Community films celebrate diverse Deptford

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Short films celebrating the history and diversity of Deptford have been produced by Goldsmiths, University of London staff and students working with local residents.

Filming 'Water & Light'

A multilingual filmmaking community has come together through the Deptford Storytelling Project, which was launched in January 2020 by Dr Jim Anderson and Dr Vicky Macleroy (Goldsmiths’ Centre for Language, Culture and Learning) and Lucy Rogers of Deptford Cinema

Different languages, voices, poetry, dance and ceremonies are used by the filmmakers to tell their stories about families, friendships and communities. 

Among the finished shorts, which are now available to watch online following a public screening earlier this year, is a film showing how Deptford’s Vietnamese community – which became established in the 1990s through a refugee resettlement programme - celebrate their roots, culture, language and heritage.

In another, Deptford resident Zaida Florian, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, talks through her experiences of migration and life in this country while wearing the shoes she arrived in 23 years ago.

Goldsmiths PhD, MA and BA students collaborated with residents on three of the films, 'Water & Light' (Flora Guitton and Sara Shawan), 'Vietnamese Lunar New Year' (Miles Farrell, Quynh Nguyen, Thanh Nguyen, Minh Tran and Ngoc Anh Tran), and 'Wild Nurturing: Urban Wildway Rooutes' (Margaret Jennings and Jun Koya) with the latter largely shot in the ‘eco haven’ on Goldsmiths’ campus, with a soundtrack of birdsong. 

[Filming 'Walk With Me' with local resident Michael Williams]

The Deptford Storytelling Project was run across different sites in the area, including Goldsmiths, the community-led Deptford Cinema, the Albany performing arts centre and Deptford Lounge, a local library and community centre. 

Workshops, led by Yu-Chiao Chung, Mirela Dumić, Mark Long and Graham Salter, were opened to residents from all ages and backgrounds and places immediately filled up. At a Goldsmiths workshop, participants learned valuable post-production editing skills. 

Linked to Goldsmiths Critical Connections: Multilingual Digital Storytelling Project, the project also received funding from King’s College London’s AHRC collaboration, Language Acts and Worldmaking

Project Lead Vicky Macleroy said: “We were initially worried about stepping into the heart of the community and offering a series of workshops on a Saturday. Would people respond and what would happen when we brought people of very different ages and backgrounds together to make films?

“It became a raw and powerful experience as people uncovered the stories they wanted to tell, picked up the cameras and tripods, and started to frame their ideas from such varying perspectives. The main message to the filmmakers was always to tell their story and make the story matter and their films show this in wonderful ways.” 

Lucy Rogers said: “As a volunteer-run cinema it is our ambition to reach out to the local community and nurture a space where everyone feels welcome to get involved. I was very impressed by the films being made in schools [through Critical Connections] and wanted to know how digital storytelling could work in the community. Inviting people to make and screen their own films is a great way to do this. This project has developed connections with neighbouring organisations, as well as individuals, which we hope to continue into the future. The films make a great argument for the value of true grassroots cinema as a platform for creativity and self-expression.” 

The Critical Connections Project was initiated in 2012 with funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to enable people to create and share multilingual digital stories. 

Watch the Deptford Storytelling Project films on the Critical Connections website

A film looking at how the local Vietnamese community celebrate their roots, culture, language and heritage. By Miles Farrell & Quynh Nguyen, Thanh Nguyen, Minh Tran, Ngoc Anh Tran (Vietnamese Family Association)