An explosion of urban sound and colour, this ninety-minute documentary tells the story of one corner of North London, but it is the story of many junctions and communities in London today. As developers venture further and further afield to find ‘affordable’ pockets of London to lay claim to, the indoor market (also referred to as Pueblito Paisa) above Seven Sisters station has been in their collective sights for some time. Drawn into a different world – a hidden world in many respects – the film recounts the story of the other and the threat to a way of life, a safe haven for cultural expression, people’s ability to earn a living and to be connected.
I had the opportunity to view the film at the impressive Hackney Picturehouse where we had an audience with the filmmakers Klearjos Eduardo Papanicolaou and Marios Kleftakis following the film.
The filmmakers take us on a journey into the past, present and future of the market traders and the community members who they serve. We encounter locals with roots from Latin America and the Caribbean and come to understand and empathise with a number of characters who tell their stories of migration and settlement in the UK. The market – full of food vendors, hair salons and advice centres – represents London as I’ve always felt I’d experienced it: a tolerant, quirky and transnational space where we communicate and miscommunicate, but ultimately successfully negotiate meaning and are better for it. In a post Brexit and pre Trump world, perhaps my view of London is backward and naïve.
The film builds to a rather stressful and uncomfortable scene where the council representatives and developers meet the locals and campaigners. What is to become of the marketers, the community? The film could have been a bit more balanced in providing information on the arguments for redevelopment, yet, at the same time, the film doesn’t tell us what to think.
As the filmmakers put forth in the discussion, the focus of the film is disenfranchisement and inequality – as opposed to gentrification. That is, we get a glimpse into what it is the closure of the market could mean, the faces and places of those who will suffer further, not benefit.
Somewhat run down and propped up, the viewer was left thinking, is there a middle ground? Is there a way forward that preserves the integrity of the market yet improves it at the same time and uses the uninhabitable spaces?
The film leaves us feeling somewhat uplifted, yet appropriately cynical that the wrecking ball is on its way, followed by high street chains and blandness.
On the night, the filmmakers were unsure of the future of the film in terms of 2017 screenings and whether a downloadable version would be made available. Keep an eye on the film’s website for further information – http://www.sevensistersmarketfilm.com/ – as this is an important film that deserves local and national attention.
Words: Julie Ann Andreshak