Tiong Bahru

Civic Life

Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor|2010|73 mins

"... an impressive cinematic achievement"
Andrew Pulver, The Guardian

The Civic Life tour is an assembly of selected Civic Life films - including the award winning films, Who Killed Brown Owl and Joy - offering an intriguing insight into the distinctive and compelling body of work that has informed the making of Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor's critically acclaimed debut feature Helen.

Since 2003 Molloy and Lawlor have been working on a unique and richly cinematic series of short films made in negotiation with local residents and community groups. At the centre of the work is the relationship these communities have to the environments in which they live and work. With Civic Life Molloy and Lawlor have generated a meditative and visually arresting body of work that is both theatrical and cinematic, experimental and highly accessible. All of the Civic Life films are shot on 35mm cinemascope making extensive use of the long take and involving largely non-professional casts made up of volunteers from the local communities.

Although each film has its own distinct qualities, arguably their real emotional power is only fully realised when they are seen together. For the Civic Life tour the selected films have been edited together without titles or credits and the resulting uncertainty, as to when one films ends and another begins, serves to draw out and intensify the overlapping themes of identity and place, belonging, hope, loss, and new beginnings.

In this collection

Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | UK | 2007 | Colour | 35mm | 1:2.35 | 29 mins

Daydream is a highly poetic and meditative work tracing the connection between a city during a moment of great change and how this moment can be reflected in the emotional world of its citizens as they contemplate their lives at a particularly vulnerable juncture, caught between past and future, amidst a sea of transformation.

Who Killed Brown Owl
Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | UK | 2004 | Colour | 35mm | 1:2.35 | 9 mins 23 secs

It is a sunny afternoon in an enchanted corner of England. Strains of elegiac classical music fade up on the soundtrack, as a camera begins to gently move along a riverbank gradually revealing an elaborate tableau. Burnt sunbathers, beer-drinking kids, an abandoned baby, a rabbit in a boat, a bicycle accident - in Who Killed Brown Owl, the perfect English arcadia gives way to varying kinds of misfortune, disruption and violence. With more than a passing reference to the 'narrative' paintings by masters such as Bruegel, this spectacular single take 9-minute short is about a lazy Sunday afternoon that goes horribly wrong. Filmed over the course of one afternoon, Who Killed Brown Owl features a volunteer cast of almost 100 residents of the London Borough of Enfield.

Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | UK | 2005 | Colour | 35mm | 1:2.35 | 5 mins 20 secs

Twilight is the fourth film in the Civic Life series in which desperate optimists look into the hopes and fears of the disparate communities upon which they turn their lens. Shot on a boat on the Tyne against the spectacular backdrop of the seven Tyne Bridges, Twilight is an intimate exploration of the ebb and flow of life involving 5 residents from Tyneside.

Town Hall
Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | UK | 2005 | Colour | 35mm | 1:2.35 | 10 mins 35 secs

Town Hall was filmed on the 29 May 2005 in the stunning surrounds of the West Bromwich Town Hall with the involvement of over 200 local residents. In Town Hall the camera takes a restless, sweeping point of view on the issues that matter to the assembled local residents.

Leisure Centre
Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | UK / Ireland | 2005 | Colour | 35mm | 1:2.35 | 17 mins 40 secs

Leisure Centre was filmed in September 2005 in the new, only partly opened, leisure centre situated on Main Street, Ballymun and it follows a young man through the rooms and down the corridors of the building where he works as he struggles to come to terms with his new role as a father. It is his partner, the mother of his child, who helps him to open his eyes and imagine a better future for him and his young family.

Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | UK | 2008 | Colour | 35mm | 1:2.35 | 9 mins

Joy is a story about a 17-year-old girl, Joy, who has gone missing. The police stage a reconstruction of Joy's last known movements in a local park. But by the time the reconstruction is ended it is clear that what we are watching is more than a reconstruction of a teenager's last movements but rather a meditation on the fragility of youth.

Joy won the Prix UIP Rotterdam award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2008.

Moore Street
Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | Ireland | 2004 | Swahili / English | Colour | 35mm | 1:2.35 | 5 mins 45 secs

Moore Street is a single tracking shot filmed on Dublin's famous Moore Street with members of the Dublin-based African production company, Arambe. In the film, which is a continuation of our fascination with changing urban terrains, we follow the thoughts of a young African woman in Ireland as she considers her future, and her unfolding sense of identity as she walks along the city street at night. Moore Street documents an iconic street in Dublin at an interval in its official re-development, where already the everyday hopes and dreams of new communities are reshaping the city as home.

Tiong Bahru
Dir: Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | UK / Singapore | 2010 | Colour | 35mm | 1:2.35 | 19 mins 28 secs

Following three people of different ages over the course of one afternoon as they reach a crucial decision in their lives, Tiong Bahru is a lyrical and thoughtful short film that explores ideas of belonging, place and family. Filmed on beautiful 35mm cinemascope in the hawker centre and market of the heritage estate of Tiong Bahru in Singapore, Tiong Bahru features a cast of over 150 volunteers from Singapore.

The Civic Life tour is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

“Why cultural film is no longer a secret, independent cinema is thriving against the odds, says the ICO's Catharine Des Forges, and closer to home than Hollywood”

Read the full article on the Culture Professionals Blog, The Guardian

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