Part guided tour, part film night, A Wall is a Screen leads its audience through the streets of cities across the world, from Berlin to Cork, Austin to Vilnius, stopping at previously unnoticed locations where shorts of different genres are projected in a high impact yet lo-fi approach using handcarts and a portable generator. After each film, the equipment is loaded up and the group quickly moves on to the next wall.
As a film night, the project can have surprising effects. A film corresponds with the screening location and the screening location with the film. The location and passers-by seem to interact with the film, become part of it. Street noises seem to have an impact on the action and the crowd increases in size as passers-by attach themselves and call or text friends to join in, a Pied-Piper like and hugely diverse following.
Stag parties, hen nights, film fans, the drunk and dazed, club kids, office workers, culture vultures, commuters and local history buffs all formed part of our rolling human snowball that swelled to some 200+ as we fearlessly marched through some of the city’s less salubrious backstreets and dark alleys, pausing at seven sites as apartment dwellers piled onto their balconies to join us in our adventure.
Working with the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University, this UK premiere included localised footage that peeled back layers of inner-city history: including the now-closed Oxford Road Odeon Cinema to footage of the Coronation celebrations in Piccadilly Gardens and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s visit to the city in 1961 for an open-topped limousine parade.
The event formed part of Urban Screens Manchester, a conference and festival exploring creative use and non-commercial content in programming an increasing proliferation of urban screens and projection-based installations. Curated by Susanne Jaschko with a four-day art and event programme produced by Bren O’Callaghan and Marie Sleigh in partnership with Cornerhouse, the BBCand Manchester City Council.
Additional thanks to Marion Hewitt and staff at the North West Film Archive, A Wall is a Screen team (Kerstin Budde, Peter Stein, Sabine Horn, Sven Schwarz, Tom Schlösser, Antje Haubenreisser) and KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg.