Archive stills courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums; British Film Institute; Imperial War Museum; and North East Film Archive

2016 // 72′ // 2K // UK
asunder1916.uk // twitter // facebook // IMDb

a film by
Esther Johnson

produced by
Esther Johnson and Bob Stanley

text
Bob Stanley

narration
Kate Adie and Alun Armstrong

music
Field Music and Warm Digits

performed with
Royal Northern Sinfonia and The Cornshed Sisters

editing
Graham Taylor

cinematography
Mary Farbrother

additional camera
Esther Johnson

sound design
Chu-Li Shewring

screening format
DCP

distribution
Blanche Pictures

facebook
vimeo

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.

'Asunder' Trailer. Please turn on CC (Closed Captions) for subtitles.
Q&A with Esther Johnson, hosted by director of Birds' Eye View Film Mia Bays. CC (Closed Captions) for deaf and hard of hearing can be switched on here, and a transcript can be accessed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
'Asunder' contemporary footage of Sunderland and the North East

Awards

Special Commendation for Learning on Screen BUFVC 2018 'Archive' Award
Finalist for BAFTSS 2018 'Best Experimental Practice Research Portfolio' Award
Winner of Journal Culture 2017 'Best Event Sunderland' Award
Finalist for Focal International 2017 'Best Footage in a Factual Production' Award
Finalist for Living North 2016 'Performance of the Year' Award

“… and then all the world began to roar.”
Private William Finlay, Durham Light Infantry Regiment and Lincolnshire Regiment

ASUNDER tells 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, due 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 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.

A film by Esther Johnson with 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.

The premiere of ASUNDER took place at the Sunderland Empire Theatre on 10 July 2016, commemorating the centenary of the first days of the Battle of the Somme. The Empire is one of the largest theatres in the North East, opened by music hall star Vesta Tilley on 1 July 1907. The premiere had a live soundtrack performed by Field Music, Warm Digits, Royal Northern Sinfonia and The Cornshed Sisters.


Performances with Live Music

Barbican Milton Court Concert Hall, London 20:00 12.02.17
Part of the year-long Film in Focus programme celebrating the power of the moving image and its influence across the arts

Sunderland Empire Theatre High Street West, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear 14:30 and 19:30 10.07.16
Accompanied by an Asunder inspired artistic, community and participation programme across Sunderland


Online Screenings

01 May—31 December 2021
ASUNDER online community screenings will be available through Cinema For All Curate
These screenings include the options of turning on:
CC (Closed Captions) for deaf and hard of hearing audience members
AD (Audio Description) for blind and partially sighted audience members

29 March—30 April 2021
Leeds Film Player will host ASUNDER as part of the Leeds Young Film Festival
screening includes the option of turning on:
CC (Closed Captions) for deaf and hard of hearing audience members

01 March—30 April 2021
YourScreen F-rated Virtual Cinema screenings supporting independent and community cinemas. These screenings include the options of turning on:
CC (Closed Captions) for deaf and hard of hearing audience members
AD (Audio Description) for blind and partially sighted audience members

Streaming the film also includes a #ReclaimtheFrame Q&A with Director Esther Johnson hosted by Mia Bays, director of Birds’ Eye View Film.

See a participating cinema you want to support? Enter their Asunder 25% off promo code at the YourScreen pay point. Cinemas include:
Aberystwyth Arts Centre Wales · code: ABERYS
Bracknell Film Society Berkshire
Birds Eye View London · code: BEV25
The Castle Cinema Hackney
The David Lean Cinema Croydon · code: DLYS
Depot Cinema Lewes · code: DEPOT25
Dorchester Film Society Dorset
Dukes Theatre Lancaster · code: DUKESYS
Electric Palace Cinema Hastings · code: HASTYS
HOME Manchester · code: HOME25
Keswick Alhambra Cumbria · code: KESYS
Kinokulture Oswestry · code: KINO25
Leyburn Arts & Community Centre
Live & Local community cinema network in the Midlands
The Lowther Pavilion Lytham St Annes
Lucem House St Helens community cinema, group screening on 16.04.21 · code: LHYSS325 
Memo Arts Centre Barry · code: MEMOYS
Northampton Film House
The Place Bedford 01—14 March · code: PLACEYS
Plymouth Arts Cinema
Reading Film Theatre
The Roses Tewkesbury · code: ROSESYS
Saffron Screen Saffron Walden
Strode Theatre Somerset
The Torch Theatre Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire
Sunderland Culture code: SUNMUS25
Totnes Cinema Devon · code: TOT40
Wem Town Hall Shrewsbury
Windmill Cinema Littlehampton · code: WINDYS
Wotton Electric Picture House Cotswolds · code: WOTT25

27—29 November 2020 72 hour online screening
Forum Cinema Hexham

Cinema Screenings

TPD: Centre for supporting Movie Talents Hanoi, Vietnam 19:00 28.03.21 free
plus video-link Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson
This event forms part of the FAMLAB strand (Film–Archive–Music) of the British Council Vietnam project Heritage of Future Past

The Ritz Cinema Belper WW1 Armistice commemorative screening 15.11.20 — CANCELLED due to CoViD-19 England lockdown

National Science and Media Museum Bradford WW1 Armistice commemorative screening 11.11.20 — CANCELLED due to CoViD-19 England lockdown

Chapter Arts Cardiff WW1 Armistice commemorative screening 11.11.20 — CANCELLED due to CoViD-19 Wales lockdown

Forum Cinema Hexham WW1 Armistice commemorative screening 10-11.11.20 — CANCELLED due to CoViD-19 England lockdown

Saffron Screen Saffron Walden WW1 Armistice commemorative screening 08.11.20 — CANCELLED due to CoViD-19 England lockdown

Queen’s Film Theatre Belfast, screening as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival 2020 17:30 01.11.20 — CANCELLED due to CoViD-19 N. I. lockdown

Showroom Cinema Sheffield Commemorative screening for the centenary of the WW1 Armistice 13:00 11.11.18

Hebden Bridge Picture House Commemorative screening for the centenary of the WW1 Armistice 16:30 11.11.18

Square Chapel Arts Centre Halifax Commemorative screening for the centenary of the WW1 Armistice 11:00 02.11.18
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson

The Odyssey Cinema St Albans 17:00 01.07.18

The Women’s Library screening as part of Suffrage 18 a centenary exploration at LSE  Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, Lincoln’s Inn Field, London 18:30 15.06.18 free
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson

Hyde Park Picture House Leeds 15:00 03.06.18 free
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson, chaired by Dr Andy Moore, University of Leeds

Duke’s at Komedia Brighton 20:40 12.12.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson

Curzon Soho London 18:45 07.12.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson and Writer/co-producer Bob Stanley, chaired by Sophie Monks Kaufman, Little White Lies

Curzon Sheffield 18:45 29.11.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson, chaired by Sarah Dawson, Sheffield Doc/Fest

Belmont Filmhouse Aberdeen, School screening 10:00 13.09.17

Filmhouse Edinburgh School screening 10:00 12.09.17

Filmhouse Edinburgh 15:30 10.09.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson, chaired by Lydia Beilby, Film Programmer for EIFF

KinoKulture Oswestry 19:30 16.08.17 free
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson, chaired by Ruth Carter, KinoKulture Co-Founder and Film Exhibition Programmer

Jam Jar Cinema Whitley Bay 20:30 01.08.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson, chaired by Dan Ellis, Jam Jar Cinema Founder

QUAD Derby, School screening 10:00, Evening screening 19:00 21.06.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson, chaired by Nigel Powlson, Journalist

Tyneside Cinema Newcastle 15:15 21.05.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson and Writer/co-producer Bob Stanley, chaired by Holli Keeble, Chief Executive, Tyneside Cinema

Regent Street Cinema London 19:30 18.04.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson and Writer/co-producer Bob Stanley, chaired by Travis Elborough, Writer

HOME Manchester 18:20 22.02.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson and Writer/co-producer Bob Stanley, chaired by Jason Wood, Artistic Director of Film, HOME

Community Film Screenings

Southwick REACH Commemorative screening for the centenary of the WW1 Armistice Sunderland time tbc 16.11.18
Arts Centre Wasinghton Commemorative screening for the centenary of the WW1 Armistice Sunderland 14:00 10.11.18
Mansions of the Future Lincoln 19:00 09.11.18 free
plus intro by Dr Ian Waites, University of Lincoln
The Customs House South Shields as part of Heritage Open Days 13:30 07.09.18 + 14.09.18
Weston Park Picturing Sheffield Gallery screening as part of Changing Lives: 200 Years of People and Protest in Sheffield Sheffield 18:30 11.04.18 free
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson, chaired by Dr David Clarke, Sheffield Hallam University
Fighting Talk screening as part of SheFest 35 Chapel Walk Sheffield for International Women’s Day 18:00 13.03.18
The Cumberland Arms Newcastle for International Women’s Day time 19:00 08.03.18 free, donations welcomed for charities Plan International and Newcastle Women’s Aid
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson
Gosforth Civic Theatre Newcastle upon Tyne 19.30 30.11.17
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson and Composer/musician Peter Brewis from Field Music, chaired by Judith Stevenson, Historian
Shipley Film Society Kirkgate Centre, Shipley 19:00 15.09.17 free, donations welcomed
plus Q&A with Director/co-producer Esther Johnson and Writer/co-producer Bob Stanley
Miners’ Hall Redhills Durham 15:00 04.07.17 free
Sheffield Doc/Fest The Light Cinema 20:00 10.06.17 free
Holmfirth Film Festival West Yorkshire 16:00 21.05.17 free
Phoenix Theatre Blyth 19:30 07.05.17
The Cultural Spring Creative Space The Bridges, Sunderland 10:00 02.05.17 free
Holmeside Coffee Sunderland 18:00 26.04.17 free
Arts Centre Washington Sunderland 13:30 and 19:00 19.04.17
Sunderland Quaker Meeting House Roker 19:00 30.03.17 free
Great War Weekend Tanfield Railway, Gateshead 14:00 18.03.17
Whitburn Methodist Church South Tyneside 19:00 17.03.17 free
Pop Recs Ltd Sunderland 18:30 15.02.17 free
Back on the Map Community Centre Hendon, Sunderland 14:00 18.01.17

Conference and Symposia

Make Film History: Unlocking the Creative Potential of Film Archives online workshop about archive research 10.04.21

14-18 NOW: Looking Back and Looking Forward webinar presentation from Sunderland Culture on digital engagement for ASUNDER 23.03.21

Marginalised Histories Through Live Cinema SXSW Austin, Texas, USA — CANCELLED due to CoViD-19 15.03.20

Future-proofing Our Collections: Unleashing the Power of Archive Film · London’s Screen Archives Conference Museum of London, Barbican, London 12.03.20

FAMLab Film, Archive and Music British Council at Sensoria Foundry Studios, Sheffield 03.10.18

IOHA 2018 – Memory & Narration University of Jyväskylä, Finland 18–21.06.18

Live Cinema Summit  Archive and Live Scores Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Sheffield 08.06.18

The Heritage Consortium Conference, The Void, Sheffield Hallam University 05.06.18

BAFTSS 6th Annual Conference 2018 – Revolution: Politics, Technology, Aesthetics University of Kent 12–13.04.18

MeCCSA Annual Conference School of Arts and Creative Industries, London South Bank University 10–12.01.18

New Approaches event, FLAMIN, Toynbee Studios, London 27.11.17

The Sound Of Memory, Sound-track / Sound-scape Whitechapel Gallery, Zilkha Auditorium, London 11:30–18:00 23.04.17

Interviews and Reviews

Morning Star

Culture Vulture

Sunderland Echo · Ypres commemoration service for Robert Hope


Northern Lights


Barbican Contemporary Music podcast


SpeakUpSunderland podcast

‘a fascinating kaleidoscope’  Chronicle  ★★★★★

‘Asunder casts its spell’  Sunderland Echo

‘very special indeed’  Living North

‘Wonder Asunder…had Living North in raptures’  Living North

‘revel[s] in alternative viewpoints’  Music OMH  ★★★★★

‘Absolutely extraordinary. Immersive, entrancing experience’
‘I was very moved…still thinking about it’
‘Beautiful film/live music’
‘Absolutely class’  Storify

Articles by Esther Johnson

The Conversation February 2018

Viewfinder April 2018 No 110 · Learning on Screen