University of Cambridge > > CRASSH > Precarious lives: inequalities in health through the lens of the filmmaker

Precarious lives: inequalities in health through the lens of the filmmaker

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Join us to view and discuss the acclaimed 2019 film Sorry We Missed You with the film’s Director Ken Loach. We are fortunate also to have secured Professor Robert Gordon (Centre for Film and Screen) and Gordon Harold (Professor of the Psychology of Education and Mental Health) both from the University of Cambridge. Robert will set the scene as a leading expert on the important early social-realist film Bicycle Thieves (1948, director Vittorio de Sica). Gordon will present current evidence on how household economic stress affects family dynamics and mental health and the implications for policy.

This rare afternoon will appeal to those interested in the development of the social realism film genre over the last century, in interdisciplinary studies of inequalities in health and a commitment to policy development and action.

The two films follow the lives of families contending with the everyday realities of economic stress and how these pressures impact on wellbeing at the individual, family and relationship levels Both are part of the ‘social-realism’ film movement that show and tell compelling stories set amongst poor and aspiring working-class families and filmed on location, often using non-professional actors.

The circumstances of the difficult economic and moral conditions of post-World War II Italy in “The Bicycle Thieves” stand interesting comparison with those of “Sorry We Missed You” and the present times; exploring our current zero-hours gig economy and its effect on families.

We invite attendance from all those interested including people with lived experience of these circumstances; academics from across the arts and science- including film makers and historians, sociologists, educationalists and psychologists and policy makers.

Together we will compare perspectives to better understand the scope of social reality films in reflecting and informing evidence and moving it forward into policy. In particular, we will think about how these films can help us to understand the social origins of mental health difficulties in families and policy to alleviate them.

We aim to develop creative relationships between people who may not often have the opportunity to discuss these topics together; they include those with experiences overlapping those portrayed in the films, those interested in the development of the social realism film genre over the last century and all those committed to studying and reducing inequalities in physical and mental health.


This talk is part of the CRASSH series.

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