- Part of...The Ghosts of Songs
- Gallery 1: Excavations
Handsworth Songs' point of departure is the civil disturbances of September and October 1985 in the Birmingham district of Handsworth and in the urban centres of London. Running throughout Handsworth Songs is the idea that the riots were the outcome of British society's suppression of black presence and black desire in Britain.
The film portrays civil disorder as an opening onto a secret history of dissatisfaction, associated with industrial decline and the crisis of documentary as a mode of address. The term 'Songs' refers not to musicality, but instead invokes the idea of documentary as a poetic montage of associations, familiar from the British documentary cinema of John Grierson and Humphrey Jennings.
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