Day 4 at the London @LabourFilmFest – Sparkle, Trash Dance, Stil the Enemy Within and La Capital

Day 4 was the best so far.  There was a real mix of stuff due to the fact that we had 3 fairly short films and a discussion session.

Sparkle follows the true story of dancer Sheri “Sparkle” Williams as she overcomes injury to continue to star at the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in the USA. She’s been dancing there for 40 years.  This film highlights what can happen to people when health affects their work but it also sheds light on the arts where people can suffer such issues at a far younger age.  To be dancing into her 50s bucks the trend by decades.

What followed was the highlight of the festival so far.  Trash Dance is about a choreographer (Allison Orr) who transforms ordinary situations into dance routines.  On this occasion getting refuse workers from Austin, Texas to perform, trucks and all, in front of the residents they serve every day.  The film follows Allison as she accompanies the workers on their jobs collecting rubbish, recycling, dead animals etc.  You get to see what they do but this is interwoven with interviews about their work and lives and the preparations for the dance itself.  The interviews show how these workers feel like they’re taken for granted, how they all need second jobs but also how proud they are of their work.  This is such a good film, it deserves to be seen across the labour movement and beyond.  One of the issues that comes across very powerfully in the film is that work can be art.  Sometimes you might only need to set it to music.  Seeing these workers showing off their art to the public was very moving.

There followed a discussion on Still the Enemy Within, a film about the miners’ strike which comes out later this year.  This film will be comprised of interviews with the miners themselves.  Sinead Kirwan (Producer) was on hand to talk through the process of making the film.  She explained that it will take the viewer through the full story of the strike.  I’m unsure about this film at the moment.  With all the 30 year anniversary stuff we’re in risk of celebrating something that was a massive defeat.  I think there’s space at some stage for a film that looks at why that defeat occurred and what could have turned it.  I’m not sure this will do that.

Le Capital is a film about an evil banker.  A prick bobbing up and down in a sea of dicks.  The main character spends most of his time plotting to get very rich, all the time trying to outsmart his colleagues.  He shows no remorse; he is just horrendous.  When his socialist uncle challenges him he points out that he’s an ‘internationalist’ but that his internationalism (unlike ours) means that people don’t starve.  Except, of course, they do.  But he has the power and influence that means losing the argument is irrelevant.

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