A film that fuses visuals from unexpected locations, with interview footage from the true characters of the A13, providing testimony to the history, the myths and the folklore of this much-travelled route from London’s East End to the Essex coast.
As the audience is taken on a journey from Victorian Whitechapel, out along the Thames corridor to the seaside quirkiness of Southend, this ‘documentary-road-movie’ challenges our understanding of the English landscape.
The film focuses on the overlooked, the hidden, and the disregarded, and seeks out the beautiful and the bizarre along this neglected stretch of land. Whether it be an original Hawksmoor church in Limehouse or a giant inflatable Ronald McDonald in Dagenham, we are treated to new ways of seeing along this congested commuter route.
The characters that live and work on the road explain what the A13 means to them. Original residents of the country’s first Chinatown deconstruct the myth of Fu Manchu, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg talks about the ‘Beckton Alps’ and Kubrick’s staging of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ there, and Tory MP David Amess describes the majesty of the Thames Estuary.
Others in a diverse line-up of contributors include Pakistani restauranteurs, vicars, Ford union reps, Tilbury dock-workers, West Indian allotment-holders, and lay-by burger van proprietors.
From the colossal electric pylons resembling alien creatures striding across Rainham marshes, to the small flowering weeds breaking through the paving of a 6-lane flyover, this film provides a striking reminder of our relationship with the environment, and testimony to the ever-changing landscapes of this fast-developing area.
Film-makers: Stuart Shahid Bamforth & Rayna Nadeem.