New Town Utopia is a story of grand utopian dreams and harsh concrete realities – a feature documentary about British new town of Basildon, Essex. It features Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent as the voice of Lewis Silkin MP. Directed by Christopher Ian Smith (Arterial, Cumulus) and Executive Produced by Margaret Matheson (Scum, Sid and Nancy, Sleep Furiously).
After WW2, New Towns were designed as social utopias, built to create a ‘new type of citizen’ – with public art, homes by progressive architects, work for everyone and a plethora of green space. Now a cultural vacuum, Basildon has a terrible reputation, fragmented community and failing economy. What happened to the utopian dream?
An audiovisual journey through populated ruins, New Town Utopia is brought to life through the stories and performances of artists, musicians and poets from Basildon. Facing austerity, adversity and personal challenges these are individuals driven by their creative spirit to help their community through art, poetry, music… and puppets.
New Town Utopia was released in the UK in 2018 to very positive reviews and audiences – it is now available on VOD and DVD. For more information go to: newtownutopia.com.
New Town Utopia is cross platform project. Alongside the film, an anthology of poetry, photography and thought was published with contributions from Jonathan Meades, Owen Hatherley, Gillian Darley, John Grindrod and Ken Worpole. See further info here.
An installation of photography and video has been exhibited at the Sharjah Biennale, Format Photography Festival and Rich Mix, London. This is a collaboration with CJ Clarke entitled Magic Party Place = New Town Utopia. More details can be found here: http://www.newtownutopia.com/installation/