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Films illuminate our past.

TODAY marks the beginning of a four-day short film festival in Gateshead.

Taking place between today and Friday at St Mary's Heritage Centre, the presentations by Amber Films celebrate the industry of the Tyne and the people who made their living there.

Alongside the films, a member of the Amber collective will be there to talk about the process of documentary filmmaking, Amber as an organization, and their film archive.

This will be a chance to explore a part of our heritage captured on film by a unique collective of filmmakers over the last 45 years, and to meet and hear the unfolding of the process and the history of the collective.

Amber Film and Photography Collective came together in 1968, moving to Newcastle the following year with a commitment to documenting working class communities.

At the time of huge changes, Amber set about recording the disappearing working lives.

Despite the challenges of working in marginalised communities, Amber's work is always celebratory and revels in the skills and creativity of the people at the heart of the film.

In any project, Amber believes the first commitments are to individual lives, a particular landscape or a set of concerns. Over four evenings, here are the superb films on show | Tuesday. January 26, 7pm, Launch (10 minutes, 1973) This film records the breathtaking scale of the Swan Hunter-built World Unicorn as it emerges then disappears at the end of a street in Wallsend.

"A tone poem on working life with a distinctive combination of loving nostalgia and political protest," said the Sunday Times of the film. Amber will also show Making the Tyne Documentaries (29 minutes, 2007), a film exploring the story with filmmakers Murray Martin and Peter Roberts and the Tyneside industrial historian Stafford Linsley.

| Wednesday 27, 7pm, Bowes Line (28 minutes, 1975) A beautiful documentation of the rope-worked railway and the men who operated it. Partly designed by George Stephenson in the 1820s, the Bowes Line latterly carried coal from Kibblesworth Colliery to Jarrow Staiths on the River Tyne.

| Thursday 28, 7pm, Last Shift (17 minutes, 1976) When Adamsez, the sanitary-ware manufacturers, went out of business in 1975, this brickworks in Swalwell, its practices pre-dating the Industrial Revolution, was one of the lesser-known casualties. Amber reemployed the men for one last week to make the film.

| Friday 29, 7pm, Glassworks (20 minutes, 1977) A wordless record of the extraordinary, measured ballet of an industrial glassblowing works at Lemington, from the hand-drawing of capillary tubes to the slow process of making the huge refractory pots, culminating in the dramatic pot change.

| Amber Films: Documentary Short Film Festival takes place at St Mary's Heritage Centre, Oakwellgate, Gateshead. PS3 tickets available nightly on the door include film and talk. PS10 ticket for all 4 nights available in advance Box Office: 0191 433 4699, or buy online at


A still from Launch (1973) from Amber Films. The launch of the World Unicorn at Swan Hunter

A still from Bowes Line (1975) by Amber Films

A still from Last Shift (1976) by Amber Films

A still from Glassworks (1977) by Amber Films

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2016
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