Open City Docs Review: Songs for the River

I don’t think any of us will ever forget 2021 and the impact that COVID-19 has had on all our lives (even if we sometimes struggle to remember what came before). The lockdown in March changed everything, made us reassess how we live, work and what is really important to us. It has been a shock and at times felt almost surreal. Like many, I’ve become much more aware of the place in which I live, both my home and the surrounding area.

Charlotte Ginsborg lives in a housing co-operative in a converted warehouse on the Thames. During the first lockdown she began filming informal communal singalongs with her neighbours. These are just ordinary people, NHS workers, probation officers, artists, musicians etc. As the seasons change her camera follows their progress, both in terms of how they feel personally and their political opinions. This is documented in Songs for the River.

Songs for the River is a fascinating and vivid portrait of community strength and solidarity during the most testing time since World War II. While it feels strange to watch a film which directly addresses feelings which were shared across the nation, in years to come it will be seen as a vital snapshot of life during a pandemic. It cleverly places the thoughts and feelings of the residents within the events of the time. Songs for the River is an impressive piece of documentary filmmaking and a picture of hope.

Songs for the River screened at Open City Documentary Festival and will be available to watch online.

Previous TIFF Review: Listening to Kenny G
Next TIFF Review: Inexorable

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