Cass Cities and MA Architecture and Urbanism present a film screening of Concrete Soldiers UK, followed by a Q&A with the director and narrator. These issues are what MA Architecture and Urbanism students deal with in their activist projects, come and join us for a taster of the problems London faces.
The film looks at an under-reported scandal in London and across the country — the social cleansing of council estates. Starved of funds by central government, councils and housing associations are entering into deals with private developers in which, instead of renovating estates, they are being demolished and rebuilt. The developers make huge profits, but existing tenants and leaseholders are squeezed out, socially cleansed from their homes, and often from the boroughs in which they have lived for years, for decades, or for their whole lives.
Focusing in particular on the experiences of those living on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, and Central Hill and Cressingham Gardens in Lambeth, the film exposes how councils bully residents into making decisions about their homes without proper consultation and also uncovers how developers have found loopholes to avoid building affordable housing.
It also looks at the Grenfell Tower fire. Politicians and journalists claim that tower blocks built in the 1960s and 70s should be demolished are ‘criminally unsafe’, unfit for purpose as housing, and that their maintenance swallows up public funds. But they are wrong.
The greed has become palpable, and it sometimes seems that people can only stand by and watch this destruction take place, but there is resistance, from people fighting for our future social housing. Working tirelessly, these people are fighting the system because they believe that by sheer persistence they can make a difference. The film encourages viewers to have hope, to fight and to have a belief that a fairer future is out there.
Nikita Woolfe’s strident 62-minute film condemns developer-led council-backed ‘regeneration’ of London council estates. Woolfe disdains some conventional journalism practice to convey this condemnation. Woolfe, if asked what the weather is like, is not likely to hide behind the mainstream media’s faux objectivity and whimper ‘some people say it’s sunny whilst others say it’s raining.’ With Concrete Soldiers UK, Woolfe simply looks out of the window and tells an observed truth that, in fact, it’s pouring with rain; a toxic regeneration rain that socially cleanses London of thousands of working-class people.
About the filmmaker and the Woolfe Collective:
Nikita is producer and director working mainly on factual productions, specialising in cinematic storytelling. "I work to change systems, especially the social order which we have so readily accepted. If my craft can help make issues less unfathomable, I am one step closer to my aim.” She also runs Woolfe.VISION, a film collective which supports new filmmakers.
Nikita is taking Concrete Soldiers UK on the road to show to communities engaged in similar struggles - where the only hope of winning the war is by fighting back. She will produce a booklet bringing together learnings about successful resistance from around the UK, and pitfalls to be avoided. Money donated for tickets for this screening will go to both the tour and the subsequent booklet. The crowdfund is called Inspire 2 Resist.