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Twilight City

Black Audio Film Collective

UK, 1989
52 minutes, Colour, Sound
Original format: 16mm
Available formats: SD digital file

A young woman, Octavia, receives a letter from her mother, Eugenia. Eugenia wants to return to London, after 10 years in Domenica, to live with her daughter again. The old resentments, hurt and anger that Octavia thought had been buried by the past resurface. She begins to compose a letter to her mother.Paul Gilroy reminisces about his earliest memory of London. He was walking with his father through the Docklands – before its glossy redevelopment – looking at all the old buildings, the strange symbols daubed on the walls, and wondering what the great fire of London did to the city. He asked? his father many questions he couldn’t answer.Gail Lewis grew up around Kilburn and Harrow. She remembers the neighbourhood as derelict. George Shires, another interviewee, talks about the images of London he grew up with at his school in Zimbabwe. The London of his imagination was affluent, modernised and promised a better way of living. While Homi Bhaba’s impression of London as a 12 year old immigrant was dark, dull and restrictive, with a disorienting lack of smell.Rosina Visram tells the story of a nineteenth century Lascar community, brought to London by the East India Company and then abandoned to poverty.When David Yallop was growing up, Clapham was a working class district – a safe neighborhood where he was free to roam. But Clapham is now a middle class enclave and he feels that he has lost his roots.Gilroy, Lewis, Bhaba, Visram and Yallop discuss how London has changed through the centuries and talk about the changes wrought by the Conservative Government through the 1980s. The city has become decentralised, fragmented and a pawn of the business elite, especially the Docklands. They talk about the people on the margins and how they survive.Meanwhile Octavia writes to her mother about their strained relationship, how the London she left behind is no longer the same as the one Octavia inhabits. She tries to understand her mother’s life, why, for example, she joined the Conservative Party and took comfort in the Church while Octavia and her friends demonstrated for gay rights.Octavia would like to have her mother’s faith but not her mother’s silence.