London: Hidden City

London: Hidden CityThree short films about east London on the eve of the London 2012 Olympic Games

‘An ambitious, sensitively curated programme that engages with London on a much deeper level than the picture postcard part it’s due to play this summer.’ – Its Nice That

Three short films about east London, each capturing the area at a very significant moment in its history.

The brief invited filmmakers, artists and musicians to explore east London on the eve of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The films, by Eva Weber, Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne, Michael Smith and Wojciech Duczmal, trace the artists’ personal journeys through the Olympic Host Boroughs. London has been a source of influence, inspiration and curiosity throughout all of these artists’ careers and the series London: Hidden City mixes fact and fiction, capturing the spaces between landmarks and the areas Londoners inhabit.

London: Hidden City premiered at the Barbican in June 2012, and was also screened at Sugarhouse Studios in Stratford. A series of Q&A sessions and public talks accompanied these screenings, and the films were also screened online.


Lost in London from Wojciech Duczmal on Vimeo.

Lost in London is a love story between a person and a place. Michael Smith and Wojciech Duczmal have collaborated on several documentaries for the BBC, and this film is Smith’s personal and poetic response to the unique spirit of place that permeates the East End, where he has lived for many years. Smith takes the viewer on a wander through the fabric of the city, composed of memories as much as bricks and mortar. It is a complex, bittersweet romance between an individual and his city.

Michael Smith is an author, broadcaster and filmmaker and is best known for Citizen Smith, a series examining what it means to be English (BBC4, 2008) and Michael Smith’s Drivetime, a six-part road movie exploring the cultural impact of the car (BBC4, 2009). He has published The Giro Playboy (Faber and Faber 2006) and is a regular presenter on the BBC Culture Show.


In the summer of 2005, director Paul Kelly spent three weeks with the band Saint Etienne filming in the Lower Lea Valley. They captured an area that would soon be transformed from an industrial wasteland into the Olympic Park. At that time, it was still heavily polluted and largely deserted, but rich in history: the few square miles between Bow and Hackney Wick were the birthplace of the modern petrol and plastic industries. Now, the area is unrecognisable. Using new and unseen footage, Seven Summers looks back on what has been lost, what has been gained, and what the future holds for the Lower Lea Valley.

Paul Kelly is a film director, author and designer. In collaboration with the band Saint Etienne, he has made three films: Finisterre (2002), What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (2005) and This Is Tomorrow (2007), as well as several of his own films, including Lawrence of Belgravia (2011).


A contemplative study in movement and sound, Night, Peace takes the viewer into the London night to explore the eerie isolation and fragile peace of a nocturnal urban landscape that is imprinted with the echoes and resonances of daytime life. Beautifully composed imagery traces out a journey past sleeping buildings and empty tube trains, through reflections of light and shadow playing on the river, and soars high above the abstract maze of the city, as glimpses of spaces and lives normally invisible to us are revealed.

Eva Weber is an award-winning filmmaker whose work includes the short documentaries The Intimacy of StrangersCity of Cranes and The Solitary Life of Cranes.

London: Hidden City was commissioned by Create.