New documentary explores the utopian dreams and concrete realities of Britain

  September 2, 2016 - 17:55   9695     Submitted by WA Contents

New documentary called 'New Town Utopia' is coming soon, directed by Christopher Ian Smith and executive produced by Margaret Matheson (Sleep Furiously, Scum, Sid and Nancy). New Town Utopia is now in production but also seeking funding on Kickstarter campaign to complete the film. New Town Utopia is the story of the broken dreams of the new British town experiment, told through the personal struggles and public battles of a misfit group of artists.

After World War 2, ‘New Towns’ were built across the UK as an antidote to war-ravaged, overpopulated cities with uninhabitable slums. These towns were designed to be hubs for arts and culture that would produce (in the words of the Government) “a new type of citizen, a healthy, self-respecting, dignified person with a sense of beauty, culture and civic pride.” Now, in the Twenty First Century these towns have deteriorated, degenerated and desaturated, becoming cultural vacuums with failed economies, fragmented communities and no facilities for artistic endeavour.

Image courtesy of Kickstarter campaign

New Town Utopia tells the story of a new town through the words and deeds of an oddball group of charismatic, mettlesome but sometimes self-destructive artists and musicians who keep ‘creating’ against the odds. Set against an exploration of the spaces, places and architecture of the town of Basildon in Essex, the film interweaves their music, poetry and art into their narrative.

Christopher Ian Smith asks on his Kickstarter campaign; ''It is a meditation on British social history that asks the question: do people make the place… or does a place make the people?''

Image courtesy of Curbed

Basildon, the largest of the first wave of New Towns, was invested with these hopes and aspirations. However now, 60 years on, art and culture are almost a distant memory. The town plans, public art and architecture, once thought so progressive, are vilified in the face of a struggling local economy and fragmented communities.

Image courtesy of Curbed

New Town Utopia questions how this dream has faded over time. In doing so, it explores the influence of environment and architecture on our psyche, and the impact of austerity on our towns and communities. In an environment where support for art and culture is at an all-time low, this film contemplates and celebrates the unceasing power of creative spirit.

Basildon's new high street in its infancy. Courtesy Modern Moving Image

Smith also talks about the possible impact of the film if it is completed. 2016 marks the 500th anniversary of Thomas More's Utopia and the 70th anniversary of the New Towns Act. New Town Utopia hopes to shine a light on some of the current challenges for Basildon, New Towns and other towns in the UK facing economic, social and cultural changes. He says that ''we hope the film will have a positive impact on Basildon and the film’s distribution strategy will incorporate community action initiatives and projects involving Basildon and other New Towns.''

Top image courtesy of thunderclap.it

> via New Town Utopia/Kickstarter








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