A wonderfully life-affirming film-poem about Hackney, its people, its streets and its history.
Blending drama and documentary styles, Under the Cranes is a beautifully conceived meditation on the multicultural of history Hackney and the changes that continue to shape this part of East London. Director Emma-Louise Williams seeks to counter the prevailing perception of the inner city as a site of failure, ugliness and misdeed through a socio-poetics of everyday life. Breaking with the linear narrative convention, the audience is invited to apprehend the city as a sequence of interwoven vignettes: 'past in the present; present in the past.'
A script derived from poet Michael Rosen's documentary play, Hackney Streets, is layered with graceful location shots and rare archive footage. The film's soundscape mixes poetry, music, folksong and location recordings, while the picture juxtaposes slow panning shots with paintings by East London artists, Leon Kossoff, Jock McFadyen and James MacKinnon. We hear from the famous (Shakespeare in Shoreditch; 'Black Beauty' author, Anna Sewell; and poet Anna Barbauld) alongside a Jamaican builder, a Bangladeshi restaurant owner and the Jewish 43 Group taking on Oswald Mosley in Dalston. Blending past and present, the film offers a lyrical, painterly defence of the everyday, while raising questions about the process of regeneration and the meaning we find in the places we call home.
Directors: Emma-Louise Williams
Producers: Michael Rosen
Editing: Hoping Chen
Sound: Linda Brenon
Production Company: Xylonite
UK Classification: 12A
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 56 min
Keywords: Anna Sewell, Architecture, city, Community, Dalston, docu-drama, east london, film-poem, gentrification, hackney, London, poetry, Politics, regeneration, Shakespeare, society, streets