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Late at Night: Voices of Ordinary Madness

Xiaolu Guo’s idiosyncratic new film is a penetrating portrait of the frenetic East End of London and a powerful piece of protest film.

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  • Director-Screenwriter Xiaolu Guo
  • Producers Philippe Ciompi, Xiaolu Guo
  • UK-Switzerland 2013
  • 70 mins
  • Production company Perspective Films

‘You have no choice about being here, you’ll have no choice about when you leave’ proclaims a woman in Xiaolu Guo’s latest film, a documentary about the personal and physical journeys of the people of London’s East End. Herself an immigrant to the area, Guo’s sensitive character studies hint at an affinity with the push and pull of feelings of alienation, a theme she has previously explored as a filmmaker (She a Chinese, LFF 2009) and novelist (A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers). This empathy is also apparent in her playful stylistic approach that layers Warhol-esque news reports, archival material and a soundtrack including Linton Kwesi Johnson and Fela Kuti, to comment on the human cost of capitalism. The resulting film is both a penetrating portrait of a frenetic place that feels deeply authentic, and a powerful piece of protest film.

Jemma Desai

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