This Thursday, East London’s renowned William Morris Gallery will host an evening showcase of four short films by independent filmmakers exploring the natural world, including two shot in the local borough of Waltham Forest.
These four distinct stories each explore the themes of the natural world as a space for artistic inspiration, spiritual connection, and political and cultural explorations.
One of the featured films, Ocak (Turkish for ‘stove’), is by London-based documentary maker and anthropologist Zeynep Kaserci.
About Zeynep Kaserci’s film Ocak (2020)
Filmed in an observational style, Ocak explores the story of a family who earns their livelihood as hazelnut cultivators in rural north-eastern Turkiye. It captures local everyday life in the village and explores the relationship between people and their hazelnut gardens, which have been inherited throughout generations.
Along with challenging the all too prevalent Western mainstream narrative, which Kaserci regards as wrongly framing “gender dynamics in the Muslim Middle East simply as an oppressor-oppressed dichotomy”, the film also asks questions about the heart, land and family.
The Izmir-born filmmaker hopes that by taking the audience closer to the daily worries and desires, joys and quarrels of the people on screen, Ocak can provide a better ethnographic understanding of life as lived by people living in the Black Sea region of Turkiye.
The film, in Turkish with English subtitles, is just over 28 minutes long.
The other three films being screened at the William Morris Gallery on Thursday evening are as follows:
Great Sale Wood (2024) – Michaela Davis
A short, animated film crafted through the sustainable process of cyanotype, featuring over 2,800 hand-printed frames.
Shot around Highams Park Lake, the film explores themes of ecology and climate crisis.
A study of interconnected beauty in nature, the film contains a score featuring digitally manipulated audio recordings of the lake.
Duration: 2:02 mins
Effigy for a Black Soldier / Protector of the Children (2022) – Maya Campbell
Effigy for a Black Soldier uses a reworking of the folk song Wayfaring Stranger as a storytelling device to explore memories of the artist’s estranged father, who served in the British Army and had a strong Christian faith.
This meditates on the complexities that come with being a black man in service of the British Army, suggesting themes of migration, longing for home and the lingering phantom of the British Empire on the diaspora.
The unnamed location suggests borders, emphasised by the dynamic presence of the sea and watery interlude that follows.
Protector of the Children alludes to the Nepali folklore figure of the Lahkey, who is said to be a man-eating demon who protects children and townspeople, dwelling deep in the forests of Nepal.
The work draws from the artist’s early encounter with the Lahkey mask, when placed into her grandmother’s care at the age of four, and is an intimate video-performance filmed during the artist’s residency at Space A in Kathmandu, Nepal, exploring walking as a methodology to build connection with ancestral land.
Duration: 10:32 mins
The Land we Seek the Land we Dream (2022) – Fourthland
Fourthland’s film is a deep remembrance of ‘the first story’, performed through various acts in the landscape and a conversation between a group of cross-cultural and intergenerational hands.
This piece is an invitation to feel ourselves as part of nature. The main elements of the piece are filmed on and around Leyton Marshes.
Duration: 17 mins (including meditative piece)
Title: Film Night: Radical Landscapes
Date: Thursday 8 February 2024
Time: 6pm to 9pm
Venue: William Morris Gallery, Forest Road, Walthamstow London E17 4PP
Admission: Please ‘pay what you can’ for your ticket. The suggested donation is £3 per person.
If booking for more than one person, add your donation amount and you will then be asked for the total number of attendees at checkout.
Tickets: available online from Eventbrite – click here
Main image, top, of a still from Zeynep Kaserci’s film Ocak (2020)