As part of our on-going Silwood Archive project, Spectacle has been hosting weekly meetings of the Silwood Video Group (SVG). Often as SVG watches archive footage together themes emerge. In the past month these have included: youth clubs, community centres, fly-tipping, and the lack of a community centre, youth facilities, green space and communal areas on the estate.
The group wanted to film some locations to accompany the themes that had been coming up in the meetings. Spectacle visited the Silwood estate on Monday the 29th of December and filmed locations and activities including ongoing construction, fly-tipping, the location where the youth club bus arrives, the new community garden, and general location shots around the streets of the estate.
This footage will be added to the archive as part of the ongoing documentation of the Silwood estate for the past 20 years during the regeneration of the area.
All are welcome to join our Silwood Video Group – watch original archive – help select material for publishing-get involved in filming.
Spectacle is launching a new library of films on Vimeo on demand. This will allow viewers to rent all of our films relating to Guantanamo Bay and people’s advocacy work for those imprisoned there without trial. The collection includes the films Outside the Law: Stories From Guantanamo and Shaker Aamer: A Decade Of Injustice as well as short films on the various groups campaigning for Shaker’s release and never before seen interviews with politicians and campaigners including John MacDonald and Sadiq Khan. The library will be free to access for one month starting on the 6th of December to mark Human Rights Day (10th Dec).
After 20 years of protracted conflict and attempted nation building in Afghanistan, the Taliban are back in the seat of government. Politicians in the UK and America are scrambling to justify these 20 years: the lives lost and billions spent. In the midst of these speeches on noble intentions it is important to look back at the war on terror and remember the basis on which this war was waged.
It was a moment when the USA and its allies in NATO decided that human rights and habeas corpus were not in fact universal principles and did not apply to anyone deemed an “enemy combatant”. Moazzam Begg (a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay) summed up this thinking in a Q&A after a screening of Stories from Guantanamo with the George Orwell Quote: “we are all equal but some are more equal than others”. Everything was justifiable in the name of stamping out global terrorism. Innocent men from around the world were sent, not just to Guantanamo, but also Bagram prison in Afghanistan and other “black site” secret prisons, to be tortured and interrogated.
Spectacle has documented the story of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Centre and the wider context of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons that were central to Bush and Blair’s War On Terror in two separate films, available together here for the first time along with extras and archive materials.
Outside the Law:
Stories From Guantanamo and Shaker Aamer: A Decade of Injustice
Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” provides a
powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the
worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of
war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas
corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.
The film is based around interviews with former prisoners including
Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes in his first major onscreen interview. The film
also contains interviews with lawyers for the prisoners, journalist and author
Andy Worthington, Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, a London-based
Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.
“Outside the Law is a powerful film that has helped ensure that Guantánamo and the men unlawfully held there have not been forgotten”.
Kate Allen , director Amnesty International UK
Shaker Aamer: A
Decade of Injustice
This film was made to mark the 10th anniversary of Shaker
Aamer’s detention in Guantanamo Bay.
Shaker Aamer was one of the 171 men still held in detention
in Guantanamo Bay on the camp’s 10th anniversary. Despite never having had a
trial, having been approved for release twice, and there being a large campaign
supporting him, Shaker remained in detention until 2015.
During the 13+ years that Shaker Aamer was incarcerated in
Guantanamo Bay, he was never charged, and he has never denied his innocence. He
has continuously lobbied for the welfare of other Guantanamo inmates from
within the system. Many believe that this, and his potential as a witness to
U.S. human rights abuses, are the reasons he remained captive for so long.
Shaker Aamer was finally released from prison on 30th October 2015.
Our video library, containing all material produced by Spectacle on and with the Exodus collective, will be free to access from 10th December – 10th January. This includes both Spectacle produced TV documentaries: Exodus: Movement of Jah People and Exodus From Babylon along with extras and bonus material including an anti crack song and music video made by members of the collective with Spectacle and an appearance on Swiss youth culture TV show ZEBRA.
We are delighted to announce that Spectacle CIC has received funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to restart the Silwood Video Group with an archive-based film project.
Since 2001 Spectacle has worked with the Silwood Community in Lewisham and Southwark setting up the Silwood Video Group. Spectacle has run over the years hundreds of video workshops documenting daily life and changes created by regeneration. The collaboration has resulted in many short films published in DVDs, added to a few web episodes in the Channel 4 series Unteachables, an ICA exhibition, as well as further exhibitions at the Musee du Beaux Arts in Brussels.
The National Lottery grant allows members of the Silwood community to gather together around the video documentation that has been produced during the regeneration of the estate, aiming to revitalize the Silwood Video Group and equip the community to make use of video archive and video tools to reflect on their own history and future. Spectacle is running a series of online workshops, watching back and commenting together on what were the issues documented by the Silwood Video Group in the early 2000s. The project culminates in a workshop on the Silwood estate to collect oral histories and reflect on how to use the video archive to support the local community.
The Lottery funding has allowed us to re-start the Silwood Video Group, initially in an online setting through an archive-based film project.
Putting the Silwood Archive online has been an aim for many years. Spectacle has been uploading archive selections for the community to watch and discuss online. If you want to watch the available archive, sign up HERE.
Meeting every Thursday at 7, the SVG group watches selections from the archive and discusses the material, drawing out themes and topics of interest. If you would like to join this meeting, please sign up and we will send you the Zoom link. This is leading up to meeting in person with up to 12 participants to record oral histories in the community and add new perspectives on the archive.
Our Archive-based video project aims to bring together a variety of different groups and generations of the Silwood Community to review and add new oral histories to the Silwood Video Archive. We hope participants will build community bridges, connect to the past, engage in creative practice, and learn filmmaking skills.
We are very excited to be providing a space where isolated members of the Silwood Community can come together in a fun and educational environment to talk about history and film.
Archive-based Participatory Film Projects
Spectacle CIC is very excited about the tool of archive-based film projects. We see that they have the power to reduce loneliness by bringing people together, creating connection through shared creativity and learning, and anchoring residents within their own history.
These workshops foreground the wisdom of an older generation that is too often sidelined and isolated, while also sparking the joy in technology of younger generations. They offer an outlet for art and creativity in connection with others, as well as skills for future employment. It enable older community members to pass on knowledge to younger members or newcomers, and offer practical tech literacy and filming skills to participants.
Silwood Video Group and the Future
For 20 years, the Silwood Video group has built relationships across generations, ethnicities, and cultures through filmmaking. This extraordinary and unique group has been open to anyone in the community and in that time has benefitted approximately 200 people aged 6-70 constituting an unusually diverse range of people in terms of race and religious background.
Spectacle’s relationship with the Silwood community stretches back 20 years. Spectacle created the Silwood Video Group because the community wanted to have a voice in the proposed regeneration plans for their community. Placing the tools of filmmaking in the hands of the community empowered people to actively shape the future of their community through media activism.
The idea for this archive project is based on the community’s desire to reconnect with the places that existed before the regeneration. Many are getting older, and they want to share their stories with their grandchildren. They also see it as a good opportunity to build connections with newcomers to the community who don’t know about it’s history.
For 40 years, Spectacle has pioneered community led video projects and collaborative filmmaking, aiming to give groups and communities the tools and the skills to document what matters through collaborative video projects. Spectacle has led, co-led, and facilitated participatory film groups and workshops of all shapes and sizes.
Over the last year Spectacle has successfully developed ways to facilitate participatory video workshops remotely, working with researchers from UCL, Oxford, and LSE, and community groups ranging from Colombia to London to Malawi.
This remote Participatory Video project, called Reinventada, was based in Medellin, Colombia. The research project was funded by the London School of Economics (LSE) Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund (KEI). Through weekly workshops, displaced and migrant women learned the skills of filming and editing and documented their lives as mothers and heads of household, living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Medellin, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The film that came from this research premiered in October 2021 at The International Documentary Film Festival of Bogotá.
OVERDUE – University College London, UCL
Spectacle is running a series of training workshops for researchers at UCL working on the OVERDUE project, which is tackling sanitation inequality in three fast-growing African cities: Beira (Mozambique), Freetown (Sierra Leone), and Mwanza (Tanzania).
Our training in participatory video method offers an excellent resource for disrupting dominant narratives and cliches, or for understanding the impact of a project such as OVERDUE, by asking the beneficiaries to document the impact in their daily lives.
GemDev – University College London, UCL
Tracing the story of where we get our energy is one very important way to understand a society. For researchers from UCL’s Grounded Energy Modelling for equitable urban development in the global South (GEMDev) project – tracing community’s energy use using oral histories and visual storytelling is key to understanding what energy means in impromptu communities.
The Silwood Video Archive Project marries participatory methods with video archive material in a series of narrative building workshops supported by The Audience Agency’s Digitally Democratising Archivesproject thanks to funding from DCMS and the National Lottery, as part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritageinitiative.
In June, Spectacle began an online participatory video workshop series for a group of residents and community leaders in Greenwich. This programme of 8 half day workshops was designed to build the skills and capacity of the diverse Greenwich communities to co-produce media.
Spectacle offers bespoke training either one-on-one or to groups. These can be arranged to fulfil your specific needs. Bespoke training can be built around your project so you can book sessions at your convenience and get the advice you need.
We work in any time zone globally. Browse our courses, or email email@example.com for information on bespoke workshops.
We are delighted to announce that this month we will be launching the SILWOOD VIDEO ARCHIVE PROJECT, an archive-based participatory film project.
This pioneering project will: digitise and upload archive video filmed with the Silwood Video Group for the public to watch; encourage community viewing and tagging; run a short series of participatory editing workshops for up to 20 participants; and produce a co-authored short film using Silwood archive footage.
Spectacle has 40 years experience in community-led filmmaking developing collaborative documentaries and participatory video methods. Spectacle’s Silwood archive has been created over 20 years of collaborative filming and video making at the Silwood estate on the border of Lewisham and Southwark in Southeast London.
For news and updates on the project – SIGN UP HERE, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background: Spectacle and Silwood
In 2000 Spectacle’s founder Mark Saunders ran participatory workshops on the Silwood Estate in southeast London. He had been asked to work with residents for a few weeks – teaching them how to shoot video and maybe making a short film as part of the planned regeneration work in the area.
After a few months, the funding ended, but Spectacle never left. For twenty years the Silwood Community Video Group has been filming in and around the Silwood Estate, documenting daily life and changes created by regeneration.
The relationship between Spectacle and Silwood resulted in several short films, web clips for the Channel 4 series Unteachables, an ICA exhibition, as well as further exhibitions at the BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. This work has been funded by numerous grants, including the INTERREG Apango project, and has brought skill training, jobs, and investment to the Silwood Community.
In 20 years, Spectacle has run hundreds of video workshops for participants aged from 8-80 from a wide range of backgrounds to tell their own stories. In that time Silwood Estate has undergone immense changes. Brutalist estate buildings have been razed, the community that lived there was scattered to other parts of London, and for those that remained the promises made to maintain community facilities have not been fulfilled. Filming continued every year until the pandemic hit in 2020.
The Archive Project
Understandably, the incredible volume of filming has generated a tremendous video archive – over 300 hours which Spectacle maintains.
With the support of the Audience Agency, we use online participatory editing tools to open this archive. We will invite the Silwood community to watch, comment on, and begin a participatory editing process which will draw out the story(ies) of Silwood.
This initial project will have three stages.
Spectacle will review the archive, edit selections, upload the archive to Vimeo. We will reach out through networks to the Silwood Community who will engage in tagging and providing metadata for the video archive. Spectacle will analyse this collection of notes, views, opinions, and responses to the archive footage.
After reviewing the community response, Spectacle will convene a group of up to 20 interested community members to participate in a series of collaborative editing workshops. During 6 workshops participants will develop a short (30 minute) film or several short (5 minute) film clips from the archive through a process of viewing, discussing, and suggesting edits. Between each session, Spectacle will implement the participants’ editing suggestions.
If the participants choose, there is the possibility of conducting Zoom interviews to collect oral histories and add current perspective on the material they are working with.
Once the participants have created the rough cut of the film, Spectacle will polish the material with a final professional edit including sound design, graphics, and adding any further images that might be needed. Stage three will culminate in a screening of the film for the community.
We are very excited that this project will allow us to make the Silwood archive accessible to the community for the first time and we envision it will enrich and sustain this 20 year collaboration.
Further, we hope that this project will be a springboard for the community and Spectacle to attract future funding to develop the project further both by exploring the archive in more depth but also running filming workshops inspired by the archives.
At the largest scale, we imagine that this project could serve as a reproducible pilot for the many UK communities who have experienced bombing, “slum clearance”, neglect and decline of 60s Brutalist housing estates, large scale decanting, dispersal, demolition and regeneration.
If you want to get involved SIGN UP HERE or email email@example.com
One and a half years ago life for everyone changed irrevocably. Some of those changes have been worse, but some have been better.
At Spectacle one of the better changes has been moving all our courses online, and this means they have opened up to students from all around the world. Our original scheduling made attendance difficult in some parts of the world. We were all astonished by our participant from the west of the US who woke up at 2am each day to join classes!
The content of the courses is the same in both formats – we encourage you to choose whichever suits your schedule!
This programme is designed for those in or near the UK time zone. If you choose to take one of our courses in an intensive format, all your sessions will take place within a two week period. Some courses are only 1 day, while others are up to 7 days. These sessions all take place during full days running from around 9am- 5pm London time.
This programme is designed for those in a more global range of time zones. If you choose to take one of our courses in a Day/Night School format, all your sessions will be two half-days a week within a four week period. The number of sessions you attend depends on the course you are taking. Some courses are taught in only 1 session, while others are up to 11. These sessions all take place during half days running from around 3pm- 6pm London time.
The dates of each course in both formats is listed on our website. Each format will be offered three times during the year. If you wish to spread your courses over several programs or times, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a schedule together.
Another option is to go bespoke…
We also offer bespoke training either one-on-one or to groups. These can be arranged to fulfil your specific needs. Bespoke training can be built around your project so you can book sessions at your convenience and get the advice you need.
Spectacle Archive Project: Youth explore Racism and Courage
In the early 1990s Spectacle’s founder was in East Germany working to document the changing Germany after the Berlin Wall came down and post collapse of the Soviet Union. The purpose of this filming shifted in August 1992 when racially motivated protests and attacks in Rostock-Lichtenhagen became a flashpoint for political action.
During the attack, 100 Vietnamese asylum seekers were left to their own devices in a large housing complex called the Sunflower House. The Neo-Nazi attackers threw stones and Molotov cocktails. They smashed windows and set fire to the house in which the people were locked.
In Germany, every school child learns about the legacy of the Berlin Wall. There is an ongoing effort to keep asking hard questions about what the divisions with German society meant at that time, and what they mean today. One such project is Aus Mut gemacht – 30 Jahre Mauerfall, “Made out of courage – thirty years after the fall of the Berlin wall”, an open call for films made by young people that gave their perspective on this history.
The project asked people to look at the questions: What does courage mean? Are we brave today differently than 30 years ago? Where are the walls still standing today? What courage does it take to brace yourself against walls and change something?
School classes and groups from Berlin dealt with these questions, discussed, researched and expressed their thoughts in short films.
One of the films was created for this project by WAS GEHT?! Magazine, a multimedia program for young refugee and immigrant media makers. Filmmakers Hani Schehel, Noura Ben Belgacem and Hadi Ahmadi chose to focus on the legacy of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen Pogrom, supported by workshop facilitators Duc Vu Manh, Ganesha Küppers and Özgür Akgül, as well as educational team Mohsen Hassani, Katja Heinemann and Jenifa Simon.
They chose to focus on the legacy of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen Pogrom.
Their film deals artistically with the events in 1991 and refers to the current situation of refugees who are again exposed to racist attacks in accommodation by using images and voices from The Truth Lies in Rostock. They wondered what happened to the migrants who, like the Germans, experienced the fall of the Wall. In the 80s, thousands of Vietnamese guest workers came to Germany. Instead of just looking for an answer, the young filmmakers dealt artistically with the topic. Their research led them to the attacks carried out on the Vietnamese asylum seekers dormitories in the early 1990s. A dark chapter of the Federal Republic, which has almost been forgotten.
As part of their preparation to delve into this history of violence, the group worked with images from the documentary as part of their film workshops, cutting, pasting and highlighting images they felt were speaking to them.
As they discussed this history, it became clear to them that this chapter has unfortunately not yet come to an end. In recent years there have been more attacks on dormitories of refugees. Their films point to the continuity of violence against immigrants and those seeking protection.
The films they created as a result of their workshop process were presented during the festival week for the Aus Mut gemacht project at Alexanderplatz. The films can be viewed here, or here with English subtitles. All the films made as part of the Aus Mut gemacht project can be watched here.
The wall is no longer made of stone, but it is in the soul.
The WWII Nazis aren't just gone - racism is passed on from generation to generation. –Kinda Muhsen
The Truth Lies in Rostock, and the large archive of footage filmed at the same time has become increasingly important. Ongoing archive based activities are in the works for the 30th anniversary of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen pogrom in August 2021.
Collage art by WAS GEHT?! Magazin, using still images from “The Truth lies in Rostock”
Spectacle is excited to launch a new video library on Vimeo on Demand containing material produced on and with the Exodus collective. This includes both Spectacle produced TV documentaries: Exodus: Movement of Jah People and Exodus From Babylon along with extras and bonus material including an anti crack song and music video made by members of the collective with Spectacle and an appearance on Swiss youth culture TV show ZEBRA.
We will continue to add matierial from the archive and organise online screening events.
The Luton based Exodus Collective came into existence in 1992 as part of the growing DIY culture which arose in response to unemployment, poverty and frustration amongst young people. They organised free ‘rave’ parties, renovated derelict homes, set up a community farm and a community centre. Their philosophy had a strong spiritual strand, appealing to notions of community and natural justice in its struggle for survival and renewal. Their utopian project, whilst always peaceful, presented a challenge to the status quo and was met with powerful opposition.
Exodus offered working, viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills, poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.
Exodus was a unique urban phenomenon which did not simply confront but intelligently challenged societal assumptions and values. Exodus blended a volatile mixture of rastafarianism, new-age punk and street smart politics. “We are not drop outs but force outs.”
EXODUS: MOVEMENT OF JAH PEOPLE
Exodus, Movement of Jah Peopleinvestigates the group’s quest to regenerate their disaffected community by squatting and renovating decayed buildings. Their regular raves brought ex-army, ex-estate agents, ex-shop assistants, and ex-criminals together as Exodus, a dance collective with a new direction, an attempt to offer viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills such as poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.
“This remarkable film is an antidote to the dereliction and paranoia on Britain’s streets. Squatting and renovating decayed buildings, Exodus pursue a mutually agreed quest to regenerate their disaffected community… For anyone interested in a street relevant discussion on drugs, criminality, spirituality and community, this film is a must see.” – Squall Magazine 1995
EXODUS FROM BABYLON:
Exodus from Babylon investigates the intricate web of opposition to the Exodus group, from aggressive policing to local government obstruction. It reveals the shift in policing from reactive peace keeping to proactive intervention, involving a series of special operations by Bedfordshire Police.
The programme looks in detail at a number of police actions against Exodus, including the prosecution and acquittal of collective member, Paul Taylor, for possession of Ecstasy and for murder. It asks why the strategy of getting tough with Exodus emerged and identifies a number of interlocking interests at play.
Exodus from Babylon contains original music by the Exodus Collective and some great reggae tunes.
Broadcast on Channel 4 as part of the Renegade TV series.
Please contact Spectacle directly if you are interested in screening any of the films in this collection publicly: email@example.com
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In June 2021, Spectacle had the opportunity to work with Dr. Michelle Nicholson-Sanz and provide video training for the participants in her innovative Young Ecovisions project.
Dr. Nicholson-Sanz is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London .
During the pandemic she launched a call for young people around the world to share their ecovision – an idea for how to improve their environment and engender greater sustainability in their community. Four finalists were selected, two from India, one from Malawi, and one from England.
Dr. Nicholson-Sanz reached out to Spectacle as the second half of this ambitious project began: developing the ecovision of the finalist from Malawi, Fanny Chidoola. In order to realise Fanny’s ecovision, she partnered with Malawian forestry science student Khumbo Matemba. Fanny and Khumbo would be mentored by Dr Nicholson-Sanz to stage a theatrical performance to encourage the stakeholders in their area to realise the changes needed. The performance would be filmed and this material, as well as further footage collected by participants, would become a final short film detailing the ecovision and it’s progress.
As Dr. Nicholson-Sanz lives in Kent, England, the actual filming would need to be done by the participants on the ground in Malawi, and with a limited budget the participants would be making the most of the camera they already had in their hands in the form of a smartphone.
Spectacle has been developing a training programme for just such remote smartphone based video research projects. Anyone who has tried knows, it can be difficult to achieve good quality videos on a smartphone, and even more difficult to record footage which can be easily edited. Through a series of participatory workshops, Spectacle worked to upgrade the capabilities of the participants’ smartphones affordably, and offered clear guidance on best practices and filming techniques.
By the end of the workshop series, the participants felt ready to use their smartphones to record the performances, instruct others on how to get the best results from their smartphones, and already had recorded a good bit of quality footage of self interviews, location footage, and interviews with other stakeholders on the ground.
We are very excited to see the final short film from Dr. Nicholson-Sanz’s Young Ecovisions project when it premiers.
If you are running or considering starting a participatory video project, consider the possibilities of Spectacle’s training workshops for your participants or yourself. We conduct our training remotely, in almost any timezone, and using any equipment available from smartphones to camcorders. We have worked with hundreds of academics, researchers, and community organisations and received very positive feedback on our approach and the results that our trainees can achieve with their cameras after just a few workshops.
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