Film Archive

The Catalogue

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.


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Category: Amber Films: Completed Works.

Letters To Katja

Amber Films & Studio Neitoperho, Finland 1994

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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

The Writing in the Sand

Amber Films 1991

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Constructed entirely from black & white photographs, the film evokes the magic of an urban family's day out on the windswept beaches of north East England. It is packed with action, invention and surprise: bodiless heads sticking out of the sand; teenagers jumping in the sea fully clothed; family picnicking under a blanket. Memory and fantasy intermingle with expressions of intoxicating freedom and quizzical encounters with nature.

Dream On

Amber Films 1991

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When she arrives from Donegal on her ramshackle motor bike and sidecar, Peggy O'Rourke certainly puts the cat among the pigeons in North Shields. Her son, Bert, the loan shark who runs the pub, and has his finger in several pies, is not thrilled to see her. The mysterious Kevin watches her constantly. But the women in the pub darts team warm to her immediately, especially Julie, Rita and Kathy, beset with problems in their own lives, and looking for answers.

In Fading Light

Amber Films 1989

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When Amber film and photography collective decided to work in North Shields, the group bought a pub. When it wanted to make a film about the town’s fishing industry, it bought the Sally, a 63 foot anchor seine netter. Actors coming for auditions found themselves at sea for days, gutting fish. When the story required a storm sequence, cast, crew and fishermen set sail, into the teeth of a force 9 gale, tripods anchored to the deck. Writer Tom Hadaway had a lifetime’s experience on the fish quay. Filmmakers and actors brought a commitment to authenticity that was almost heroic. In Fading Light captures the Shields fishing industry on the edge of its decline, a beautifully shot film about work and community.

Shields Stories

Amber Films (Current Affairs Unit) 1988

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Aimed at highlighting a variety of social issues within a soap format, these short dramas were developed specifically around the onesAmber saw confronting the lives of people in North Shields during its residency in the town. They are linked to territory explored in The Privatisation Tapes and, later, in Dream On. They were originally made to play on video screens in waiting rooms and other public spaces, but were eventually rejected by North Tyneside Council, which was going to show them.

From Marks & Spencer to Marx and Engels

Amber Films 1988

Growing out of a collaboration with DEFA, the East German film organisation, who made From Marx & Engels to Marks & Spencer on Tyneside, the film explores daily life in the East German shipbuilding and fishing town of Rostock and the questions facing the filmmakers as they documented the community. On location, Amber would mysteriously find shops bursting with produce, a tendency it counteracted by mysteriously time-consuming set-ups that allowed the shelves to empty.

T Dan Smith

Amber Films 1987

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An experimental mix of thriller and documentary, subtitled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Utopia, the film explores the scandal that centred on the 1960s Leader of Newcastle City Council, The Mouth of the Tyne, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment in 1971 for corruption. Undoubtedly a dynamic and visionary politician, Smith handled the Public Relations affairs of architect John Poulson, who won building design contracts by bribing City Councillors.

Double Vision: Boxing for Hartlepool

Amber Films 1986

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George Bowes was a professional boxer whose career spanned the economic boom years of the late fifties and sixties. He was also a face worker at Blackhall Colliery in Co. Durham during the period of Roben's ‘rationalisation’ of the mining industry. Despite his acknowledged skill and effort, and against all predictions, George's ambition to win a title was never realised, but his aspirations have been fulfilled a generation later by the young boxers he trains at his own gym in Hartlepool. In one year George and John Feeney both held British Titles and Stuart Lithgow a Commonwealth Title.

The Privatisation Tapes

Amber Films (Current Affairs Unit) 1986

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  1. The Awareness Campaign (20 mins); 2. Value for Money? (16 mins); 3. Competitive Tender (16 mins); 4. The Darlington Tape (15 mins); 5. The Ingham Tape (15 mins); 6. The Public Good (8 mins)... As the Conservative government unrolled its programme of privatisation the tapes looked at the prospects for local authority and hospital workers whose jobs were under threat. Made by Amber’s Current Affairs Unit, it was part both of the group’s engagement with the unions and with North Tyneside.

The Box

Amber Films 1986

A short animated film which attempts to express the feelings of fear and isolation created by the new urban environment as seen through the eyes of an elderly woman. Part of the work of Amber’s Current Affairs Unit, it grew not only out of the group’s concerns with city centre redevelopment and re-housing, but also out of its engagement with a critique of the media and the effects of the sensationalising of urban crime.