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.
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.
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.