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N21 Film Festival – Day 4: Dreams of a Life

Friday 6 July 2012, by Katie Hogan

As I walked up the red carpet and was directed into the church hall behind United Reformed Church in Winchmore Hill, I knew this was going to be unlike any other film festival I’d attended.

The atmosphere of the festival was one of “community”. Everyone seemed to know each other and even though I was technically an outsider I felt very much part of this community. The setting was very unconventional right down to the seating; ordinary church hall chairs transformed into festival seating by adding a cushion. Fitting in with the sense of community, the local pub, The Queen’s Head provided a pop up bar serving drinks and Mediterranean artisan foods was provided by Palmavera Fine Foods.

The film screened that evening was the documentary, ‘Dreams of a Life’ directed by Carol Morely, the story of a woman, Joyce Vincent, who died in her bedsit in North London in 2003 and whose body was only discovered three years later. The producer, Cairo Cannon introduced the film and stayed for the Q &A afterwards. Shortly before the main event, a short film was screened about the impending closure of the Gun, Fishing Tackle and Motorcycle shop in Enfield Town, directed by Michael Taylor, who also worked on ‘Dreams of a Life’.

When filmmaker Carol Morely saw the headline ‘Woman dead in flat for 3 years’ she did extensive research into the life of Joyce Carol Vincent who died in her bedsit above a busy shopping centre in 2000 but whose body wasn’t discovered until 2003. She was surrounded by Christmas presents she had been wrapping with the television still on. The interviews with people from her past were heartbreaking as they wondered disbelievingly how she ended up dying alone. The reconstruction used to mirror their comments and stories was particularly effective. Up and coming actress Zawe Ashton, previously seen in Fresh Meat, is excellent as Joyce whom she bears an uncanny resemblance to.

I can see why this heartbreaking and intriguing story was chosen to be screened at this festival. Communities are now more fragmented and people live increasingly isolated lives. Hopefully, films like these might go some way to raise awareness.

‘Dreams of a Life’ was a brilliant film and perfectly suited to the spirit of this new and charming film festival.

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