Public House - Sarah Turner

“Its combination of the choreographic and choral offer a dazzlingly unique form in which to make the collective cinematic”

Sophie Mayer, BFI Sight & Sound

'Public House tells the story of the Ivy House Pub in Peckham. Slated to be sold to property developers in 2012, the local community triumphantly came together to save the pub from closure. This documentary is an inspirational story of social resilience and the power of communities working together. 

Made in collaboration with some of the many users of the pub, the film features their voices, poems and performances, as well as key moments in the community takeover which led the Ivy House to become one of the UK’s first co-operatively owned pubs and the country’s first‘asset of community value’. Through dance, poetry and song the film builds into an exhilarating participatory opera of multi-layered voices telling a tale of social resilience in the face of creeping gentrification. 

It culminates with director Sarah Turner’s own playful reimagining of William Blake’s vision of angels on Peckham Rye, as the Ivy House community take to the streets in a communal celebration of human creativity and resilience. 

Originally premiered at the London Film Festival, Public House was nominated for the prestigious Grierson Award in 2016. 

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This site was our forum for community liaison and updates and documents some of the production processes. '

'Sarah trained at St Martin’s School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art. She is an artist, filmmaker, writer, curator and academic. Her feature films include Ecology, 97mins, 2007, Perestroika, 118mins, 2009, (which featured in Tate Britain’s major survey: Assembly), and Perestroika:Reconstructed, conceived and executed as a gallery work (Carroll Fletcher Gallery, London, May 2013). Her latest feature, Public House, 96 mins, premiered in the Documentary competition, LFF 2015, nominated for the Grierson Award. Public House has been re-mastered in 2016 for wider audiences.
Ecology, Perestroika and Public House are characterized by explorations of technologies, experimental approaches to writing and an engagement with experiences of narrative, immersion and embodiment within the long form film. Together, these films form a trilogy of concerns that are broadly linked through ideas of ecologies: psychic, environmental and social.

Turner’s short film, CUT, 18 mins, 2000, was commissioned by Channel 4 and A Life in a Day with Helena Goldwater, 20 mins, 1996, and Sheller Shares Her Secret, 8 mins, 1994, both headlined Midnight Underground when they were broadcast on Channel 4. Sarah has had feature scripts commissioned by the BFI, Film Four Lab and Zephyr Films. Amongst other curatorial projects, Turner produced (with Jon Thomson) the launch programme for Lux Cinema in 1997; Hygiene and Hysteria: The body desired and the body debased for Arts Council England and programmes for Tate and the National Film Theatre.
Sarah is currently Reader in Fine Art and Director of Research in the School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent.

An excerpt from Perestroika, a film written, directed, edited, and produced by Sarah Turner ©2009. The excerpt is posted here with the artist's permission. (