1986, 50 mins, U-matic, color, 11 mins (excerpts), original available through www.spectacle.co.uk
In January 1986, Rupert Murdoch moved his printing operation News International from Fleet St to Wapping in East London. Over 5,000 print workers, clerical staff, cleaners, and secretaries were sacked in one day. Despite the Sun is an investigation into the year-long dispute, which shook the print industry. Produced from the point of view of the residents and print workers, the camera records the effects on residents harassed by the police and Murdoch’s trucks alike, and cavalry-like charges of police horses on the picket lines. Vital questions are raised about the ownership and control of the media, access to it, the organization of work, and the impact of the so-called “new technology.”
Sean Cubitt, City Limits, 1986
It’s a phenomenal piece of work. It was using the aesthetic of both the recording equipment (VHS) and the playback, the immediate circulation for Despite the Sun were people in the immediate area of the dispute over moving the Murdoch group newspapers down to the Isle of Dogs and the famous picket lines. The BBC crews, which they interviewed, weren’t allowed through the police lines, but these guys were all locals, so they all went scooting round through people’s houses and so on to get stories that the national media weren’t getting, and it’s a fabulous piece of work, but it was designed to be shown locally and distributed through the library service in Tower Hamlets, so they were expecting domestic TV and VHS playback, so it was pretty raw, and also released very swiftly, I think they cut it in less than a week from about three weeks of shoots. So it was very important aesthetically as well as in terms of its politics.