Dr Esther Johnson’s film ‘Asunder’ at the Barbican and on tour

Still from Esther Johnson's Asunder

Asunder is a film by Sheffield Hallam Reader of Media Arts Dr Esther Johnson, telling the story of what happened to an English town during the First World War, with almost all of its men fighting abroad and its women and children left behind. The North East was in the front line, thanks to its shipyards and munitions factories.

Using archive and contemporary footage and audio, Asunder collages the stories of people from Tyneside and Wearside to uncover just what life was like on the home front, with bombs falling on Britain for the first time, conscientious objectors sentenced to death, and women working as doctors, tram conductors and footballers. The narrative moves from an Edwardian golden era, in which sport grew in popularity and aircraft and cars pointed to a bright new future, to a war that horrifically reversed this progress. In the Battle of the Somme, British, French and German armies fought one of the most traumatic battles in military history. Over the course of just four months, more than one million soldiers were captured, wounded or killed in a confrontation of unimaginable horror.

Asunder features a soundtrack composed by Sunderland’s Mercury-nominated Field Music and Newcastle’s Warm Digits, performed with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and The Cornshed Sisters. The narration for the film is voiced by journalist Kate Adie, with the actor Alun Armstrong as the voice of the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette.
It has been co-commissioned by Sunderland Cultural Partnership and 14–18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by The National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sunderland Business Improvement District, Culture Bridge North East and Sir James Knott Trust.

Follow Asunder on Twitter @1916asunder.

Upcoming screenings:

12 February 2017
Barbican, Milton Court Concert Hall, London, 20:00, Performance with live music.

20 February 2017
HOME, Manchester, plus Q&A with Esther Johnson and Bob Stanley, 18:20.

Community film screenings:

18 January 2017
Back on the Map Community Centre Hendon, Sunderland 14:00

15 February 2017
Pop Recs LTD Sunderland, 18:30

17 March 2017
Whitburn Methodist Church South Tyneside, 19:00

19 April 2017
Arts Centre Washington Sunderland, 13:30 and 19:00.

26 April 2017
Holmeside Coffee Sunderland, 18:00

7 May 2017
Phoenix Theatre Blyth, 19:30

TBC 2017
National Glass Centre Sunderland

Dr Esther Johnson (MA Royal College of Art) is an artist and filmmaker working at the intersection of artist moving image and documentary portraiture. She is a Reader in Media Arts at Sheffield Hallam University. See more of her work here.