10 New Films Imagine the Future of the High Street
Ten new films created by contemporary filmmakers in collaboration with young creatives explore what the future of the high street could be.
Appearing here throughout March the films will pose hopeful provocations at a time when these communal spaces have been hit hardest. Two films will be released per week, starting Tuesday 2 March.
Major regional arts bodies have organised the film projects including:
- Living Memory Archive (Stirchley High Street)
- Beacon Films (Newcastle)
- Turf Projects (Croydon)
- Site Gallery (Sheffield)
- Heart of Glass (St Helen’s)
- Focal Point Gallery (Southend-on-Sea)
- New Art Exchange (Nottingham)
- Lighthouse (Brighton)
- The Photographers’ Gallery (London)
- Newlyn Art Gallery (Penzance)
The films were commissioned as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme, led by Historic England.
Stirchley High Street, Birmingham
'Future Stirchley ' by Living Memory Archive
After a steady decline through the 80s and 90s, the past couple of decades have seen a reverse in fortunes for Stirchley High Street as people brought fresh energy with new ideas and commitment that are making a positive impact. In this short film, shop and business owners, residents and users are asked their thoughts on what this High Street means to them and how they see its future. What it reflects is the deep connection this community feels to Stirchley, and to each other.
Newcastle upon Tyne
'The High Street' by Beacon Films
Five film makers with Autism and learning difficulties explore five high streets from a unique perspective. They study the past and imagine the future using animation, voice-over and split screens. 'The High Street' is a fun kinetic exploration of what a high street is now and what it could be in the future.
'About Us/Without Us' by Turf Projects
In this short film, youth group Art Press and actor/filmmaker Araba Aduah consider the changes they have seen in Croydon town centre surrounding the high street in recent years and what their vision for the future is.
'The Penalty of Our Paradox’ by Site Gallery
A short film exploring the high street as a character seen through the perspective of young people’s experiences of public spaces.The score for the film features an original poem made in collaboration between poet Otis Mensah and young people’s group, the Society of Explorers, as well as an original piano composition written and performed by Mensah. Using the score as a starting point for the film, filmmaker Smart Banda developed a comprehensive visual identity for Mensah’s work. This informed a series of 35 millimetre black and white images captured by photographer Peter Martin that Banda then sequenced and entwined with Mensah’s poem.
'Running on Fumes' by Heart of Glass
'Running on Fumes' is a film that explores St Helen’s High Street through the voices of local young people - as they consider what their high street has to offer them, the needs of their community, and their hopes for a better future.
'S for Southend' by Focal Point Gallery
Bringing together voices, memories and the inventive ideas of a local community, this short film catalogues the public consciousness around how we can learn to adapt and build a better future in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Exploring the importance for public space to be experienced and constructed collaboratively, the film takes as its subject the past and present condition of a high street in transition. Collaging together imagery of architecture, tracking shots and a series of creative responses from participants, ‘S for Southend’ is a collective vision for reimagining the future of Southend High Street.
'Streets Never Lie' by New Art Exchange
This short film focuses on the cultural diversity of Nottingham and on its local businesses and traders, as well as familial relationships. The film was developed through working with local young people, and features a soundtrack by an up-and-coming young composer.
‘Carrying Us’ by Lighthouse
Lighthouse Young Creatives have developed a short film inspired by their collective interest in The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, by author Ursula Le Guin. Their film follows a journey into the high street via bus, and explores the experience of the high street from different perspectives and features phone, camera and archive footage layered and collaged to represent different themes. It aims to communicate that the essential aspects of people and community are at the core of the high street.
'Ode to Oxford Street' by The Photographers' Gallery
Filmmaker Abhi Arumbakkam’s 'Ode to Oxford Street' will explore London’s famous shopping street’s past, present and future. Using photographs from Historic England’s archive, combined with contemporary footage of Oxford Street and interviews with those who shop there, this short film will traverse time with a nod to what a future Oxford Street might look like.
'From A to PZ' by Newlyn Art Gallery
A short film shaped by the memories and histories of the people of Penzance. Blending animation with the interlocking streets between Market Jew Street, Causeway Head and Chapel Street, Penzance.