Focusing on Hoxton Street in East London and its inhabitants over a four-year period, Zed Nelson's debut feature-length documentary is a film about love and loss, charting a community unraveled by gentrification, austerity and the nation's slide into Brexit. The Street will be available from 23rd March 2020 on DVD and to download from i-Tunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player, SkyStore.
As the glinting steel and mirror-glass skyscrapers of London's financial hub edge ever closer, the area surrounding Hoxton Street has been transformed by 'luxury' redevelopments and sky-high property prices. This traditional East London street, less than a mile from the City of London, has become the last bastion of the areas disadvantaged - a concentration of the aged, poor and dispossessed. Hoxton Street's close-knit working-class community has absorbed waves of immigrants since the 1950's. But as traditional industry has withered, the latest influx of young urban hipsters followed closely by expensive restaurants, digital media start-ups and corporate property developers has brought with it a deepening social and financial divide.
Sensing they have been left behind, the street's ageing residents lament the loss of their jobs and former ways of life, echoing the 52% who voted to leave the EU. Set against rapid gentrification, unregulated capitalism, years of austerity, the fallout from Grenfell and the eruption of Brexit, Zed Nelson's feature-length debut is a revealing portrait of life in London today.
Though born in Uganda, Zed Nelson has lived in Hackey since the age of 3. In his youth it represented a place to get away from. But today, Hackney has become one of London's trendiest boroughs - undergoing a process of rapid change, regeneration and gentrification. He says of filming The Street: "I began filming in August 2015, at a time of runaway property prices. My aim was to show the anatomy of gentrification as it happens, and its effect on a community. Six months later, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced the Referendum on UK membership of the EU. It proved to be an incredible mistake, splitting the country and exposing deep fault-lines... The film reveals the break-up of community, rapacious commercial development, and the manifestation of Brexit as a result of people feeling left out of the changes happening around them."
Zed Nelson is an internationally renowned photographer whose work has been recognised by numerous awards, exhibited in solo shows word-wide, and is in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. He has made several films including 'Gun Nation' (30 mins, 2016) exploring America's deadly love affair with the gun, returning to characters he had met and photographed 18 years previously for his seminal photography book of the same name; 'Europe's immigration Disaster' (26 mins, 2014) which drew attention to the plight of migrants attempting to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, before the issue became international news; award-winning 'Shelter in Place' (47 mins, 2009) exposing systematic environmental abuse by the petro-chemical industry in Texas; and short films 'Marmite & Fruitcakes' (about UKIP) and 'Screenagers' (about video game addiction).
Nelson's work on Hackney was published in a photographic book called 'A Portrait of Hackney' in 2014. His other books include 'Love Me', reflecting on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty; and his project Gun Nation which was awarded five major international photography prizes and published as a book of the same name.
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