema on Sunday 8th January
as part of the London Socialist Film Co-op's 2012 programme

Also showing "Locked Out"

With panel Michael Rosen, Emma-Louise Williams and Shane Enright (tbc)  


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Next screening, Rhyme and Reason Festival, Friday 7 October, 7pm

Rhyme and Reason poetry festival: Michael Rosen and Emma-Louise Williams present Under the Cranes

7 October 2011

Time: 7pm - 8.30pm
Location: Dulwich library, 368 Lordship Lane, SE22 8NB
Cost: Free
Come along to a screening of 'Under the Cranes' a new documentary inspired by the work of celebrated poet Michael Rosen.
Michael Rosen and filmmaker Emma-Louise Williams will be there in person to present the film and to take part in a Q&A session afterwards.
The event is free and there is no need to book in advance.


There is wheelchair access to the library including a lift to the study information area and hall on the first floor. There is a disabled access toilet. There is no dedicated parking.


Train: East Dulwich
Bus: 12, 40, 176, 185, 197


Mike Allport
Tel: 020 7525 1570

Bookmark this page

Share this page

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


Hackney Film Festival 2011 announce their four day festival programme.
Hackney Film Festival 2011 Programme

It's what we've all been waiting for...the unveiling of the Hackney Film Festival programme for 2011. And what a programme we've cooked up for you this year! Taking place over 4 days, 15-18th September, the festivities include film screenings, audio/visual events and fun time soirées at some of Hackney's coolest, most iconic venues.

Please take a moment to scroll down and see what lies in store for you.

Check out our website for the full film programme:

HFF 2011 Opening Night image

Thurs, 15th Sept


Platform @ Netil House
1 Westgate Street, E8 3RL

A sneak peek into what HFF 2011 has to offer for the following 3 day festivities. A free social event for the festival contributors, industry types and film fans featuring live A/V performances. Co-curated by local events organisers THE GRAVY.

Cornelia (Camp Mozart)
Jamie Blanco (Russell Club)
Shorts Programme image

Sat, 17th Sept


Rio Cinema
103-107 Kingsland Rd, E8 2PB
£5 / £4 Conc

An afternoon of some of the best short films Hackney has to offer as selected from our 2011 submission call out. Featuring a lively and varied showcase of shorts spanning all genres including narrative, animation, music videos and experimental.

Programme 1 @ 1:30pm

Programme 2 @ 3:45pm

Closing Night image
HFF Experimental Night image

Fri, 16th Sept


Cafe OTO
18 - 22 Ashwin St, E8 3DL
£8 Adv / £10 Door
Click here to purchase tickets

A collaborative sound and moving image experimental night at Cafe OTO, co-curated by LUX Moving Image. Six up-and-coming visual and sound artists have teamed up to perform live together for the first time. Each duo will premiere brand new works created exclusively for this night. Doors 8pm.

Heather Phillipson & Matt Hammond
Lucy Parker & Tom White
Jenna Collins & Mark Peter Wright 
Live Cinema Evening image

Sat, 17th Sept


Arcola Tent
2 Ashwin St, E8 3DL
£10 from Arcola Box Office
Click here to purchase tickets.

HFF takes over the Arcola Tent, an exciting new pop-up venue, for a very special night of live cinema featuring performances from some of Hackney's most innovative visual and sound artists. Doors 7:30pm.

performing LATITUDE
performing /\/\/\

Sun, 18th Sept


Dalston Roof Park / Bootstrap
18 Ashwin St, E8 3DL
£5 On door

Bring a blanket, get comfy and settle in for an evening of film and music to bring the festival to a close. This outdoor screening will feature the fittingly titled '
Under The Cranes', a film shot in and inspired by our beloved Hackney as well as a selection of shorts, a live A/V performance by HEAVY/LIGHT and local food by Pogo Cafe.

Starts at 7pm.
Copyright © 2011 Hackney Film Festival, All rights reserved.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Personal tales of inner city "redevelopment"

posted: 6.18pm Tue 17 May 2011

Under the Cranes: Personal tales of inner city 'redevelopment'

Under the Cranes is a new film that mixes documentary footage and poetry to explore the effect of urban redevelopment on local people, writes Mary Brodbin
Under the Cranes is a film-poem exploring how we experience “place”—how where we end up living has an impact on us, and how we have an impact on it.
Its script is based on a play by poet Michael Rosen called Hackney Voices. Rosen lives in Hackney, east London, where the film was shot.
It has a intriguing cast of characters, all with a Hackney connection.
They include William Shakespeare, Black Beauty author Anna Sewell and poet Anna Barbauld. There is also a Jamaican builder, a Bangladeshi restaurant owner, a Turkish barber and the Jewish 43 Group that took on the fascist Oswald Mosley after the Second World War.
The film mixes documentary and drama, and asks the audience to participate. We shouldn’t watch passively, but should engage with the questions—why are these buildings built or knocked down and not others? How do we live in the city?
Director Emma-Louise Williams has dug up some rare and fascinating archive footage which is interspersed throughout. It ranges from shots of the unbelievably decaying slums of the 1920s, to footage from the 1950s showing the replacement yellow-brick council maisonettes.
Turbaned women stand in doorways and hang out of windows on the new estates as they watch their children—dressed almost like mini adults except for the bows in the girls’ hair.
Rosen wants us to interrogate the word “regeneration”. He asks the question how many lies are told in the name of regeneration?
He goes through the shenanigans that Hackney council were involved in during the building of the new overground railway, reopened in 2010, as an example.
Hussain ran a tandoori restaurant in the heart of Hackney.
He recounts how for years he negotiated with the council about buying it.
Eventually they told him to go along to a property auction to get it. He went, only to see it bought by an offshore property developer as part of a massive job lot which the council had organised.
The site is now part of the massive Dalston Square flats being developed by Barretts.
Over shots of these flats (the cheapest is a quarter of a million pounds), Rosen recites an ode to the speculators over the images:
"They dream of childless towers
Of one-bed, two-bed apartments
No need for swings or slides
No need for the visiting nurse
They dream of weekday workers
Heading home at weekends
They dream of childless towers."
Some of the most riveting and ­moving footage is an anti-fascist demo heavily surrounded by police in Ridley Road market. On the other side of the road Oswald Mosley and his fascists hold a rally with the slogan “Britain for the British”.
A voiceover tells the personal tale of how the fascists cornered a small group of Jewish people and beat them unconscious. But in 1945 Jewish ex‑servicemen organised the 43 Group which managed to break up 15 outdoor fascist meetings.
Ridley Road market is shown through the years. Butchers’ stalls of the 1950s have price tickets showing that the meat originated from Aberdeen, Argentina—and Empire!
Modern footage shows the market at night. The camera tracks down the whole road and the different cries of street traders ring in our ears.
The film weaves together the ­history of one small part of London in a wonderfully impressionistic way.
It features some really beautiful paintings. Particularly magical is Tower with Gardens by James Mackinnon. One minute you see the actual tower block on film, then it dissolves into a dreamlike painting of the same block.
There are wide sweeping aerial shots—row upon row of Victorian stock houses surrounded by trees—and then those gigantic cranes hovering on the skyline waiting to pounce.
But in the end the film is optimistic, because it is filled with the raised voices of Hackney people.
Despite David Cameron’s declarations, this multicultural area has a lot to say through its resourcefulness and resilience.


Tuesday July 19th   HACKNEY SOCIETY at Hackney Museum, London E8  6.15 pm 

 Sunday September 25th   APPLEDORE BOOK FESTIVAL, North Devon  11.30 am 

Thursday, 30 June 2011


Under The Cranes: Urban 'Regeneration' In The East End On Film 

David Moats , May 6th, 2011 09:00

David Moats discusses selections from last week's East End Film Festival dealing with housing and urban regeneration.
At this year's always excellent East End Film Festival, the hot button issues of gentrification, local communities and housing, while not an explicit strand, found its way into several of the locally produced and focused films. "Urban Regeneration" cast a long shadow over the proceedings like, well, a giant high-rise apartment block over a local community market. With the Olympics looming, East London Line recently completed and Dalston Square Tower recently open for business, it's natural to talk about how the built environment is impacting this rapidly changing area of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Here's a few of the provocative films the Quietus checked out:
Surprisingly for a local film festival, the screening of Under the Cranes at the historic Rio Cinema was packed full of film fans, local residents and randoms coaxed in off the street by local writer Michael Rosen – whose play the film is based on. Rosen's disembodied voices talk both frankly and poetically, through a thick east end drawl, about Hackney while archive footage and gently wandering tracking shots paint the scene, much like Patrick Keiller's London, an obvious reference point. This is mixed with more classic documentary history including striking images and stories of the Mosely race riot.
Under the Cranes is perhaps the wrong title. Those expecting a cogent, detailed argument about urban regeneration and the fate of inner city neighbourhoods may be disappointed. Although specific reference is made to the Dalston Square development ("Childless Towers" which werepushed through planning despite local residents protests) urbanism is not the focus here. Under the Cranes sits much better with the recent explosion of work, such as Ian Sinclair's book Hackney, That Rose Red Empire, last year's London Preambulator and The Four Aces, which document and in various ways lament the demise of the East End Borough. But in this context, it is certainly one of the stronger entries because it gives a sense of Hackney's resilience and latent potential instead of another pre-emptive obituary.
The film wants to demonstrate that, following a quote from Jane Jacobs, "...lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration." But while Jacobs, in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities appeals to your common sense, Under the Cranes is an argument to your emotions. Old grainy super 8 footage seems to invest even the most mundane scenes with a bitter-sweet glow (though the ubiquitous hipstamatic filter is starting to cheapen this effect). When these images are paired with sparse piano or classical guitar (and beatboxing and Toumani Diabate) you've got a guaranteed tearjerker.
But as the director contends, this film is not about nostalgia. The film finds beauty in trash collecting, and places modern scenes next to old. There is no contrast between a working-class past shown through rose-tinted glasses and a gentrified present shown through hip Raybans. There is continuity: there were problems before and different problems now.
On the Sunday, after an engaging documentary short about a successful squatter community turned housing cooperative, Bonnington Square, we were treated to a film very much at the other end of the spectrum from Cranes14th Floor is a detached, painstakingly historical account of council housing in the neighbouring borough of Tower Hamlets.
The film feels a bit haphazardly put together at times: we see high quality shots of the estates, replete with artistically timed birds flying past the camera, which do their very best to make some very dour buildings look magestic; but then there are awkwardly edited interviews filmed on a shakey camcorder and some sub-powerpoint graphics. But technique is not the point, of course:14th Floor is a historical document telling an untold history and, along the way, reminding us of a time when the duty of the state to provide housing options for its workers was not really in question. Many of the talking heads, who work in the social housing industry, actually grew up in council flats and want to give back in some way.
But while 14th Floor is an interesting watch if you have any association with East London, it's clearly quite difficult to make a film about housing 'riviting'. This is also why you don't get films telling structural, David Harvey-type accounts of the spatial accumulation of capital. But it is precisely the labyrinthine nature of planning, law and urban economics which prevents outraged local communities, however well organised, from fighting against the developers. No one can grasp the big picture. (One of the very best, and most entertaining expose's of urban development is Emily Jame's Battle for Broadway Market which you can watch here.)
On the EEFF's Movie May Day, the good people at the London Short Film Festival screened a selection of shorts - one of which, called Robin Hood Gardens [or every brutalist structure for itself] made some efforts to bridge the emotional with the intellectual. The film concerns the famous housing block by Alison and Peter Smithson, a utopian vision for working class housing which is today a council estate in disrepair. The council wants to sell the land to build middle class apartments, but this time it's the architectural community that is up in arms – looking to preserve what they see as a historically important 'brutalist' masterpiece.
The film features well composed, panoramic shots of the building and entertaining interviews with players on all sides the debate. We see a security guard wrestling with a defiant elevator, a painter describing the building, an exasperated MP and an architectural historian. In this context it is disquieting to hear the historian make statements about grand sweeps of the facade or contrasting textures when the fate of hundreds of residents, mostly Bangali families, is at stake – either living with sub-par housing or being relocated. It's almost like the reverse of that scene in theFountainhead when Ayn Rand's architectural hero, played by Gary Cooper in the film, decides to blow up three perfectly habitable tower blocks when they are not realized to his exacting aesthetic standards. Robin Hood Gardens, humorous and winking in its portrayal of the crisis very appropriately ends with several solemn residents at home. Other then a very sleepy community meeting, they don't say very much because their voices don't particular register above all the din.
While we've yet to see the film that makes a definitive statement on the rapidly changing East End, the problem of how to regenerate an area without pricing out the original residents is still unresolved by academics, planners and economists. But all these films, in different ways, contribute to an awareness of the issues involved. Giving the East End a sense of history and place which can't so easily be paved over.


Sunday July 3rd    MARXISM 2011central London, 9.00 pm

Saturday July 9th  LEDBURY POETRY FESTIVALHerefordshire

Sunday July 17th  FLOATING CINEMA, SHOREDITCH FESTIVAL, 6pm & 7 pm. Q & A 
Waterhouse Restaurant,  Regent's Canal,  Orsman Road,  N1 5QJ

Tuesday July 19th   HACKNEY SOCIETY at Hackney Museum, London E8  6.15 pm 

 Sunday September 25th   APPLEDORE BOOK FESTIVAL, North Devon  11.30 am 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sight and Sound: East London on Film

East London on film

Under the Cranes
Under the Cranes

East End Film Festival

London, UK
May 2011
Sender: Frances Morgan

Myth-making seems built into the bricks and concrete of London’s East End, and the unruly, mysterious districts clustering on the edge of the City’s centre of power have inspired filmmakers as much as they have novelists, artists and musicians. East London informs David Lean’s classic adaptation of Oliver Twist; gangland thrillers like The Krays and Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises; and diverse tales of daily life from cult kitchen-sink drama Bronco Bullfrog to the 2007 adaptation of Monica Ali’sBrick Lane.
The East London Film Festival is as sprawling as the areas it represents, and its programming is far from parochial, with a focus on Romanian cinema in the European category this year. Where the East End itself is celebrated on film this week, it is as a space for hedonism and music, typified by the opening night gala premiere of The Libertines – There Are No Innocent Bystanders, a documentary about the erstwhile indie band; and as a space to live, with a focus on housing and community in numerous short films and some standout documentaries.
With a preponderance of social housing, regeneration projects constantly on the go and rapid gentrification, it’s not surprising that housing is a preoccupation for residents of Hackney and Tower Hamlets; why social housing in particular is fascinating to filmmakers right now is less clear. The housing estate is perhaps a formally neat structure for telling the story of an area’s overlooked residents; the ideals of early housing developers (explored in Shane Davey’s 14th Floor, which makes great use of local archive footage) seem particularly resonant in 2011; and some of the buildings, like Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower in Poplar, are wonderfully photogenic, as are images of construction and destruction. Housing also informs Phil Maxwell and Hazuan Hashim’s East End Lives 3, made in collaboration with housing association East End Homes, although here the focus is less on infrastructure and more on individual testimony.
East End Lives 3
East End Lives 3
Maxwell, a photojournalist who has chronicled east London for decades, avoids the pitfalls of nostalgia that less experienced filmmakers, enamoured of legends of working-class communities and Blitz spirit, are prone to. His portrait of two ex-members of a capella girl band The Mint Juleps and a teenage artist living in the shadow of Canary Wharf celebrates east London’s diversity without patronising, and gently explores memory, change and relationships using the framework of the home. Maxwell’s black-and-white street photography, exhibited in Spitalfield’s Market, has a similarly vital, humane presence, at odds with the brashly revamped market itself.
Emma-Louise Williams’ Under the Cranes (pictured at top), which premiered to a capacity audience at Dalston’s Rio Cinema, featured the work of another long-time resident, Michael Rosen, whose documentary play Hackney Voices steered this engaging, gentle, slightly dreamlike documentary. Somewhat inspired by Patrick Keiller’s Robinson films, Williams’ Hackney is a layered, shifting place teeming with multiple voices and realities, echoed verbally by Rosen’s collage of reminiscence, characteristically generous poetry and collected urban folk songs.
Rosen’s presence reminds us of east London’s reputation as a place of political upheaval. In Under the Cranes this element is worn lightly, but significantly (the script includes an eyewitness account of 1930s fascist meetings, chillingly from the point of view of a BUF member).