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  • Miles Hedley

VISIONS AS OUR EXILE The Albany online

Open Source Collaborations, a pioneering lockdown project launched by The Albany and Foreign Body Productions to help emerging artists find mentors and outlets for their work, had its third online outing in Visions As Our Exile, five short films aired on YouTube exploring migration, activism, mental health and loss and the concept of home.

And what a stunning programme it was – emotionally loaded, artistically rewarding and technically assured.

Stones In Hand by Mo’min Swaitat intercut archive film of families struggling to get by in the strife-torn West Bank with a group of Palestinian Bedouin refugees making new lives in London in a way that doesn’t cast them adrift from their culture – or their memories of an often tragic past. The final sequence, an almost surreal musical number, was heartstopping in its psychic and symbolic power.

Referencing the anarchist Peter Kropotkin and Kafka’s antihero K, The Secret Anti-Capitalist Diary Of Korinne K Peterpot was Heloise Thual’s furious polemic against global business, letting rip from the perspective of a woman who has watched in horror as her own once-activist parents have been crushed into submission by the callous drudgery of totalitarianism. This fine piece ends with the woman waiting for high-flying City job interview and vowing: “I’ll destroy capitalism from inside.”

It May Never Happen, by Jessica Bailey, was an uncompromising but deeply humane film about mental health and followed a woman with OCD as she went to see an excitedly garrulous friend who has just moved into a flash pad in the Barbican. The increasingly irritable under-her-breath mutterings of the visitor under her pal’s onslaught of self-satisfaction and platitudes magnificently captured the frustration of those who feel marginalised by society.

Lowlands, with words and music by Tommy Hearne, was a beautiful and moving reflection on the deaths of both his parents last year. Featuring a poem written by his dad Phil and wonderful graphics – including a psychedelic jellyfish to die for - by Rosie Hearne, it was a not only a fabulous work of art but as glorious an elegy on loss I have ever heard.

The programme of films ended with There, by Ben Woodward and Rory Edmonds, which investigated our link to our roots by contrasting, in pictures and verse, a visit to a wintry childhood home among snow-covered moorland and a contemporary city nightscape. It begins with bucolic calm but quickly crescendoes into a rage-fuelled denunciation of the Department of Work and Poverty and ends the warning: “We’re still here.”

Visions As Our Exile lasted only half an hour in total, with each film little more than five minutes long. Yet despite their brevity, their young and inexperienced creators made sure they packed the sort of punch many a mainstream artist would envy. If this is the future of film-making, we can all be optimistic.


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