Made in Wolverhampton (plus short film What the Neighbours Saw)
The Open City Docs Festival has hit its midway point and, forgetting the few delayed starts, it has been a roaring success. With University College London generously opening up their lecture theatres to accommodate the festival, we were ushered into the “Darkroom” to view Adam Kossoff’s Made in Wolverhampton from the festivals “City Scope” section, but not before we were shown a short film entitled What the Neighbours Saw.
The film is made from a number of different interviews to families on the same street about Christmas lights. Each gives their own opinion to why they dislike or like their neighbours putting up lights over their house. It’s a small slice of wit and chuckles put forward from a collection of films that were shortlisted for the 2012 MyStreet competition.
As the main feature begins, the title “notes from a melancholic wanderer” appears on the screen. I wondered to myself whether Kossoff was simply referring to “wandering” the city, or perhaps maybe a subtle joke on the football team Wolverhampton Wanderers? I may have been wrong but in any case, this sort of dry and ironic sense of humour sets the tone for the rest of the feature.
As we are shown different landmarks, buildings and supermarkets that are found in Wolverhampton, the narrator (Sean Foley) monotonically drifts over various facts and witty anecdotes as he reads out a letter he is writing to a loved one.
At first, the film suggests a mundane quality as we are presented with different parts of the city together with facts like: “Did you know the church has now been converted into a supermarket?” However, as the film pushes on, the narration suddenly becomes more interesting and poignant as Foley becomes lost in his own deep thought.
Cuba crops up frequently and the close relationship and ties that Cuba, especially the capital Havana, and Wolverhampton have is remarkable. One connection is that the motorcycle that Che Guevara rides over South America is a Norton 500cc that are made in Wolverhampton factory.
As the “wanderer” passes through parks, peers into derelict buildings and sits in the shopping centre, you get a sudden feeling that your watching the most un-exotic travel programme ever made. Having said that, it has a good few laugh-out-loud moments and, for what it is, it was an enjoyable and very educational experience.
For further information on the festival highlights click here.