Common Ground Cinema
Films in progress about woodlands and fields
4th March 2015 Hooke Park, Dorset

An evening of films-in-progress from Common Ground. The Dorset-based charity is well known for its imaginative projects exploring the relationship between culture and nature. Having regularly collaborated with artists, photographers, writers and musicians in the past, they are now beginning to produce films and collaborate with talented film-makers. With screenings and talks with the producers and directors, this showcase is an exciting chance to get a sneak preview of the films Common Ground is working on.


Common Ground has begun a series of woodland film portraits. Working with Dorset AONB and the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Beauty, funded by the Cabinet Office and Communities Living Sustainably in Dorset, the films are the start of a fascinating story about woodlands that explores the historic importance of woodlands in our culture, how they have become increasingly neglected, and why it is that managed woodlands enrich communities and wildlife habitats, not neglected ones.

KISILU - THE WEATHERMAN (Dir. Julia Dahr, 50 mins)

Global weather patterns are becoming increasingly unpredictable and this is hitting those that depend on farming as a livelihood hardest. Kisilu lives in a rural area of East Kenya where the changing weather makes supporting a family through farming more and more difficult. One of the starkest signs of this is that most of the men in Kisilu’s community have left to find work in towns. Kisilu is now one of few men not to have given up on farming. With video diary and observational footage shot over 4 years and 3 rainy seasons, the film builds a ground-breaking portrait of a Kenyan farming family on the frontline of climate change. Kisilu is one film in a broader project about fields that Common Ground is developing, which invited different film-makers to create intimate portraits of one particular field and the people who rely on it for their livelihood or happiness.

'The films were very different from each other, but both centred on personal stories.'

‘It was good to have the difference in cultures and focus from general learning to specific plight of one man.’

The audience commented upon the subtle ways in which the films explored the many layers of climate change and living sustainably. Kisulu was thoughtful, and showed the extreme effects of climate instability, as well as the challenges of becoming a community climate activist and thereby not being able to support one’s own smallholding and family.

The audience was inspired, and heartily applauded both the films.

“These films are fantastic and need to be viewed more widely”.

“Hooke Park was wonderful to visit and the films were well matched.  I look forward to the African film being finished. “

Discussion centred on what people can do to live more sustainably. The UK woodland film, which included 2 sites in Dorset, was very featured some of the audience members and was relevant and easy to relate to.

“I hadn’t realised there was so much that could be done with a woodland, for example community wood-fuel to address fuel poverty.”

The event was in a great venue, and in a successful format. There is a wider appeal to an event of this nature, in a beautiful setting. Prior to the screenings people were able to walk around the Park. They were also offered a guided tour of some of the structures designed and built by students from timber at Hooke, including a fascinating introduction to the woodchip heat exchange boiler, and a new cutting edge robotic arm – which demonstrates Hooke’s combination of high and low technology.

40-45 people attended, which was full capacity. It was a mixed group, many of whom were new to CLS. Several are involved in other woodland projects, linked through CLS. The event was publicised within the CLS programme and highlighted in a couple of press pieces which showed Common Ground’s photograph above. The audience heard about the event from Common Ground, the CLS e-news, via a CLS partner, and one from the Bridport TIC.

It felt like a positive collaboration between three organisations: Common Ground and Architecture Association at Hooke are working together on a community woodland project, supported by CLS in Dorset, and developing other arts-based projects. Each has a slightly different ‘pulling power’ and reputation. CLS discussed and decided upon the Climate Week film programme. Common Ground produced a flier with stunning images. Common Ground plan to extend their film work, and this event will have shown something of what they are capable of doing as well as raised interest in their future film plans.


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