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Another Tale of Two Cities

Posted by btoren@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
September 6th, 2006

Another Tale of Two Cities
Un autre conte de deux villes

a documentary by Michelle Gales
The transformation of two neighborhoods, the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris
and Spitalfields-Whitechapel in London

Now & Then Productions
Screening Thursday September 7 at 5:30 PM
Downtown Campus Library
Room 104
Followed by Discussion with the Director

Another Tale of Two Cities invites you to be the detective, looking for clues in the images, the signs of change. And to be something of an archaeologist, too. These streets have a story to tell. And they are full of History: the French Revolutions of 1789, 1830, 1848 and the Paris Commune, John Wikes, French Huguenots and Jewish refugees. London Docklands, the Labour Movement and the famous East End solidarity. In fact, Another Tale of Two Cities, does not follow a traditional storyline, but an itinerary: three passages between these two cities.

The Faubourg Saint Antoine, our point of departure, is situated just east of the historic Marais district in Paris, and Spitalfields-Whitechapel, is just north of the dramatically transformed London Docklands and east of the financial district, the City of London, -the famous “square mile”. Indeed, the “frontier” between these two “boroughs”, the City of London and Tower Hamlets, is striking as the modern office blocks of the City loom over the rooftops of Spitalfields. In London, as in Paris, you will recognize the same buildings and streets, from different angles, at different points in time, and observe some of the transformations.

The three chapters taken from Dickens’ novel, Recalled to Life, The Golden Thread and The Track of the Storm, correspond to the three aspects of our inquiry: urban regeneration, historic preservation and community participation.

Can planners avoid exacerbating the speculation they seek to curb?

Can preservation find methods which do not push out modest income groups and erase the elements which enable us to understand our past?

Can local community groups make themselves heard in the decision making process on the future of their neighborhood?

A patchwork, a pageant, a puzzle, a plea.

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