Public House

A triumphant genre-blending documentary that turns community action to save the local pub from gentrification into an exhilarating participatory opera.

Public House

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Director Sarah Turner
Producer Sarah Turner
Screenwriter Sarah Turner
UK 2015
120 mins
Production company Sarah Turner

This genre-blending documentary turns community action into an exhilarating participatory opera. In 2012, the Ivy House pub in Peckham was sold to property developers as part of the ongoing gentrification of south London. The locals opposed it. Unfolding from this scenario, the film weaves verbatim testament into folk operatic form with the Ivy House itself, embodied and imagined as a central character and inhabited by the memories of the generations who have passed through its doors. Turner films the community’s creative reanimation of the mourned pub through dance, poetry and song, reimagined as ritualised invocation, which both records and creates a vision of social possibility. Here, the ‘real people’ are not actors; they are performers and writers. The activism that saved the pub is a metaphor for social and creative agency. This is not just a film about resistance; it is a film that itself refuses categorisation, reinventing documentary reality as a polyphonic clamour of musical subjectivities.

Helen de Witt