Upcoming screening event: Bordering Strangeness

21 Mar


Our upcoming film screening event looks at the ways in which the manifestation of borders and the construction of the ‘stranger’ are intimately linked. Both physical and virtual boundaries, often of a dynamic nature, continue to rise, drawing lines between belonging and unbelonging, between secure and unsecure. The complex effects of contemporary borders are looked at through the lens of two films. The thrilling Children of Men (2006) by film director Alfonso Cuarón, set in 2027, tells the story of an authoritarian Britain constructing borders to tighten security in attempt to fight the threatening extinction of the human race and to respond to rising fears of ‘strangers’.

The second screening of the award-winning short film As he Lay Falling (2014) follows a Greek migrant on his challenging journey to build his own future in the Scottish Highland.

Following the two films, the director and screen writer of the featured short, Ian Waugh, will join a multidisciplinary panel with Agnes Woolley (lecturer in Contemporary Literature, Department of English, Royal Holloway) and Elizabeth Alexander (PhD researcher in Political Geography and Nationalism, Royal Holloway). The discussion will consider how film speaks to the connections between borders and strangers, and how film itself can traverse borders or even create strangeness itself.

This is a free event – no registration needed – taking place at 7PM on the 2nd of April at Jetlag Bar, 125 Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, W1t 6QB (see map).

Hoping to see you all there!

Creating Hackney as Home

17 Mar
The Creating Hackney as Home audience (Photo: Ella Harris).

The Creating Hackney as Home audience (Photo: Ella Harris).

London is a city of constant change. At the moment, you would be hard pushed to find a run-down or poor area that isn’t going through a process of rapid gentrification and development, and Dalston in Hackney is no exception.  There are constant debates in the media and online about this process, but how young people feel about these changes are often overlooked. The Creating Hackney as Home, a youth-led visual research project into home and belonging at the Open University, aimed to rectify that. 5 young people from Dalston were given training in research methods and film making, and each produced a short film about Dalston as their home as part of the project.

These films were shown at the Creating Hackney as Home event on the 5th of March at the Russet in Hackney, alongside Legacy in the Dust, a documentary by local film maker Winstan Whitter about the Four Aces, a club in Dalston that survived for half a century before being knocked down as part of Hackney’s transformation for the Olympics. Two of the Creating Hackney as Home film makers and Winstan Whitter were there to discuss their films with a large and varied audience, including representatives from Hackney council.

Two of the Creating Hackney as Home film makers with Luke Dickens, one of the organisers of the project (Photo: Ella Harris).

Two of the Creating Hackney as Home film makers with Luke Dickens, one of the organisers of the project (Photo: Ella Harris).

The Creating Hackney as Home films were fantastic. Each one took a different approach to thinking about Dalston as the place where they grew up, ranging from fashion to basketball. The films, and the discussion afterwards, were eloquent, intelligent and thought-provoking. One of the main points to come out of the discussion is that young people have plenty of opinions and things to say, they just need the opportunity to have their voice heard and the films proved it.

Legacy in the Dust is also a wonderful film. Winstan Whitter has made a nostalgic tribute to a club that he has known since childhood. The Four Aces Club was such a big part of the London music scene that its story is also the story of black music in Britain. It complemented the Creating Hackney as Home films well, speaking to the themes of belonging, home, and transformation.

Winstan Whitter answers questions about his documentary 'Legacy in the Dust' (Photo: Ella Harris).

Winstan Whitter answers questions about his documentary ‘Legacy in the Dust’ (Photo: Ella Harris).

It’s not often that Passengerfilms takes a trip out of central London, but the Creating Hackney as Home event was well worth it. It was an evening that proved the importance of self-reflection for communities that are changing rapidly, and demonstrated the dynamism and creativity of London’s young people, a resource that we would be foolish to waste.

Thursday 5th March: Creating Hackney as Home

25 Feb


Please join us for our next exciting Passengerfilms screening on the 5th of March, organised in collaboration with OpenSpace Research Centre at the Open University!

The peer researchers on the Creating Hackney as Home project spent the summer of 2013 creating five short films that capture their experiences of living in a rapidly changing London borough. From journeys through and across the city come explorations of the impact of gentrification and the history of style, as well as reflections on growing up and out of space and managing everyday cultural diversity. The screening will include a chance to hear from the research team about the production process.

This will be followed by a rare screening of Winstan Whitter’s provocative ‘Legacy in the Dust’ (2008), a film about the legendary Four Aces Club in Dalston prior to its demolition. Winstan will be joining us on the night to discuss his film and the motivations behind his long-term documentary work in Hackney.

This is a free event taking place on March the 5th (kick-off at 6.30pm) at The Russet in Hackney (London E8 2BT – click here for directions).Please write to jan.smith@open.ac.uk to register for your free ticket!

We are looking forward to seeing you all there!

The Art of Skating

25 Jan
The first Passengerfilms of 2015 had a great turnout (Photo: Thomas Dekeyser.)

The first Passengerfilms of 2015 had a great turnout (Photo: Thomas Dekeyser).

Tuesday night saw the launch of Passengerfilm’s 2015 programme in the Jetlag Bar, Fitzrovia. The title of the evening, curated by Dr. Oli Mould, was The Art of Skating. The evening began with a showing of Blue Line, a short film that follows skateboarders as they move through the urban landscape. The feature film was Beautiful Losers, a documentary about a group of American artists who became famous for their ‘do-it-yourself’ style of street art in the 1990s. A short film called Xerox and Destroy was also shown, about the Photocopy Club, an unconventional exhibition of skateboard photography. The discussion after the screenings was chaired by Dr. Harriet Hawkins (Royal Holloway, University of London), and featured Professor Iain Borden (Bartlett School, UCL), Marc Vallée, a documentary photographer, and Sabina Andron (Bartlett School, UCL).

The films shown focused around art and skateboarding (Photo: Thomas Dekeyser).

The films shown focused around art and skateboarding (Photo: Thomas Dekeyser).

The purpose of the evening was to think about how alternative creative subcultures such as skateboarding can be accepted by the mainstream, often because of rather than despite their subversive and anti-establishment nature. This is not a seamless process however, and tension and conflict can often be sparked by the perceived ‘institutionalisation’ or ‘selling out’ taking place. Much of the discussion revolved around this process. The artists in Beautiful Losers achieved mainstream commercial success, with one even doing the art for a Pepsi ad campaign. There was debate over whether selling your work makes it somehow less ‘authentic,’ and whether artists are ever non-commercial- surely they all hope to make a living out of their art?

There was also extensive discussion about the connections between skateboarding and graffiti. They are both subversive counter-cultures, but they have both also proved to be incredibly commercially successful, capable of generating large amounts of income. For example Vans, a well-known shoe brand made popular by skaters plans to have annual revenues of $2.2. Billion by 2016.  Marc Vallée made the point that skateboarding is part of a range of creativities that all feed off of each other, and Iain Borden traced the connection back to the Zoo York crew in the mid-1970s.

The discussion was lively and thoughtful (Photo: Thomas Dekeyser).

The discussion was lively and thoughtful (Photo: Thomas Dekeyser).

Skateboarding and street art are two of the things that make the urban feel edgy, unconventional, and just the right amount of dangerous. As such, they can be very popular, but the debate about the impacts of the transition to the mainstream rages on. Undoubtedly there is no easy answer, but we at Passengerfilms had a fantastic time discussing it with an engaged and enthusiastic audience. Thank you to everyone who came along and took part.

Tuesday 20th January: The Art of Skating

10 Jan



Please join us for the start of the new Passenger Films 2015 schedule. We start off with an evening of film and discussion featuring the acclaimed documentary, Beautiful Losers (2008) and other short skateboarding films.

Drawing on the subversive and anti-establishment ethos of skateboarding, the film speaks to the ways in which alternative creative subcultures can become mainstream art; but also the conflicts, tensions and issues that can arise because of the perceived ‘institutionalisation’.

There will be a post-screening discussion involving Prof. Iain Borden (Bartlett School, UCL), author of ‘Skateboarding in the City’, Marc Valée, a documentary photographer whose work explores the tension between public and private space in the context of contemporary youth culture, Sabina Andron (Bartlett School, UCL) a photographer and street art researcher and Dr. Harriet Hawkins (Geography Department, Royal Holloway), author of ‘For Creative Geographies’. The panellists will use the film(s) as a starting point to discuss the broader issues of subversive creativity and its role in challenging, subverting or indeed formulating more mainstream views of art.

The event kicks off at 7pm, Tuesday 20th of January, Jetlag Bar, 125 Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, W1t 6QB (see map). Tickets are available for £5.00 on the door.

PASSENGERFILMS News – Autumn 2014

13 Oct

Award Detail

Hello friends! It’s all been a bit quiet here over the summer as we regroup, but just a few exciting bits of news as we head into the Autumn…

1. We’re thrilled to say that we earned a distinction at Cinema For All’s Film Society of the Year Awards this year in the “Best Film Education Programme” category. Congrats to all the winners, and thanks again to Cinema For All for recognising and promoting the fantastic work being done by film societies all across the country.

2. If you’re looking for good cultural geography-relevant film screenings…our friends in the music department at Royal Holloway have organised a free screening of ‘An Inconsolable Memory’, a beautiful and evocative meditation on (cultural) memory which speaks to themes including ethnography, the archive, race, identity, the politics of place and land distribution, and displacement. The screening is on Thursday the 23rd October at the Screening Room, Somerset House, and again on 23rd November if you can’t make the October date, this time at the Lexi Cinema, Kensal Rise – both events free, but booking essential – click here for more details and to book for October, and here for more details and to book for November.

Tuesday 27th May (new date!): THROUGH THE LENS – sights and sites of war

22 Apr

Diry Wars RESCHEDUELD2 copy

**PLEASE NOTE: this event was originally planned for Tuesday 6 May. Due to a planned tube strike on that date we have RESCHEDULED for Tuesday 27 May so that it’s easier to attend!**

Join us on Tuesday the 27th of May at 6pm for a FREE evening of film and discussion presented in conjunction with students and staff from the MSc in Geopolitics and Security at Royal Holloway, University of London, featuring a screening of the award-winning documentary Dirty Wars (2013, 87 mins) – winner of the Sundance award for cinematography in 2013.

In and through film, war is observed, interpreted and constructed to invoke a visceral audience response. Dirty Wars and several contrasting short films will provide an avenue to deconstructing how the lenses of the journalist’s eye, the film editor’s art, and the film’s representation of place combine to provoke that response.

The film will be contextualized with talks and clips of short films, and a post-screening discussion will be chaired by Dr. Alasdair Pinkerton from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Dr. Pinkerton will be joined by director and editor Ben Campbell and journalist and documentary filmmaker Sean Langan as we attempt to situate war from both sides of the lens.

About the panelists:

Alasdair PinkertonModerator: Dr. Alasdair Pinkerton, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography (RHUL)

Dr. Alasdair Pinkerton is a Lecturer in political geography and geopolitics, with particular interests in issues related to critical geopolitics, the media, and the ‘international relations’ of public diplomacy. He has regional specialisms in the South Atlantic (Falkland Islands, Argentina and Chile) and South Asia (India, Pakistan and Afghanistan), as well as working extensively in the US, Canada and the UK. Recent papers can be found in Political Geography, the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Twentieth Century British History, the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, and Progress in Human Geography. His first book, “Radio”, will be published by Reaktion (and the Science Museum) in 2014. In 2013, Dr. Pinkerton served as an accredited observer of the Falkland Islands referendum. He appears frequently in the UK and international media on issues related to global geopolitics, including the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and the UK’s Overseas Territories.

Ben CampbellPanelist: Ben Campbell, Director and Editor, Rampage Studio

Ben brings a TV & film editor and director’s voice and eye to the mix. He is a TV geek – because he’s passionate about making it. He’s pretty good at it too. The first half of Ben’s (almost) 20-year career was darkened rooms in Soho editing the likes of Stressed Eric for the BBC, Peppa Pig for Channel 5 and Charlie and Lola for Tiger Aspect. Ben emerged from the edit suite and naturally found himself in the director’s chair, taking the lead on Lyndey and Blair’s Taste of Greece for SBS ONE Australia, James and Thom’s Pizza Pilgrimage for Food Network and Roller Derby Till I Die for Extreme Sports Channel.

Sean LanganPanelist: Sean LanganJournalist and Filmmaker

Sean Langan is a British journalist and documentary filmmaker who works in dangerous and volatile situations; environments noted for war, conflict and civil unrest, from Latin America to Iraq to Zimbabwe, and most recently from Afghanistan where he made the award winning films ‘Fighting the Taliban’ and ‘Meeting the Taliban’ in 2007. In March 2008, whilst working on a film for Channel 4, Sean Langan was kidnapped in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, by a group associated with the Taliban after trying to make contact with Al-Qaeda’s second in command. He was freed three months later (21st June 2008) after his family had negotiated his release.

It all kicks off at 6pm, Tuesday 27th May, Jetlag Bar, 125 Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, W1t 6QB (see map). Entry is free! BUT registration is required – click here to secure your place. Drinks and snacks will be available to purchase at the bar.


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