The future of social housing is threatened by the AC30 Housing Bill. Set in London's East End, a trio of art students are eager to raise awareness about their neighbourhood, especially the lives of tenants and people who work on the estate. Dear Babylon is the final film in the 'No News Today' social housing trilogy. —Ayo Akingbade

Ayo Akingbade's newest film comes after a string of consistently excellent short form works made over the past several years. Dear Babylon feels like the filmmaker is taking several steps forward at the same time. While the film continues her project of focusing on social housing, it does so through not only through news footage, archival materials and interviews, but importantly establishes its urgency through narrative and fictional elements.

The film begins with the introduction of the fictional 'AC30 Housing Bill', which states that London tenants renting from a housing association must pay a flat fee of £18,000 to their landlords to continue their tenancy. This provocation sets the narrative in motion: we're transported to a gauzy, neon-coloured house party, a disco ball swirling lights around the sound of lovers rock. When news comes down about the bill passing, our trio of protagonists—Ada, Jazz and Rooney—mobilise to interview their neighbours and create a film on the situation. (Though Jazz asks: 'How is a film going to change public opinion? I prefer my riot idea...')

Thus, with Dear Babylon, Akingbade narrativizes her own project, cannily avoiding repeating herself after already creating several films on similar topics. The beautifully-shot film is anything but a standard take on gentrification, and makes the viewer encouraged that the artist will continue to find new forms to further continue working on the important topics which her work has sustained time and again. —Herb Shellenberger

Ayo Akingbade

Ayo Akingbade is an artist and film director based in London. Her 2016 film Tower XYZ received a Special Mention Award at International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and won the inaugural Sonja Savić Award at Alternative Film/Video Festival (Belgrade). Akingbade's films Street 66, A is for Artist and Dear Babylon comprise thesocial housing trilogy entitled No News Today. She is a recipient of the Sundance Ignite Fellowship and exhibited in 'New Contemporaries'. Ayo is a graduate of London College of Communication and is currently studying at Royal Academy Schools.

Filmography

Dear Babylon (2019), A is for Artist (2018), Street 66 (2018), Tower XYZ (2016), In Ur Eye (2015)