UCL Urban Laboratory


Urban Lab Films: Cities of Sleep

25 May 2017, 6:15 pm–8:30 pm


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UCL Urban Laboratory


Curzon Bloomsbury
The Brunswick Centre
United Kingdom

In one of the first UK screenings, Urban Lab Films present the award-winning Cities of Sleep, a documentary displaying the tremendous social and political pressure that sleep exerts on the homeless in Delhi, where securing a safe sleeping spot can often become a question of life and death. We will be joined by the director and an expert panel for a post-screening discussion.

Tickets have sold out, but a few seats will be available at the Curzon Bloomsbury box office on the day.

Taking us into the heady world of insurgent sleeper communities in India's capital, the film trails the lives of two individuals. Shakeel, a young man who has spent seven years sleeping rough, is now having to deal with the "sleep mafia"-goons who capitalise on the scarcity of safe sleeping spaces in the absence of government safety nets. The film follows his attempts to secure a safe sleeping space as the infamous winter rains of Delhi are due. We also meet Ranjeet, who runs a 'sleep-cinema' community under a huge double-storey iron bridge that straddles the banks of the Yamuna River. The thin strip of land houses shanty cinemas where over 400 homeless come and sleep through the day for a nominal price. The flooding of the river poses a threat to the people sleeping there every monsoon.

A post-screening panel will initiate a dialogue on sleep, health and homelessness in Delhi - which has over two million homeless - and London - where over 8000 people slept rough at least once in 2015/16. How can cities with shared histories, yet divergent trajectories of urbanisation act as compelling entry points for comparison and intervention? And as the nightscapes of cities are increasingly vital to urban economies, what can be done to address the substantial homeless problems, and health consequences, in both cities?


  • Shaunak Sen (Director, Cities of Sleep)
  • Sushrut Jadhav (UCL Psychiatry and Camden NHS Homeless Outreach Services)
  • Deborah Garvie (Shelter)
  • Ian Bangay (Camden Safer Streets)
  • Ben Campkin - chair (UCL Urban Laboratory)

This special screening is part of a collaboration led by UCL's Dr Sushrut Jadhav, made possible by a grant from the UCL Global Engagement Office, and support from Urban Lab Films, the UCL Division of Psychiatry, and Bertha DocHouse.

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There are two reserved and fully accessible wheelchair spaces in the cinema screen. If you have any other accessibility queries, please contact the Curzon Bloomsbury through their website.