“Lift” — A Portrait of Life in a London High Rise

How do you ade­quate­ly por­tray life in a high-rise build­ing? Lon­don film­mak­er Marc Isaacs found a rather uncon­ven­tion­al answer to this ques­tion. He installed him­self inside the lift/elevator of a high rise on the East End of Lon­don. And for ten hours a day, over two months, he would ride up and down with the res­i­dents, with his cam­era point­ing at them. It is fas­ci­nat­ing to see how the res­i­dents react to him being there — some are sus­pi­cious or even hos­tile at the begin­ning. Oth­ers open up about their per­son­al lives and their dai­ly life in the build­ing. And then oth­ers bring him some­thing to eat, a chair to sit down on, or even lit­tle presents. The result is a mov­ing and “qui­et­ly fas­ci­nat­ing med­i­ta­tion on the mun­dan­i­ties of Lon­don life.” Writ­ing about the film, the Times Online put it best: “Isaacs has an astound­ing gift for get­ting peo­ple to open up to him and he uses film the way a skilled artist uses paint. The result is beau­ti­ful, heart­break­ing and pro­found­ly humane.”

Here’s some bonus mate­r­i­al: a review of “Lift” and Isaacs’ two oth­er short doc­u­men­taries “Calais” and “Trav­ellers,” a Sun­day Times arti­cle enti­tled “Marc Isaacs on his doc­u­men­tary art,” and an inter­view with Mark by The Doc­u­men­tary Film­mak­ers Group dfg.

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

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