From director Sarah Turner comes Public House, a documentary that highlights London’s ever-expanding gentrification problem and the people of Peckham who defied the odds to prevent it from taking over their local pub.
Public House opens with a voiceover of multiple people sharing their first memories of the treasured pub The Ivy House, some dating back to World War II. The multitude of voices talking over shots of the pub gives the audience an idea of what to expect from the rest of the film.
The film has been described as a genre-blending documentary as it introduces an operatic style from the very beginning which is used throughout the piece. This style comes from the multitude of voices and is created through repetition of certain pieces of dialogue to develop a musical backing track. A brilliant feature that really emphasises key points made by the local people and does a great job of building a sense of community spirit.
The spectator gets a real sense of how valuable The Ivy House is to the locals through a mixture of haunting shots of the desolate public house and bright, vibrant sequences showcasing the community enjoying all it has to offer. It’s in the latter that the true beauty of Public House comes through; as you see the local people dancing, singing and performing poetry, you understand why it is they worked so hard to save it.
Admittedly it gets off to a slow start and can come across as relatively confusing and erratic, however the nonlinear narrative begins to make more sense as the documentary reaches the concluding section. This can leave you feeling quite bewildered if you let your mind wander.
Public House will show you gentrification from the perspective of the people whose livelihood is threatened by it. Narrated through a multitude of occasionally overwhelming voiceovers that tell stories of the beloved pub and shots that demonstrate the power of community spirit, you will feel a strong desire to get down to your local pub and show your support.
Public House does not have a UK release date yet. It is part of the documentary competition at the 59th London Film Festival.