Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Watch our film online!

St Hilda’s East: the Story of a Community tells the story of our centre in the words of the people who have made it special over the years. Now you can watch it online by clicking this link.

If you would like a copy to own, we have lots here in the centre and are inviting a donation of £5. This will go towards the ongoing costs of running all the activities and   happen in St Hilda’s East, from our older people’s lunch club to our coffee mornings and ESOL classes for local women.

We also have copies of the film which was made in 1957, “St Hilda’s East”, which filmmaker John Hall has kindly allowed us to duplicate. These are also available in the centre and again we are inviting a donation of £5.

If you would like a copy of either of these DVDs, please email mail@sthildas.org.uk for more details.


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After a lot of hard work from our filmmaking crew, our film is ready to show. The world premiere of ‘St Hilda’s East: the story of a community‘ will be on Monday 8th November, at 4.15pm and again at 5.15pm at Rich Mix Cinema, just down the road from our centre on Club Row.

The film uses footage from the documentary made by John Hall in the 1950s about St Hilda’s East, along with the film taken by our crew this summer. We would love to welcome anyone with a connection to St Hilda’s East to come along to watch the film, look at the photos from our archive, and maybe see some familiar faces!

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The Community Memories Project was partly inspired by a film made in 1957 by John Hall, then a young film-maker at the BBC. John, who went on to have a long career in film and television at the government’s Central Office of Information, was approached in the 1950s by the Warden of St Hilda’s East, Miss Hunt, and asked to make a short documentary demonstrating the work that St Hilda’s did.

The cost of making a film in the mid 1950s was around £1,000 per minute. Miss Hunt had a budget of £200 for the whole film. “At this point”, John told us, “it is important to stress that I had no knowledge at all of social work or indeed or the area or the people of Bethnal Green. However the description by the Warden of the work of St Hilda’s, the problems it dealt with and the needs of th people it served, left me with the feeling that something must be done.”

What John did was to go ahead and make the film to a professional standard, and yet within the tiny budget St Hilda’s could afford. He did this through “a shameless road of exploiting friends, colleagues and my work situation”, working with similarly kindhearted friends to provide script, camera equipment, lighting, sound and much time free of charge to make the documentary. The BBC at the time was based at Limegrove Studios in Shepherd’s Bush and the film crew spent many evenings using the BBC’s equipment for editing and sound recording – all done on the quiet!

The biggest problem that John faced was how to buy film stock, an expense which seemed impossible to avoid. However, by using up scraps of unused film which were given to him for free, he managed to piece together enough film stock to shoot the 23 minutes of film.

The film, which is simply called ‘St Hilda’s East’, is a beautifully-crafted documentary in which older people, the youth club, local children and St Hilda’s East staff all show their everyday activities, looking slightly awkward in front of the cameras.  It is wonderful to think that the old ladies we see speaking about “whether it’s better now than it was in the old days” were born and grew up in the 1880s or even earlier, before the Boundary Estate had been built. Watching this film, some of our contributors to Community Memories Project have recognised members of the youth club, who are now in their 60s and 70s; and former staff members have relived memories of the ‘Bruce Hall Youth Club’ and the building on Old Nichol Street.

John has been very helpful, providing us with an account of his time making the film and providing us with the original 16mm film to be cleaned and used for our new film, made by the youth projects this summer. When looking back on his involvement, he writes, “My memory, now over 50 years on from that time, is of an institution which was in essence a place of calm, providing practical help and assistance to the community around it.” The strong impression that the staff of St Hilda’s and the community around it made on him inspired the hard work and effort that he and others put in to make this film, a fascinating insight into a world which has now changed.

John Hall’s film will be deposited at the BFI as part of their permanent collections, but we will be showing it on Monday 8th November in Rich Mix and in community venues throughout Tower Hamlets over the winter.


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Staff and service users at St Hilda’s East have been treated like film stars over the past few days. A dedicated team of 9 young people have been framing their shots and choosing their footage of the activities that St Hilda’s East offers today, with the help of community filmmakers Digital:Works.

We’ve been filming the Older People’s Project at their Computer Club, their Keep Fit sessions, and an old-fashioned sing-along; we’ve filmed the Women’s Group at a barbecue and the children in the Creche; and we’ve filmed the toddlers at their Soft Play sessions.

Our team includes young people from the youth project here at St Hilda’s East and a volunteer from Cheltenham Ladies College, all of whom have been refining their directorial skills over the past few days. We’ve learned not to shoot people with their backs to the light, how to use a tripod, and that filming children is as hard as everyone says it is!

The film that we’ve made will be shown in the late autumn.

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