Dominic Smith

Our film choices for June have been specially curated as a complementary pair, and we are delighted to announce that the short will be presented by its Director, Dr Dominic Smith.

Dominic’s film is entitled ‘Between wind and water’ – the nautical term for the part of a ship’s hull that is sometimes submerged and sometimes brought above water by the rolling of the vessel. Using interviews with former shipyard workers it explores their memories of Sunderland’s River Wear teaming with ships, while the viewer contrasts that with the calm, still waters of the River today. The men’s stories are moving, with the pride in their former trade brought to the fore. But the memories you take from the film are not specifically about Sunderland; this is about cities experiencing fundamental change and the effects on their citizens.
Dominic’s film is a reflective piece that has an artist’s pace (he is a practising artist, not a film-maker); it doesn’t suggest any answers.

The main feature – Citizen Jane – is a documentary about that true hero of city-planners: Jane Jacobs. More specifically, this film describes her battle to protect New York’s neighbourhoods in the face of the all powerful city-boss Robert Moses.

Jacobs provides a wealth of one-liners – “Cities are not monoliths, but federations of neighbourhoods” “This is not the rebuilding of cities. This is the sacking of cities”; “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
This documentary is an empowering call-to-action, challenging all of us to become city-makers / neighbourhood-makers / home-makers. And in so doing it supports people dealing with unwelcome changes in Cities throughout the world. “China today is Moses on steroids,” the political economist Saskia Sassen notes. A scary thought.

If after watching this film you wish to learn more about these protagonists, there is a fantastic biography of Moses (The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro), and a thrilling book about Jacobs v Moses called “The Battle for Gotham”.

The screening is on Thursday 29th June at the Cinnamon Club, doors at 7.30pm