Amber's documentaries and dramas chart a unique engagement with communities in the north east of England. The archive also holds a rich collection of associated work.read more...
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Category: Amber Films: Completed Works.
Amber Films 2010
Throughout the 1970s Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen documented the terraced streets of Byker, which were demolished to make way for Ralph Erskine's visionary Byker Wall Estate at the end of that decade. In 2005, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen returned to Byker, initially invited a year or two before by community workers who were using her photographs to explain to asylum seekers the history of place to which UK government dispersal policies had sent them. The estate was to have rehoused the original community intact, but inevitably didn’t.
Amber Films 2008
When Amber founder member and key visionary Murray Martin died in 2007 the nature of the documentary the group was making in County Durham's horsey community the film changed. Recognised as a major figure in British film and photography history, he was loved and revered as a horsey man in the harness racing world. The film became an exploration of a filmmaker who became part of the world he documented; an exploration of how to be in this world.
Amber Films 2007
When Tyneside percussionist Bruce Arthur died in 2002, he left behind an Aladdin’s Cave of instruments, gathered from the four corners of the Earth – drums, gongs, wood blocks, marimbas, squeaky hammers, sound sculptures and much, much more. The collection occupied the whole bottom floor of his house and he left it all to his friend and ex-pupil Brendan Murphy. Amber’s film explores the story and how it led to the setting up of The Rumba Palace, a place for rehearsals, workshops and the sheer joy of hitting things well. And it follows sound sculptor Adrian Sander as he begins to make Bruce’s last ‘commission’, a thing of brass and bamboo: The Bamboozler. As Bruce’s wife Sue says, ‘Bruce liked to bamboozle people.’
Amber Films 2005
Emma, a mother at fifteen, now in her early twenties, wants some kind of normality for herself and her two daughters. Local gold dealer Ray tries to steer an addict son back towards an interest in harness racing. Barry, single father and ex-youth worker, keeps an eye on the streets, fearful for his son Callum. "You used to come across the kids you worked with in the court round-ups," he observes. "You're getting them in the obituaries now." When, one last time, Emma tries to get her partner Darren off heroin, Barry is drawn into a chain of events that begins to threaten the relationship he has built with his son.
Amber Films 2003
Available to educational institutions only.
Amber Films 2001
Like Father portrays a family in crisis, focusing on the dislocations of grandfather, father and son. Pigeon man Arthur Elliott, a 70 year-old whose working life in the pit gave him a strong sense of identity and pride, is losing his allotment to the local authority's coastal redevelopment scheme. Working as a trumpet player, a teacher and a club singer, as well as running an agency for club acts, 40 year old, ex-miner, Joe Elliott can just about scrape a living out of his music, but he is losing his wife. 10 year old Michael Elliott, who is living with the pit village folklore and the wreckage of the coal industry, is left to grapple with his own realities. Each of the three generations is struggling to come to terms with the past and find the ties that bind them. The three separate, but essentially integrated worlds, unfold against the rich and extraordinary backdrop of East Durham's landscapes and locations.
Amber Films 1997
Like many women who were active during the miner's strike, it is May Murton (Charlie Hardwick) who has been left to clean up the mess. The failure of her marriage and the disintegration of her community have shattered both her personal and political beliefs. Her teenage children, Dale and Becky, (Darren Bell and Katja Roberts) are increasingly out of control, and her estranged husband Tony ( Brian Hogg) has flown the nest to take up residence in the allotments perched high above the town. Tony views the town from above, realizing what has been lost, but, like many former miners, stripped of the capacity to re-engage with a society which has treated him so cruelly.
Amber Films 1995
Amber was invited by youth workers in East Durham to make a film exploring the lack of facilities for young people in the area, as part of a fundraising campaign. One of the youth workers, Barry Gough, a key figure in the film, went on to help Amber in the making of The Scar (1997) and Like Father (2001). As part of Coalfield Stories, he and fellow Seaham single parent father Paul Herron, collaborated with photographer Peter Fryer on the development of Fathers (2001). He and his son Callum then took on lead roles in the film Shooting Magpies(2005). His daughter Aimee helped photographer Karen Robinson develop All Dressed Up (2005), also part of Coalfield Stories.
Amber Films 1995
The film is set within a harness racing fraternity and explores the conflict between urban and rural values through the medium of an evolving relationship between father and son.
Amber Films & Studio Neitoperho, Finland 1994
Perhaps the freedom I wanted most, was the freedom not to know which journeys I might embark on in my life, and where they might take me. And like so many others, perhaps I had to leave in order to find just what I had left behind. Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen