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Alistair Oldham

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 editing software.

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.”


Alistair Oldham
Alistair Oldham

Alistair Oldham
watch 'The Bristol Bike Project' movie