We are pleased to announce that we are meeting at the Lewington Community Centre (9, Eugenia Road, London SE16 2RU), on the Silwood Estate, on Monday May 23rd 2022 to watch with residents extracts from the Silwood Video Archive. The screening event will start at 6.30 pm and will be both live and online.
The event is open to anyone who lives or lived on the Silwood Estate, or is just interested in its history.
The Silwood video archive contains footage shot on the estate since 2001 to the present by Silwood residents and Spectacle, documenting the impact of the regeneration on the local community and everyday life and activities on the estate. Sections of this archive have been digitised and discussed with residents in online workshops as part of the Digitally Democratising Archives project, funded by the National Lottery and The Audience Agency.
It will be possible to attend the event remotely by joining this zoom link.
If you want to join the Silwood Video archive project and have access to future workshops and to the video archive, please sign up to the group by using this link
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.
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
Late July 2017, just a few weeks before the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham Spectacle found the “lost” video of the anti-fascist film “Aug 13: What Happened” in its extensive and unique video archive. The Spectacle video archive contains over 3000 hours of video on social justice, urbanism, human rights, housing, anti-racism, alternative and radical media from 1977 to the present day. Much of the late 1970s and 1980s content was shot in and around East London which was a very different place then.
The film “Aug 13” was found, high on a shelf, among a group of U-Matic tapes Despite TV had gathered for a film, never finished, for the 50th Anniversary of the 1936 Battle of Cable Street when the Jewish community of East London and its anti-fascist allies blocked the streets in order to prevent Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists marching through.
The film depicts the infamous events of 13 August 1977, the so called Battle of Lewisham, when the far-right National Front (NF) attempted to march through South East London which led to clashes with anti-fascist groups, and later between demonstrators and the police. The footage shows the first time police deployed riot gear on the UK mainland and provides vital evidence about the demonstration and its aftermath in which over 100 people were injured.
With testimony from eyewitnesses varying, and often contradicting official reports, the battle has become a contested historical event. The film was shot by volunteers connected to the Albany Video project in Deptford. This version was restored just in time for the anniversary and is now included in the London Community Video Archive
Nearly forty years later to the day, 12 August 2017, there was the “Charlottesville incident” a counter demonstration against a White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville , Virginia, USA. Lessons from the past might help in the fight against a new virulent form of Fascism taking a grip particularly in the USA, UK and Europe.
You might also be interested in our documentary film
22nd August will also be the 26th anniversary of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots. Check out our participatory investigative feature length documentary “The Truth Lies in Rostock”
August 1992 Lichtenhagen estate, Rostock, former East Germany. Police withdraw as fascists petrol bomb a refugee centre and the home of Vietnamese guest workers while 3000 spectators stood by and clapped.
Using material filmed from inside the attacked houses and interviews with anti-fascists, the Vietnamese guest workers, police, bureaucrats, neo-nazis and residents, a story of political collusion and fear unfolds.
“Aug 13” is just one of the many lost and forgotten gems to be found in the Spectacle Archive. We are always interested to explore collaborative projects based on our archives.
To find out more about our archive, which also includes 100s of original paper documents regarding independent media 1977-2000 please ontact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or visit Spectacle Archive
The Sari Squad were a group of activist women, mostly South Asian, who helped to defend multicultural clubs and gatherings from racist attacks in the early 1980s. Based in East London, they campaigned to raise public awareness for Afia Begum, a young Bangladeshi widow who was deported from London with her child, Asma, in 1984, despite there being no concrete justification for such action. Her treatment was harsh, described by the European Parliament as ‘callous and showing the racist and sexist nature of the United Kingdom immigration laws’. In April 1984, the Sari Squad took their case to the European Commission of Human Rights. However, in the same year, and before the Commission could rule, the UK Government arrested Afia in a dawn raid and deported her.
In a Commons sitting on 11 June 1984, MP Harry Cohen condemned this deportation as a ‘disgraceful action’. He pointed out how the Home Office’s haste to deport Begum, and their total disregard for her situation (recently widowed after her husband died in a slum fire in Brick Lane) reflected how she had become a ‘victim of prejudice of the worst kind and at the highest level.’ Responding to Cohen, David Waddington MP essentially dismissed all the issues raised as missing the point, arguing that ‘the vast majority of people do, however, accept the need for immigration laws and for adequate machinery to enforce the control required by these laws’
Just what he means by ‘adequate machinery’ is unclear, but if this recent interview with Benjamin Zephaniah for The Guardian is anything to go by, it wasn’t so much machinery but bigotry in the form of attacks, especially from the National Front, that operated to control immigration. Retaliation was a means of survival (‘we still had to fight them on the street’), and Zephaniah praises the ‘legendary’ Sari Squad for the way they fought against racism.
In this extract, taken from our video magazine, Despite TV 3, various members of the Sari Squad discuss how they go about fighting for tolerance and justice, and why Afia Begum’s case is so important to them. Although the footage was shot in the 80’s, it remains just as current today, in our increasingly unsettled, multicultural, yet ironically intolerant society. The post-Brexit climate of casual racism and violent racist attacks makes it all the more crucial to raise awareness that this kind of intolerance is just as prevalent and unjustified today as it was then, and we must continue to raise awareness.
This video is available to watch on Vimeo, and is part of a new series of archive material from Despite TV, which will be re-circulated over the coming months.
In the late 1980s and 90s, Despite TV, a collective of filmmakers founded by Mark Saunders (Spectacle Media) specialising in social and political issues, took an active interest in documenting and raising awareness of state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) persons in the UK.
In 1988 Despite TV produced a short campaign film, ‘Despite the Clause’, in response to the proposal of Section 28, a typically Thatcherite Local Government act proposed in 1986 and passed in 1988 which banned the “promotion of homosexuality”. The bill was proposed by the Conservative Party during the HIV/AIDS epidemic and purported to fear-mongering, homophobic tropes which portray LGBT people as deviant.
Section 28 was to have a damaging affect on LGBT individuals and, in particular, LGBT political and community groups, forcing them to limit their vital contributions to their communities, and in some cases shut down entirely for fear of legal backlash or censorship.
Despite the Clause features appearances from high profile activists including co-founder of Stonewall UK, Sir Ian Mckellen and Michael Cashman and M.P. Diane Abbott. In the film, Abbott, who was present at the proposal of the clause in the House of Commons, describes it as “A horrible, hysterical witch-hunting debate.” She also states that “The spirit behind Section 28 is a spirit of violence and intolerance to anybody that doesn’t conform, to anybody that’s different.”
Despite the best efforts of activists, Section 28 was ultimately passed and not repealed until 2003. Nonetheless, activists describe the resistance built against it as having a positive effect in establishing solidarity between LGBT people across the UK. Stonewall and other activists fought continuously for it’s repeal for over twenty five years. This campaign film subsequently remains a significant piece of LGBT history.
Never seen on UK TV Exodus Extended Mix was broadcast by ARTE in Germany, France and Italy. It contains all the 26 minutes of Exodus: Movement of Jah People that Channel 4 broadcast plus an extra 18 minutes on HAZ Manor, attempts to get the Ark, on prohibition and the police operations.
Exodus offer working, viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills, poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.
Exodus is a unique urban phenomenon which does not simply confront but intelligently challenges society’s assumptions and values. They offer working, viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills, poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community. Exodus blend a volatile mixture of rastafarianism, new-age punk and street smart politics. ‘We are not drop outs but force outs.’
The utopian Luton based Exodus Collective has met with powerful opposition. This film investigates the intricate web of this opposition and identifies a number of interlocking interests at play.
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 now plan to open a community centre.Some of their activities border on illegality but they are entirely peaceful Exodus has a huge following amongst local people.
Their philosophy has a strong spiritual strand, appealing to notions of community and natural justice in its struggle for survival and renewal. However, their utopian project presents a challenge to the status quo and has met with powerful opposition.
Exodus from Babylon investigates the intricate web of this opposition, 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.
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In January 1986, Rupert Murdoch moved his printing operation, News International, from Fleet St to Wapping in East London. Over 5,000 print workers, clerical staff, cleaners and secretaries were sacked in one day. He broke the traditionally strong printers union and banned the NUJ – the results of which we can see today.
Despite the Sun is an investigation into the year-long dispute, which shook the print industry. Produced from the point of view of the residents and print workers, the camera records the effects on residents harassed by the police and Murdoch’s lorries alike and cavalry-like charges of police horses on the picket lines. Vital questions are raised on the ownership and control of the media, access to it, the organisation of work and impact of the so-called ‘new technology’. Get the DVD.
One of the first camcorder activist tapes, Despite the Sun sold over 400 copies and was (thankfully) ‘bootlegged’ by the picketers and sold on the picket lines. An important historical account of a dispute that will resonate for many years to come and one that was almost totally ignored by the media.
During the three month production of this video Despite TV had equipment damaged, many light bulbs truncheoned and three members were assaulted by police.
Sean Cubitt: Despite the Sun is “I think, one of the most gripping pieces of political documentary to be made in this country in the last 50 years, it’s a phenomenal piece of work.”
“they all went scooting round through people’s houses and so on to get stories that the national media weren’t getting, and it’s a fabulous piece of work”
“So it was very important aesthetically as well as in terms of its politics.”