The buzzword of modern London is gentrification. Vibrant communities and entire estates that were largely ignored, or deemed too boisterous for the middle-classes, are now seen as opportunities for wealthy real estate developers. East London is now an overpriced trendy hotspot for the bourgeois hipsters and it looks like Brixton is the next upcoming area. In short, it’s a plight that modern working class Londoners constantly face.

A Moving Image sees the stifled artist (filmmaker, poet, and actress) Nina (Tanya Fear) return to her old community in Brixton after a long absence, having spent some time living in the trendy East End of Shoreditch. Part-horrified by the changes that have undergone in her old community, she is soon painted as a symbol of gentrification by those around her.

The film sets out to explore Nina’s struggles with her own complicity in gentrification, noting that her art piece, which is to highlight the changing face of Brixton, isn’t made for regular folk of the community, but is more of an indulgent experiment. Also, how her spacious two-storey apartment is unlike anything in the area. Unfortunately, the film pushes that aside and instead focuses on a nondescript ‘they’ to be the villainous gentrifiers. A missed opportunity to see where the lines are drawn.

A Moving ImageWhile the film’s fictional aspects may be flawed, it’s the nonfictional aspects that the film transcends into something much more profound. Director Shola Amoo uses Nina as a proxy to explore the film’s key theme of gentrification. Nina begins to record local protesters and social activists to bring her art piece to life. At first, she records the activity at the Reclaim Brixton demonstration, an event that took place in London in April 2015. The purpose was to protest against the social cleansing by showcasing the diversity of the community.

As Nina does further research and records real-life footage of people blaring out anti-gentrification slogans on the streets of Brixton, she grows a greater understanding of the plight of the people. The real-life footage of a Peckham man’s vitriolic yet impassioned plea to maintain Peckham’s identity, as he’s concerned ‘it’s gonna become trendy like Brixton,’ is tremendously moving. Any Londoner will tell you that this is a real fear.

This is clearly a passion piece by Amoo as the multitude of filmmaking styles set out to blur fact and fiction. Amoo interweaves documentary filmmaking, fictional storytelling, and performance art to explore the complex issue of gentrification. Of the three filmmaking aesthetics, it will be the documentary aspect that audiences will remember most.

A Moving Image is released on April 28th