Alistair Oldham’s two recent documentary films “The
Bristol Bike Project” and “Bonnington
Square”, have been screened at over
50 film festivals internationally, including at venues in New York,
Tokyo, Milan, Madrid, San Francisco, Prague, Munich and Los Angeles.
Between them the films have also been translated into fourteen languages
and have won awards in Germany, Spain and Slovakia.
His most recent film “Invisible Airs”
follows the work of digital media artists YOHA
and explores the increasingly dominant role of the computerized database
in modern society.
“The computerized database is fundamentally changing society.
From communication, to government, transport, shopping, friendship,
health, education, narrative and even the way we watch film, the database
is radically transforming our lives. And yet we are only barely aware
of its existence, we don't really know what a database is like electricity,
it's pervasive and all around us, but we cannot actually see it.
Digital media artists YOHA
set about making the database visible. Working with Bristol City Council
in England, they use local government expenditure to explore the relationship
between the database, power and expenditure. Turning the pounds sterling
of expenditure into the pounds per square inch of pneumatic pressure,
they make a suite of engineered mechanical contraptions : a Potato
Cannon, an Old People Pneumatic Floor Polisher, an Expenditure Riding
Saddle and a Library Book Stabber. But as they tour these contraptions
around Bristol, they become embroiled in the more visceral realities
of the city, in the form of the Royal Wedding, local anti Tesco riots
and the censorship of a local outdoor cinema.
Documentary is such a fundamental and valuable way of filmmakers being
able to interpret the world around them and as a medium it can literally
be turned on just about any aspect of reality that you care to mention.
It’s completely different to making fiction, as you can make
a documentary film with a minimal crew of two or three people and
maybe a Z7 camera, some radio mics and a laptop computer with some
But the key for me will always be good storytelling, the ability to
organize audiovisual materials into an effective narrative that will
engage an audience at an emotional and almost visceral level.
The other thing is that although we live in an age of media saturation,
so little of it attempts to tell the truth of the increasingly volatile
reality that we live in today, and I think documentary is an art form
that can genuinely engage with the considerable social, cultural and
political challenges of our time.”
Bristol Bike Project' movie