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Bata-ville: We are not afraid of the future

2003 - 2005

Feature film (93 mins) 'Bata-ville: We are not afraid of the future'; preceded by the Bata-ville Travel Agency (an installation in the former Bata shoe factory at East Tilbury, England) and a free coach holiday to Zlin (Czech Republic)

Bata-ville is a bittersweet record of a coach trip to the origins of the Bata shoe empire in Zlin in the Czech Republic. Against the backdrop of regeneration in their local communities, former employees of the now-closed UK shoe factories in East Tilbury (Essex) and Maryport (Cumbria) are led on a journey that begins as a free holiday but soon becomes an opportunity for a collective imagining of what entrepreneur Tomas Bata's maxim "We are not afraid of the future" means for them in 21st century Britain. Inspired by the contrast between the idealism of Bata and the more recent industrial decline of East Tilbury and Maryport, host / directors Pope & Guthrie lead this unorthodox coach party on a journey through Bata's legacy.

Bata-ville continues to screen at arts venues throughout the UK, and was selected to premiere at the prestigious 2005 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

You can now also stream the film to your desktop on Distrify.

"A strange, defiantly unclassifiable work - combining elements of travelogue, documentary and performance piece - Bata-ville takes one of the archetypical aspects of British life, the holiday coach trip, and overlays it with a number of social, cultural and historical preoccupations. Artistic collaborators for over a decade, Pope and Guthrie lead their tour group with a kindly sort of efficiency. There's something endearing about the pair, so groomed and unflappable in their retro-chic outfits - a goofy sense of fun that prevents them from seeming pretentious or merely arch. As filmmakers, too, they demonstrate a serene confidence, an easy familiarity with the medium. Charming is a problematic word, usually invoked to damn with faint praise, yet it seems entirely appropriate here: this is a charming, yet quietly provocative film."

Excerpt from Edinburgh international Film Festival's director Shane Danielson's review

See UK press coverage of the film here in the Guardian and also in the Telegraph here.

You can find the film on Facebook here.

Bata-ville is a Somewhere project by Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie, developed by Commissions East. The film was co-produced by Somewhere, Commissions East and Illumina Digital Ltd. Bata-ville has been supported by funding from Allerdale Borough Council, Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Cultural Foundation, Screen East (through RIFE Lottery) and Thurrock Council, with an in kind contribution from the Czech Centre (London).

Photo credit: John Podpadec