Tag Archives: street art

film screening

Hi everyone. If you are in London, come down to the Hackney Attic on August 28 at 7.30 pm. TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND is screening at the Hackney Attic Film Festival alongside several other fine films in the Documentary Shorts programme. It will be a great evening! Best of all, it’s FREE!


Tickets bookable here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1256360871050516/

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TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND is now Officially Released

The street art documentary I made is now available to view online.


TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND is now Officially Released online for free viewing. Go to http://film.kingslandmural.co.uk
Please share freely.


 “In a forgotten corner of East London, in the shadow of the Olympic site,  artist Nazir Tanbouli is battling weather, vandalism and lack of funds, to create a massive mural installation throughout a condemned housing estate.”

After doing the rounds of the festival circuit including Sheffield Docfest and Portobello Festival in London, as well as screenings all over the place as far afield as Hungary and Egypt, it’s time to make the film more widely available since the fact is not that many people actually go to film festivals 🙂

More info, including full crew list and lots of material about the film as well as my still photography,  is at http://kingslandmural.co.uk/

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dual-wall rain2 wetwall

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I just had my official London screening debut for taking over the Kingsland, at the Portobello film Festival. London has many festivals, of different types from the grandiose London film Festival, which brings feature films from around the world, to the Raindance Festival, which is a mix of different types of things, to small specialist festivals and even neighborhood festivals. It means that almost any night of the year you have a chance to go and see really cool films in London, many of them by independent filmmakers from all parts of the globe. It’s such a stimulating place to live and to be a filmmaker.

Portobello film Festival is one of the most interesting of the festivals. For one thing it is huge, they program a lot of films and they have several venues and it’s extremely eclectic. The principal venue is really impressive, it’s a pop-up cinema, which is located under the Westway, the massive elevated freeway that runs across West London. They constructed the cinema underneath it, with a giant 30ft screen, and outside a sort of courtyard with a bar and partying space etc. It has a really great atmosphere, it’s extremely chilled out and because the festival is free, it encourages people to come, come and come again and participate.

Because my film is about street art and culture, it seemed to me to be the perfect environment to screen the film and it seemed that when I was watching the film and seeing the responses of the audience, though, is really right. I also really appreciate the fact that the festival is free, since my film and the project it is about, was all about being outside of the ‘cash nexus’ …

Portobello film Festival has a really amazing essay about the neighborhood the Portobello Street Notting Hill area, which is extremely interesting and has fascinating history. Although many people may be familiar with ‘Notting Hill’ from the totally fakey movie with Hugh Grant, it’s actually a much more diverse and quirky area. Even though it has been to a large extent colonized by the Uber rich, like most of London, it hasn’t completely sunk in the swamp of oligarchy. Anyway, there’s a fantastic little article on the Portobello film Festival website, which you can look at here


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TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND at Sheffield Docfest

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Sheffield Docfest has begun!  It’s the first day and yes, the weather is appalling, so far. Luckily though, the films are indoors.

TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND has just screened at the Puny Gods Cinema in Exeter and is now at the Sheffield Docfest, the UK’s biggest and most important film festival for documentaries.  The film is 23 min long and is in the festival Videotheque, available to all the festival delegates.

Arts docs are notoriously difficult to place since many people associate the documentary genre to social issues, or art history. TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND is a portrait of  an artist, and of a remarkable project set in the world’s greatest metropolis.

Short synopsis:

What on earth is an Egyptian doing painting the walls of a condemned block of flats in East London? As the city prepares for the 2012 Olympics, the Kingsland social housing estate lies in ruins, synonymous with crime and brutality. Taking Over The King’s Land follows artist Nazir Tanbouli and his self appointed task to take over the condemned housing estate and cover it with art. He battles the endless rain and the bitter weather of the “British summer.” Can art counter the urban atmosphere of deprivation, blight and neglect? Can it help Naz come to terms with life as an émigré Egyptian in London?


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Brick Lane

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a few of shots from a recent meander around Brick Lane, London’s main graffiti hot spot.
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There are few traces of its period as a Jewish quarter (unless you count the 2 fabulous bagel shops though they are not kosher), though the older signs of its Huguenot past are evident in style of the silk-weavers’ houses in the streets running off the Lane. The lower half of the Lane, a riot of Bangladeshi restaurants and shops, is interesting though the restaurant touts can be annoying.

The graffiti trend is new, just a few years old. Much of it is done with permission and is organized by middlemen hoping to at some point cash in in by discovering in the next Banksy. I think the trend will pass. There is little genuine artistry is this stuff. When you see something really good it stands out (for me that’s the bottom tow pieces), but most of what fills the street is not impressive.

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two heads – seen on the Regent’s Canal


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June 11, 2013 · 1:06 am


The King's Land

During the whole project The King’s Land the process of creating murals over an entire derelict housing estate was being documented by film and photography.

The film, TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND  (running time 23:00) is complete and is being released by New Reel Films. It’s being submitted to festivals at present. For more about the film, click on the menu above.

Here’s the trailer:

Taking Over the King’s Land  on Vimeo.

There will also be a short book published by Studio75 to accompany the film, coming out in late 2013.

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A Beach Full of Severed Body Parts (Hometown Blues #2)

I had a wonderful walk around the Seawall to English Bay, one of the most beautiful and lively parts of Vancouver. It was a very hot and sunny day, and the idea was to grab some sushi and catch the sunset while sitting on the beach. We did that, and after dinner were joined by a friend who lives nearby and often pops down in the evening to enjoy the sunset.

English Bay, Inuskhuk monument, Vancouver

The beach echoed with laughter; people played volleyball, picnicked or just watched the sea. A happier, more peaceful and friendly environment cannot be imagined. My friend looked around nervously, then lit a cigarette, surreptitiously. “Keep a look out for the police,” she said. “Why? “ I asked, surprised.

“Because it’s illegal to smoke on the beach or in any public place,” was the astounding reply. I was amazed.

“Do they really arrest people for smoking?!” I asked.

My friend said it had not happened to her but police did patrol the beach and in theory they could do so.

Now I’m a non smoker, have never smoked and find the habit “yuck” – nasty to me, though obviously not to those who do it. However I have not really got a problem with people smoking, except in restaurants. Yes, I’d prefer it if people didn’t smoke at all, but I have always preferred a live and let live policy. (What do I find more offensive in public than smoking? A lot. Cars and buses idling and emitting fumes, litter, ill-behaved children, people spitting on the pavement, people who push past shouting “Scuse me” in the tone you know they mean “f*** outta my way” etc. etc.) Smoking sucks, but as offensiveness it’s just not a big deal.

Later that night I went home and watched the late news. There came a report of yet another manifestation of “the Canadian Tendency” – this time in Mississauga, Ontario. What is the Canadian Tendency? Well in the Anglo speaking world there are certain observable tendencies in homicide. In the USA it’s all about grabbing a pile of guns and running out blowing people away. The British Tendency is to plot and do clever, creepy and crafty murders. The Canadian Tendency is to cut people into very small pieces and strew the pieces around – in the forest, in parks, and in the sea. That day, some limbs and head were found in a park in Mississauga.

Now it might be a stretch to connect the story of the police being charged with the idiotic task of arresting smokers, to the idea of murderers sowing the country with body parts, but I can’t get the connection out of my mind. And then the next day I saw in the local “newspaper” a shrill Letter to the Editor complaining about “appalling behaviour” and that that there are not enough police on English Bay, that they are failing in their duty to arrest smokers and people drinking alcohol (the letter also mentions swearing, which so far as I know is not yet an offence). Even assuming that the letter writer is not some kind of nut, who might well be living in the wrong part of the world (North Korea might suit), one might be tempted to point out that the most inner-city beach in a city of 2.5 million might get a bit crowded and over-lively on a hot summer’s day and evening?

So I’m thinking, what’s really “appalling behaviour” in a public park in Canada? Not really someone having a quick fag. I’d have that any day over the prospect of surprising someone in the act of chopping a body into pieces, or of finding a severed head. THAT is vile. And I’d kind of prefer if the police would focus on things like catching the kind of people who chop other people up into tiny parts and strew them around the parks and beaches.

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Strength in decay

In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.
Ernst Fischer (Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach)

“The things of mortals, mortal are as they: All pass us by, quickly to fade away, If not, we pass by them and they decay.”
Lucian, Syrian writer, circa 150AD

ALLOWING the work to decay was Nazir Tanbouli’s choice as he announced the end of the King’s Land project. Initially the idea was to keep making murals until the building was hoarded and demolished. However several things intervened to change this plan.

Firstly, the building work was put back and put back. This meant that the mural making could have gone on until October or even November. By which time any impact would have been lost, if the artist was even still interested.

Second, the weather this year has been unprecedentedly wet. As the project was based on the idea of paste up changing murals, there were just too many days of soaking rain when no work was done, or murals melting and dying before their time. 2012 is the wettest  year even in British history. No other year has been recorded this wet. Ever. And it’s Britain., That tells you how wet it its. It became a Sisyphus task of putting and reputting. That might have been interesting in itself but it was not the aim of the project.

Lastly and most importantly, Tanbouli wanted to make an impact and with The King’s Land he did. He also wanted to make something for the place, and as some of the murals are indeed painted, there is a good selection of murals that will stay until the building is torn down. He also wanted to make a point about decay: that this is an estate that has been left to decay for a long time by the powers that be – lives blighted, neighbourhood made ugly and embarrassing. The murals were not meant to hide that. Now the murals play their part in making a comment about urban environments and the politics of decay. Had it not rained so much, the murals might have lasted the summer. But let Nature do what it does, and let the artist do what he does.

Tanbouli finished the project by holding a big party and declaring the murals “open to view for as long as they last.”


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Vancouver murals by Arthur Shu Ren Cheng

about this time last year I posted photos of this mural in Vancouver’s Chinatown being painted by local artist Arthur Shu Ren Cheng. Well here it is one year on, an integral part of the cityscape. It’s a wonderful evocation of the city’s history. In the case of this work I think it’s very exciting that it’s painted from photographs taken in the city’s early history. In terms of murals, normally I’d be a bit iffy about paintings done from photographs, but in this case it’s entirely appropriate, and brilliantly done.

I found a Youtube video of the mural: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1olXsGm5vqw

And a really interesting article http://www.woodwardsmile.com/2010/07/24/off-the-wall-vancouver-chinatowns-new-murals-come-to-life/

I’ve always been interested in murals in any case. I remember the time I spent in Guadalajara (fantastic city) and saw the amazing murals of Jose Orozco. Now I’m married to a mural painter and I’m much more aware what mural painting involves:

above, Nazir Tanbouli painting a mural on Whiston Road,London E2

below, Jose Orozco, photographed by me 35mm slide, scanned.

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