Order for Customer

Your shopping basket is empty. Shopping basket

How We Used to Live

Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne return with an impressionistic, poetic vision of a vanishing London, with footage from the BFI National Archive.


Image gallery

  • Director Paul Kelly
  • Producer Martin Kelly
  • UK 2013
  • 70 mins
  • Production company Heavenly Films

Documentarian Paul Kelly returns to the festival with his latest collaboration with the band Saint Etienne, following the loose trilogy of London films Finisterre, What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day and This Is Tomorrow, all recently published on BFI DVD. In the decade since Finisterre Kelly has built a reputation as a distinctive voice in British cinema, developing a lyrical style that draws on the psychogeography and people of the city and its culture. How We Used To Live is effectively a prequel to Finisterre, a meditation on London life today and a glance back at a receding Britain. Using colour footage from the 1950s to the 1980s, taken from the BFI National Archive, the film covers the ‘New Elizabethan’ age from the optimism of the post-war era to the dawn of Thatcherism. Soundtracked by Saint Etienne’s Pete Wiggs and scripted by the band’s Bob Stanley with Travis Elborough, the film is for anyone who has ever tried to understand their city. Alluringly impressionistic, poetic and political, this is the most joyful and entertaining offering yet from a unique filmmaking collective.

Stuart Brown

Festival calendar


Digital edition programme
Films A-Z
Countries A-Z
Programme changes

Enjoy a world of benefits with BFI Cinema Membership.

Read more



Follow the BFI London Film Festival live blog.

Read more


Promotional code

If you have a BFI promotion, please enter the Access Code: