The Swedenborg Film Festival, a free afternoon of documentaries and discussion, is back in Bloomsbury again this weekend.
Launched in 2010, it aims to explore “the singular legacy of the Swedish philosopher, scientist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)”.
With that in mind it shows the work of international filmmakers who are engaging with themes similar to those that energized Swedenborg.
This year entrants have been invited to explore the concept of ‘topographies’— a notion encountered in the work of Iain Sinclair, Andrew Kötting, Emanuel Swedenborg and John Rogers. And the centrepiece is Rogers’ new documentary London Overground.
“My film follows Iain Sinclair retracing the steps of the epic one-day 35-mile schlep from his book of the same name”, says Rogers, author of This Other London — Adventures in the Overlooked City. “The original walk was also in the company of regular collaborator Kötting but in the reverse order, starting in the morning at Haggerston Station and trailing the gingerline clockwise around its newly completed circuit returning to Hackney at night.”
It was Sinclair himself who suggested the idea of making the film after Rogers originally interviewed him about the book. “I immediately started making mental calculations of the logistics,” says Rogers, “how many batteries and memory cards I’d need, how many cans of Stella Artois to lubricate my dodgy left knee.”
Thankfully the group decided to span the filming over the course of a year. “The idea was to bring in other voices from the book: Bill Parry-Davies of Open Dalston, Chris Petit, director of cult road movie Radio On and author of Berlin Noir fiction, and Kötting dressed as a Straw Bear to stalk the junction on the Old Kent Road where he nearly died in a motorbike accident.
The landscape of Overground moves through a “shifting territory” of London, the walks forming a “series of psychic mappings”, as the boys follow the railway from Haggerston over the river to Rotherhithe, right round to Willesden Junction, back down to Clapham and Battersea, across to Dalston and Whitechapel, and south again to Brixton – devoid a stop on the railway, but a “key nodal point” in Sinclair’s own narrative.
“What emerges in both the film and book is a tiny little map of what is happening now in London,” says Rogers.
Worth a detour.
More info and how to get free tickets here