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28 October 2014

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Manchester International Festival

A scene from Kapital
A scene from Kapital

A Kapital idea

The darker side of urban life is one that we know all too well in Manchester, but while it’s been captured in music on many occasions, across other art forms, depictions aren’t as prevalent, which is why Greg Hall’s film Kapital is a must-see.

Commissioned as part of the Manchester International Festival, the film weaves a mosaic of the untold stories, folklore, fairy tales and gritty realities of life in a modern city, using Manchester as its backdrop, as Greg explains:

Greg Hall
Greg Hall

"It’s not 24 Hour Party People, it’s not going ‘This Is Manchester!’ But it shows parts of Manchester that wouldn’t normally get shown and it tells a universal story that Manchester is the stage for, but what’s playing out is speaking to everyone.

"It’s a cross-section of characters that interweave over the course of one day. They’re all characters on the edge. It’s kind of a twist of social realism with elements of fantasy and horror, and the whole film is a tapestry, drawing things together and driving it from morning to night.

"It looks at the untold stories, the lives we don’t often hear about that aren’t shown in your typical film or everyday newspaper. It looks at the crevices of society and human nature, and Manchester is a great city for that. It has so many sides to it and this worked so well with the city, so many themes in the city fed into the film.

A scene from Kapital
A scene from Kapital

"I went [to Manchester] with the objective that I didn’t just want to be a guy coming up from London making my thoughts on what this city should be. I really wanted to connect with the people who were saying something, hence I worked with groups like UHC and communities like the Red Bricks in Hulme to find people who had an opinion on the city and show me sides of it that you wouldn’t get in a tourist guide."

Relentlessly new

This being a commission for the MIF, the emphasis for Greg’s work was to make something new and original, something that he is certain he’s achieved for a number of reasons.

"I’d say nothing in this country is being made like this film. It’s hard to describe where this film lies. It’s a fiction piece, but it’s arthouse, it’s leftfield, and because of the music, it transcends language so it’s very much a film that’s more of a feeling that pushes you and drags you through this day. It’s relentless; it won’t let the audience breathe.

"I love the idea of blurring those lines, making you sit back as an audience and say 'this is a film, I have to remind myself, this is a film'."
Greg on the way he likes to mess with fiction and reality

"It really draws you in intellectually, you have to think with this film and work with it. It’s one of those films that when you walk away, you’re going to have sit down and have a coffee and chat about it."

What is real?

Kapital’s real success comes from Greg’s way of working with cinema. By his own admission, his films aren’t about escapism, but about messing with the ideas of fiction and reality.

"My attitude to cinema and all culture is that it should make us question our day-to-day reality, so I try and blur the lines between what is real and what is not. Some of the performances are really close to the bone because some of the things that happened in the film happened for the first time on screen, so those reactions, they [the actors] felt them.


"I love the idea of blurring those lines, making you sit back as an audience and say ‘this is a film, I have to remind myself, this is a film’."

Regeneration or gentrification?

Whatever Greg’s film says about the modern urban life, he’s proud that is showing as part of Manchester’s newest piece of that experience, though he does stress that Kapital is an effort to show a warts-and-all view of the city.

"In Manchester, there’s a lot of development. Some people call that regeneration, other people call it gentrification. Some people could see that the festival being set up by the city council and big developers is almost a cultural gentrification. I think that’s quite cynical and I think it’s going to really unite people.

"But it was important for me to know that that was how the festival was set up and that people could be cynical, hence the reason why I really wanted to do something that really showed the other side so that the festival was acceptable and accessible to everyone."

audio Listen to the full interview with Greg Hall >
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Kapital is shown as part of the Manchester International Festival at Cornerhouse and the Zion Arts Centre. For times and dates, check the festival website (linked on the right)

last updated: 19/04/07
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