In memory of sky over Wornington Green (2019)
"The history of Wornington Green isn't left to the narrative of the developers. It's left in the words of the people who lived here."
A portrait of actress and playwright, Natasha Langridge, who lives on the Wornington Green estate in North Kensington. The estate is undergoing demolition for the building of Portobello Square and Natasha reflects on her life and the history of the estate, which she is documenting as part of a heritage lottery funded project. In particular, the physical and emotional loss of space, trees, the sky line and the impact on the community during a 10 year long "regeneration".
Emotion and Economics (2019)
This was a film programme curated by Constantine Gras that won a special award at the Portobello Film Festival, 2019. It celebrated the history of the Gate Cinema, Notting Hill, London from 1911 to the present day. A narrator told the story of emotional creativity in the world of boom and bust capitalism. A monster mash-up of films included silent shorts, extracts from the films of British film star, Robert Donat, and art house cinema of the 1970s.
Anna Bowman: "I really enjoyed Emotion and Economics. It was great to see Adam Ritchie's film set in NY and the extract from the fascinating film about RD Laing. They were a wonderful reminder of the past and the damaged video/film just added to the atmosphere. Constantine Gras' curation was superb and the live actors, speakers and extracts of films worked really well. His film about the garden near Grenfell tower was very moving - a poetic and considered response to what happened there."
The Strawberries are for the future (2019)
Trailer for a 30 minute documentary about a film maker's relationship with the garden in the shadow of Grenfell Tower and the gardener, Stewart Wallace, who tends the contaminated plot of land, reflecting on when strawberries will once again grow.
A rough cut of the film was premiered at the Portobello Film Festival 2019 at the Gate Cinema, Notting Hill in a programme of curated films called Emotion and Economics.
Jacob Barua, film maker: "This is superb, sublime and poignant Art. Or rather a Eulogy. You have managed to show an immense loss as few have done before. Your greatest achievement in this film is that you have, at all times, kept a veiled and respectful distance from the object of this heartbreaking story. The Tower is almost always obscured by trees in all the seasons of the year. This goes to show that the author did not just record it off the cuff but kept relieving this experience for a long time.
I purposely keep saying anything about the gardener until the last moment, though he is central to your narrative. What a beguiling and unreal man. I had already met this persona in a previous film you made about him when there was no inkling of any inferno yet to occur. What a generous Soul, who would on purpose plant a Secret Garden so youngsters could filch from it. Where everyone is out to protect their property, work, etc, his is made for surreptitious and delicious stealing or is it sharing? He goes on about the house that has a soul. You, the author, never shows us this building that he points towards on several occasions. Do you rather that we imagine and select this place on our own? For this is a film with no questions, no answers, which demures gently at every junction from any pretense of understanding".
Washing Dirty Linen In Public (2019)
The story of women's labour and activism in North Kensington, from laundry to birth control clinic, 1860-1970. Performed by Shelagh Farren, Nina Atesh, Rachele Fregonese, Rebecca Hanser, Mina Temple, Michelle Strutt and Rawleen Evelyn.
The film was screened at the Portobello Film Festival in Sept 2019 in a curated programme that included North Kensington Laundry Blues (1974), directed by Robin Imray; a short film about the campaign to save the Silchester Road bath and wash house that had it's first ever public screening.
Lynn Patterson: "I just watched your film. It's great. I'd imagine it's very true to what life was like working in the Wash House and how the area was during those times for some people. The last part reminded me of when our basement used to get flooded out in Lancaster Road all the time."
Hard Earth (2018)
One family. Three divided people. "What am I to be?"
A short drama starring Tiberius Chis, Jackie Kearns and Michelle Strutt.
Directed by Constantine Gras.
Nominated for Best Drama at the Portobello Film Festival 2018.
Michael Jardine: "I enjoyed it. It felt very naive to me, and funnily enough I remember one of the student films you showed me having the same feeling about it. You mentioned on the credits that it was collaboratively written with the actors and this (with your direction) made it incredibly honest- the naivity is an honest one. It's an attractive quality. You've obviously worked incredibly hard to push yourself to make it, where I guess the documentary films are either easier for you personally or maybe just easier. You're a good film-maker, in a very classic idiom- I think the shots are well chosen and set up and likewise the editing."
The Melodramatic Elephant in the Haunted Castle (2017)
An Arts Council England funded project supported by Southwark Playhouse, The Coronet, Cooltan Arts and the Art Academy.
This is a multi media and site specific arts project about the 147 year history of the Coronet theatre. It is told from the perspective of a Victorian actress that ran the theatre from 1875-1880 and whose ghostly presence haunts the space prior to its demolition as part of the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle area in South London.
This project was researched and developed by Constantine Gras in conjunction with John Whelan and the People's Company of actors. A play was staged at the Coronet on 8 November 2017 with a follow up art exhibition from 9-20 December. Film was a core aspect of the project including a homage to silent movies and horror exploitation films of the 1970s.
Sharlene: "The creative imagination of all involved in this wonderful project for the Coronet, inspired within me the need to petition and advocate for those without a voice. The work beautifully encapsulates a multilateral web of issues from mental health to the loss of our rich history as regeneration rises up to consume the memories of old."
The Forgotten Estate (2016)
An intimate portrait of Lancaster West Estate in North Kensington from the perspective of residents and architect.
High Definition Video, 1 hour.
Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2016 Portobello Film Festival.
Ed Howker, Channel 4 News: "In the midst of this current tragedy it is a mind-altering film to engage with."
This-That (1989, digital remaster 2016)
An alienated student finds mythical solace in a figurine.
Directed by Jacob Barua and starring Constantine Gras. Video, 31 mins.
Restoration funded by a grant from The Centre of International Theatre Development.
Screened at 50th Anniversary event at University of Warwick and Portobello Film Festival, 2016 as a work in progress.
Natalie Marr: "Watching the film, I couldn't help but recall Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet's Last Year in Marienbad, a film in which multiple realities, the past, present and future, the dream world and the real world, co-exist in the same space. This-That doesn't share the formal unity of Marienbad, but it does share its psychic wanderings/wonderings and partiality for contradictions, its out-of-time-ness. Barua mixes an excess of different shooting styles and techniques and at times, the film would certainly benefit from some audio-visual breathing space, but despite this, it is a compelling film that gently demands a second viewing and potentially, further re-configurations from its editors, as a way to further extend some of the themes."
Vision of Paradise (2015)
Vision of Paradise was made while I was the V&A Museum Community Artist in Residence. It is about an artist's journey in search of home, community and art. High-definition video, 28:27 mins.
Original electric guitar soundtrack recorded by Roberto Bove.
Screened at V&A Museum, 2015. Nominated for Best Local Film at Portobello Film Festival, 2015.
Dee Harding: “I very much enjoyed Vision of Paradise! It didn't feel like half-an-hour duration, each section showing something new and fresh whilst building on the preceding 'chapters'. Having an awareness of your thought processes and working method, I had no problem joining the dots. It would be interesting to know how others would see it without knowing much of the subject matter and your involvement in it. But would that matter anyway...not getting the finer points? I think the strength of this piece is that the facts very much take a back seat and the images on their own tell of things that everyone can relate to. The material is very specific but the ideas are universal."
A former nursery in North Kensington has been converted into a temporary artist studio. Five artists reflect on their practice and this is related to the wider history of the area. High-definition video, 12 mins.
Screened as part of West Ten, Fade Out: Louise Blouin Foundation, Portobello Film Festival, 2013.
Jesse Wolpert: "Very much enjoyed the mixture of more straightforward interviews combined with the more surreal sections with milk bottles. I liked the evocation of a place and its history, felt a great fondness for it by the end of the film."
Home is an elegiac exploration of an archive photograph showing the last house demolished for the construction of the Westway (A40 ) flyover in North Kensington, London.
High definition video, 5:22 mins.
Home was commissioned by Latymer Projects for their inaugural exhibition. It was also screened at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Portobello Film Festival and the In Short Festival, Lexi Cinema
group+work / Latymer Projects:
"For ‘Common Ground’ Constantine produced a wonderful short film called ‘Home’ which responded directly to the local area and its history. Constantine is an accomplished filmmaker, which made it a great asset to our inaugural show. Latymer Projects also wanted to engage local audiences with the content of our exhibitions, and we feel Constantine’s film made a real difference to our audience numbers in general. In particular, many local visitors directly cited this work and having met Constantine as the reason for their visit."
Flood Light (2010)
Flood Light is a poetic journey of discovery into the history of the Grand Union Canal and Westway (A40), inter-related transport and built environments in West London. A search through archives and the V&A Museum leads to personal reflections on childhood, identity and the legacy of my father; a Polish refugee who as a carpenter contributed to the rebuilding of post-war London.
High definition video, 12:32 mins.
Flood Light was commissioned for RBKC's InTRANSIT festival and supported by the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Nominated for Best London Film at Portobello Film Festival, 2010.
Also screened at Whitechapel Gallery, London Short Film Festival, London Independent Film Festival, Folly For A Flyover Festival, Shoreditch Festival, Centre for Creative Collaboration, Louise Blouin Foundation.
Judy Greenway, participant in the Flood Light project:
"Your film was very inspiring. I was impressed by how you produced multiple resonating narratives and images in such a short piece, and wove together the various themes in a very subtle way. And it has made me want to revisit an old idea I had about a photography project to do with my own father. So thank you for that."