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Grenfell: Steve McQueen

Tower Blocks UK were invited to a screening of Grenfell by Steve McQueen at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park.

In December 2017, 6 months after the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower; filmmaker Steve McQueen took a decision to record the remains of the tower "I knew once the tower was covered up, it would start to leave people's minds. I was determined that it never be forgotten."

In the introductory literature handed out at the exhibition McQueen writes 'The first time I visited Grenfell Tower was in the early nineties. I remember the views from the window and thinking I had never been up this high in London before. The viewpoint was amazing.'

Nearly 30 years later, McQueen asks himself 'how do I engage with this tragedy?' eventually he decides to set off by helicopter to make a film dedicated to the 72 people who died in the fire, the survivors and bereaved.

The film; 24 minutes long and without any narrative, opens on the semi-rural outskirts of London, and moves slowly towards North Kensington with the tower coming into view. The camera circles the tower over and over, revealing sobering images of the burned shell of the building. The viewer can see inside flats, where bags of debris have been piled up and the concrete core of the building exposed. The structural destruction caused by the fire is disturbing in itself, but coupled with dizzying shots and the reality of the human impact of the fire; the precious lives lost, is harrowing.

There's no drama, no music. The film is quite simply a documentary of the horrors and violence that occurred on 14th June 2017. Grenfell was not an accident.


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