Marc Isaacs – Lift: Life in a London High-Rise

2019-11-15 – Feature

Housing, London, Community

Then There Was Us

Our lives are filled with unremarkable moments and the routine of everyday life, uneventful moments that to most seem dull, boring and monotonous – a humdrum existence of where we are now and where we will be tomorrow. In 2001 documentary filmmaker Marc Isaacs installing himself inside the lift of a high-rise block of council flats focused on this mundanity; observing residents as they go about their daily business, producing one of the most affecting accounts of life in a London high-rise.

As each of the residents enter the lift, it becomes fascinating to watch their reactions to a man with a camera patiently filming, some are curious, others are suspicious and some try ignore that Isaacs is even there. Throughout the film a number of recurring faces begin to open up with stories of their lives and notes on their daily life, creating an intimate narrative of the people residing in this London block of flats. We see their interactions with Isaacs change through time becoming more comfortable, some even enjoying the presence of a camera; with this, a glimpse into their daily lives, their interactions with each other and the perfect representation of British society captured in this microcosm. Marc Isaacs Lift is one of the most powerfully honest and simple documentaries focusing on the beauty of the mundane; a fly on the wall approach that captures the unremarkable moments of life in modern times. As one YouTube comment put it – “All the CGI explosions, beasts and action in the world could never be as compelling as this.”

Since 2001 Marc Isaacs has made more than 10 creative documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4. His films have won Grierson, Royal Television Society and BAFTA awards as well as numerous international film festival prizes. In 2006 he had a retrospective at the prestigious Lussas Documentary film festival in France and his work has been included in numerous documentary books and academic studies. In 2008, Marc received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London for his documentary work. Marc is a guest tutor at the London Film School, the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway University. His latest film ‘Outside the Court’ recently screened as part of BBC Four’s Justice season.

Watch the film here.

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