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Cities in Flux

An exploration of culture, markets and film piracy in east London bringing together QMUL staff, artists, community groups and local youth to create a research-based film documentary.
Cities in Flux
  • School/Institute/Department: School of Languages, Linguistics and Film
  • Subjects: Film, Human Geography, Sociology, Business
  • Audience: Community Groups, Filmmakers, Youth, General Public

'Cities in Flux' explored the concept of research-based documentary filmmaking to explore the relations between weekly markets, gentrification, film piracy and nostalgia in East London, focusing on Roman Road Market (Bow North) and making comparisons with bazaars in deprived areas of Mumbai. 

The project effectively piloted the concept of research-based documentary filmmaking, involving young people from the local area through relations with local charity Hi8tus. The documentary work enacted a process of establishing relations, between young filmmakers, groups of media professionals and academics, rather than a single-output production. Equally, the transfer of knowledge was not unidirectional but exchanged in multiple directions around the themes of creativity, repurposing media, copyright and micro-market economies

The project initially involved discussions between Derek Richards of Hi8tus, Ranjit Kandalgaonkar and Queen Mary academics to map out the nature of the project and discuss how to engage young people with the project. The project group then meet met with young people trained by Hi8tus in community media production, to discuss their uses of media, creative practice and their responses to the local environment.

The involvement of the resident artist Kandalgaonkar allowed the project to then consider the theme of markets as a focal point for the creative use of media, and conversely thinking through the exchange of media as ‘bazaar’ practices. In a series of walks, the group researched the relations between weekly markets, gentrification, film piracy and nostalgia in East London and making comparisons with bazaars in deprived areas of Mumbai in Kandalgaonkar’s work. Evident in both cities is the passion of collecting film and film-related memorabilia relating to Bollywood.

Film-based research diaries were then brought together and transformed into a short film, with the group working effectively as a team to edit their various types of footage into a single documentary film based on research at three east end markets.

The end product was then screened in an event at Cine East, East End Film Festival’s (EEFF) opening weekend of free events and included a panel discussion by media professionals, academics, a creative commons representative and the filmmakers themselves, including representatives from QMUL and Hi8tus. This was followed by a networking event attracting further numbers of predominantly young people (full event programme here).

The success of the event has ensured a continuing relationship between Queen Mary scholars, the EEFF, London-based media professionals and young people from local communities, as well as other media based community groups. 

Further successful grant bids built on the success of the initial activity have led to a new international network project that was submitted as an impact case study in the REF2014. The project, named ‘Bazaar Cinema: Re-purposing Media and debating cultural rights of Youth Communities in London and Mumbai’, seeks to create an inter-cultural dialogue on unofficial forms of media production.  

This project was funded by a Large Award from the Centre for Public Engagement. All Large Award projects were asked to produce a poster, giving more details about the project and sharing learning gained from it. You can see the poster for Peopling the Palace here [PDF].

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