The Road: A Story of Life and Death

Renowned documentary filmmaker Marc Isaacs presents stories from people who have made their way to London from all over the world.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

Image gallery

  • Director Marc Isaacs
  • Producer Rachel Wexler, Aisling Ahmed
  • Screenwriter Marc Isaacs, Iqbal Ahmed
  • UK-Ireland 2012
  • 75 mins
  • Production company Bungalow Town Productions / Crow Hill Films

The latest film from acclaimed documentarian Marc Isaacs (All White in Barking; Men of the City) follows a main immigration route into the UK – the A5 – one of Britain’s longest and oldest roads, which starts at the Welsh ferry port of Holyhead and ends at London’s Marble Arch. Isaacs introduces a number of characters who live and work along the road, who have made their way to London from all over the world. There’s a young Irish woman who dreams of becoming a singer, who takes a job pulling pints in a pub in Cricklewood, serving the generations of Irish people who came over before her; a man from Kashmir working in a hotel, trying to earn enough money so his wife can join him; an elderly Jewish woman who fled Vienna when Hitler was in power; and a retired German air stewardess living with her estranged husband. A study of immigration that deliberately avoids being polemical or didactic, and featuring voices that generally remain unheard, The Road offers a fascinating and valuable insight into how life is for people who have come to this country from elsewhere.
Michael Hayden

Related event: British Films in Focus with Time Out

Director statement

There’s nothing particularly special about the road on which this film is set other than its age. It is the unremarkable and ordinary things that interests me more than the, so-called, remarkable or extraordinary. It’s people's lives, their lived experience, and not issues that arouse my curiosity and so that was my starting point.

When I first decided to make the film, I believed I would find all the ingredients needed for my film right there on my doorstep so to speak. I wasn't disappointed, although it took a good couple of years to find what I was looking for. What was I looking for? I wanted to find people whose stories were emblematic of the immigrant experience and, of course, to be surprised. I needed people to bring everything to life. People who I felt something for, who would move me and provoke something inside myself. The road would provide the film with a sense of place – the structure would be discovered along the way. After a year and a half of filming, I was desperate to start editing the material to revisit what I had filmed with my editor and to start the search for a coherent structure. With no script or predetermined sense of where the film would lead, the final film is always a surprise to me. It is a joy to discover how these individual stories talk to each other and more importantly to all of us.
Marc Isaacs

Director biography

Since 2001 Marc Isaacs has made more than 10 creative documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK. His films have won Grierson, Royal Television Society and BAFTA awards, as well as numerous international film festival prizes. In 2006 he had a retrospective at the prestigious Lussas Documentary Film Festival in France and in 2008 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London for his documentary work. Marc is currently a part time lecturer in Documentary Practice at Royal Holloway University.


2001 Lift [s]
2001 Lifters; Little Villain; Everyday Thieves
2003 Travellers [TV]; Calais: the Last Border [TV]
2005 Someday My Prince Will Come [TV]
2006 The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Lying; Philip and His Seven Wives
2008 The Curious World of Frinton-on-Sea; All White in Barking
2009 Men of the City
2011 Outside the Court [TV]
2012 The Road: a Story of Life and Death
All docs.