Here for Life

Andrea Luka Zimmerman / Adrian Jackson

Premiered at Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland
15 August 2019


1 minute 17 seconds
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Extraordinary exploration of London life ★★★★ Time Out 
Beautiful piece of filmmaking Art Monthly

Ten Londoners and a dog. An uncommon story on common ground

Here for Life is a feature film marking the culmination of a long collaboration between film-maker Andrea Luka Zimmerman and theatre-maker Adrian Jackson, a group of Londoners, and a dog. It was previewed outdoors 11–20 June 2019 at Nomadic Community Gardens where much of the footage was shot; it was awarded a Special Mention from the Concorso Cineasti del presente jury during its premiere at the Locarno Film festival, Switzerland 15 August 2019, and prior to its UK and Ireland general release, 22 November 2019, was shortlisted for the Raindance Discovery Award at the annual British Independent Film Awards (BIFA). The film has since won first prize in the category for International Feature Film at Palmarès festival de cinema en ville 2020.

The cast dance together, steal together, eat together; agree and disagree, celebrate their differences and share their talents. They cycle, they play, they ride a horse. The lines between one person’s story and another’s performance are blurred and the borders between reality and fiction are porous.

Eventually, they come together on a makeshift stage in a place between two train tracks. They spark a debate about the world we live in, who has stolen what from whom, and how things might be fixed.

The film was released in cinemas on Friday 22nd November, 2019.

This trailer by Andrew Kötting is also available to watch on Vimeo and YouTube.
The full film is 87 minutes in duration and is certificate 15.




Making of Here for Life

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Andrea Luka Zimmerman on the making of Here for Life

To create this film I wanted to use a small camera — one smaller than a phone — so as to take away the apparatus of cinema and to offer the most beautiful eye I could. I adapted a small Black Magic pocket cinema camera to fit my old Bolex lenses, one of which is unique in that it has a rare fungus growing in it that gives an amazing image.

I believe that how we frame is also part of an ethics of making, in my work very much so. I film most of my films myself but also work with cinematographers as the need arises (long term collaborator Taina Galis for instance), on larger scenes where I could not direct or co-direct with full attention otherwise, or complex lit scenes, etc.

My joy and love for filming is deep. I work very intuitively and try to find a visual language for each film that does justice to the content, often developed in tandem, so each can speak to the other. I always need time in my work, one of the most precious aspects of being able to make a work like Here For Life.

I would always shoot on film if I had the chance to work this way (given the time my approach to filmmaking needs it tends to be too expensive), but this came close to 16mm. I had bought the Bolex in 1995 in New York where I was on an exchange programme, and buying this camera in my first

week there in China Town market for $350 meant that I had no money left for the remaining 2 months of my stay and wasn’t allowed to work. I am used to surviving but still lost lots of weight, but it was worth it, as I filmed all my early films on this camera. I still have it.

Importantly, I wanted to use a cheap camera that was also humble. It was a crucial decision which Taina, our co-cinematographer (who filmed all the bunker scenes and some of the more difficult larger scenes) was initially not too happy about (but she is so good at what she does, she superseded what I thought would be possible with this camera) — the lenses are so small that to focus on them is nearly impossible when moving handheld (she and I practiced a lot) and outdoors for the summer shoots we had to use a complicated self-made construction that could support our ND filters, meaning more often than not our fingers were too large to change focus, or smudged the lens, or the neoprene blocked half the lens etc). Additionally, I chose this set up because it meant in grading we only really needed to adjust the images slightly, as the look I was after was already present.

Apart from looking different to the big fancy cousins it also meant that the infrastructure of the work, the payment, went to the people who worked on the film, behind and before the camera, instead.

Image: Patrick Onione on a horse in Brixton Market on set for Here for Life. Photograph: Marc Hankins

The Cutting Room

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The Cutting Room

On The Cutting Room website, you can make videos using footage and outtakes generated during the production of Here for Life. The video fragments were selected using a computer algorithm that scanned nearly 500 hours worth of video based on the names of the cast members and recurring objects and actions.

The Cutting Room was designed and made by Vera van de Seyp.

The Cutting Room

Image: Still from Here for Life. Jake Goode juggles while other cast members watch. 

About the Artists

Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson
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Andrea Luka Zimmerman

Andrea Luka Zimmerman was selected as part of the 2014 Open call for proposals from Artangel and BBC Radio 4.

Andrea is an artist, filmmaker and cultural activist.  Andrea’s work is concerned with marginalisation, social justice and structural violence and has been nominated for The Grierson Award and The Film London Jarman Award. Her films include Erase and Forget (2017), which had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for the The Glashütte Original – Documentary Award and Estate, a Reverie (2015) which documents the last days of Hackney’s Haggerston Estate before its demolition, the artist’s home for 17 years. Selected exhibitions include Civil Rites, The London Open at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2018) and solo show ‘Common Ground’ at Spike Island, Bristol (2017).  Andrea is the co-founder of the cultural collectives Fugitive Images and Vision Machine (collaborators on Academy Award® nominated feature documentary The Look of Silence). Andrea is a Reader at Central St Martins, University of the Arts London.

Adrian Jackson

Adrian Jackson was selected as part of the 2014 Open call for proposals from Artangel and BBC Radio 4.

Adrian is a theatre maker, playwright, teacher, translator and one of the world’s leading experts on the Theatre of the Oppressed. In 1991, he founded Cardboard Citizens, a theatre project that aims to change the lives of homeless people through the performing arts. He has directed over 50 plays with Cardboard Citizens, including Pericles (2003) and Timon (2006) with the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Beggar’s Opera (1999) with the English National Opera, Mincemeat (2009), winner of an Evening Standard Theatre Award and A Few Man Fridays (2012). Jackson had a long association with Augusto Boal – the Brazilian theatre maker, theorist and founder of the Theatre of the Oppressed – and has translated a number of Boal’s books into English. More recently, he directed Cathy, by Ali Taylor (2016/17), and, with Caitlin Mcleod, Home Truths, an Incomplete History of Housing Told in Nine Plays (2017).

Images: (left) Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson at a preview screening of Here for Life at Nomadic Community Gardens, June 2019. (above, top image) Andrea Luka Zimmerman (above, lower image); Adrian Jackson. Both photographs taken on the set of Here for Life. Photos: Therese Henningsen

Production Credits

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Production Credits

Directed by: Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson
Devised by: Andrea Luka Zimmerman, Adrian Jackson with Therese Henningsen and the performers
Produced by: Artangel
Executive Producers: James Lingwood, Michael Morris, Cressida Day
  • Jo Galbraith
  • Jake Goode
  • Richard Honeyghan
  • Kamby Kamara
  • Errol McGlashan
  • Patrick Onione
  • Ben Smithies
  • Mwiinga Twyman
  • Jono Whitty
  • Sasha Winslow
Editor: Grant Gee
Sound Designer: Marie Tueje
Directors of Photography: Taina Galis, Andrea Luka Zimmerman

Image: Cast members and crew at Nomadic Community Gardens for the filming of Here for Life. Photograph: Therese Henningsen


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A film of great compassion and political and aesthetic ambition, in which the idea of a collective is prioritised for a change, but without sacrificing or downplaying the individual voices and idiosyncrasies that it comprises – Kieron Corless, Sight & Sound

Selected Press

A film of great compassion and political and aesthetic ambition, in which the idea of a collective is prioritised for a change, but without sacrificing or downplaying the individual voices and idiosyncrasies that it comprises – Kieron Corless, Sight & Sound, 3 September 2019
Here for Life is a moving film about hardship in London – J.W., Prospero, The Economist, 25 September 2019
Fluidly integrates theatrical performance and process into a beatuful piece of filmmaking – Hettie Judah, Art Monthly, October 2019
Here for Life challenges documentary form by weaving a non-linear portrait around rehearsals for a live performance – So Mayer, Literal Magazine, April 2020
The nature of stories is that it can be told in many different ways. The nature of media is that it should be told in ‘this’ way. I noticed for example when I watched it is that I could take any one of those stories and make a whole film about it. – Lemn Sissay, Birds Eye View, May 2020

Cinema Release

It's hard to forget these weathered faces of Here for Life. They may have been abandoned by progress, but never by art. In so many ways, the film becomes a mosaic of their experiences, producing the kind of raw, frayed, vulnerability one might associate with the cinema of Claire Denis. – Glenn Heath Jr, Little White Lies, 21 November 2019
What is London if not dense with human experience, mixed up and disorientating? All these traits are in place at the heart of the provocative new documentary from film-maker Andrea Luka Zimmerman – Danny Leigh, 21 November 2019

Audio: BBC Sounds: Hear For Life

Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4
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BBC Sounds: Hear For Life

Directors Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson discuss some of their methods for Here for Life, which included community outreach, workshops, Theatre of the Oppressed and how they were influenced by Vittorio De Sica's 1948 Bicycle Thieves. We hear behind the scenes audio from rehearsals, filming and insights from the cast members about their experience.

Hear for Life was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2019.

You can listen to this episode on Soundcloud and BBC Sounds

Image: Errol McGlashan with headphones at a preview screening of Here for Life at Nomadic Community Gardens, June 2019. Photograph: Therese Henningsen  

Video: Q&A: Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson

42 minutes 23 seconds
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Video: Q&A: Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson

Directors Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson take part in a Q&A along with cast members from Here for Life, moderated by Penny Woolcock at City Hall, London.

Filmed and edited by Ted Beddingfield
Subtitled by Stagetext

This video is available to watch on Vimeo and YouTube.


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Who made this possible?


Commissioned and produced by Artangel with the support of the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Artangel’s Guardian Angels. It was selected through Open by Artangel and BBC Radio 4.

Artangel is generously supported by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of The Artangel International CircleSpecial AngelsGuardian Angels, and The Company of Angels.
Special thanks to Cardboard Citizens, Stuart Grey, Matt Lucas, Flora Newbigin, Gareth Evans, Andrew Kötting, Andrew Meikle, Richard ‘Salim’ Sleeman, James Wheale, and everyone at Nomadic Community Gardens.
Distributed by Modern Films.