UCL Urban Laboratory


The Malleable Spectacle: London on Film study day

04 July 2015, 11:00 am–4:00 pm


Event Information

Open to



NFT3, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XT

As part of the BFI's London on Film season, the UCL Urban Laboratory is hosting a study day, asking how film has been used to document urban change, and how it has actively shaped the city.

Often celebrated as a time capsule, film gives us a glimpse of a world that has passed - allowing us to see buildings and entire neighbourhoods that no longer exist. But, like any historical record, film is enmeshed with the concerns and attitudes of the time in which it was created - and is a powerful tool for advancing particular agenda. Representations of London's built environments in moving image can tell us as much about evolving ideas about housing policy, shifting identities of neighbourhoods, and the different ways London has wanted to present itself to the world, as it can about the changing physical composition of the city.

Through richly illustrated presentations, in-depth discussion and screenings, this Study Day examines how moving image reflects and moulds attitudes towards London's built environment, from the 1890s to the present day. We'll look at a wide variety of moving image media, including fiction film (ranging from Piccadilly (1929) to Kidulthood (2006)), documentary (such as Housing Problems (1935) and Oscar Newman's The Writing on the Wall (1972)), and music videos, and engage with the very current debates about regeneration and gentrification.

Speakers include:

Ben Campkin - Director of UCL Urban Laboratory
Ian Christie - Professor of Film and Media History, Birbeck, University of London and lead researcher on London Screen Studies Collection
Richard Martin - architecture and film scholar, author of The Architecture of David Lynch (Bloomsbury, 2014)
Simon McCallum - Curator, BFI National Archive
Hilary Powell - artist and filmmaker, whose work includes The Games (2007)

Tickets cost £10.65 or £8.35 for concessions. Book on the BFI website.