Our London Lives

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Our London Lives is a 2016 auto-biographical documentary film made by Paul Atherton, who initially began collecting footage as a way to memorialize his time spent with his son. The film premiered at the Museum of London on 8 January 2016 as part of its exhibition "Recording A Life"[1] before being interned into the Museum's permanent collection.[2] The movie examines Atherton's relationship with his son Charles, who lives in Cardiff and was shot in an attempt to prove that London can be a good place to bring up a child, contrary to some opinions that the city was isolating and anti-family.[3]

Footage was shot over a sixteen-year period and was edited from over 200 hours of video footage of Charles's visits with his father on regular holidays.[4] Filming took place entirely in London using a variety of cameras, predominantly the Sony AEX Camcorder, which he placed on display as part of the exhibition at the Museum of London. While shooting the film Atherton had to deal with issues surrounding his chronic fatigue syndrome, with which he was diagnosed in his twenties.[5]

The film was taken into the permanent collection of the Museum of London following its screening in February 2016 and became part of the Museum's online collection in September 2016[6]


The film is composed of footage filmed during Charles Atherton-Laurie's visits with his father Paul. Prior to the start of filming, Paul and Charles's mother had separated and she moved to Cardiff, taking Charles with her. Paul initially intended that the footage would only serve as a simple record of his son's visits to his London home, but became more formal and filmic to ensure that a record remains for the sake of his son's posterity.[7] During each visit the pair would visit various venues, which included restaurants, galleries, museums, cinema, theatre and experience walks and events. Examples of places visited include viewing a performance of Jemima Puddle Duck at the Unicorn Theatre, dining at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and taking in the views from the Shangri-La Hotel in The Shard. The documentary also includes footage of Atherton and his son taking part in the campaign to save the Odeon Cinema in Kensington.[8]

Footage spans a lengthy period in time, starting when Charles is six years old and culminating in his sixteenth birthday. The film shows how each person changes and evolves from their experiences, which strengthens their relationship. Our London Lives has no overlaid narrative instead taking the story from the natural evolution of the video diary.


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