Film Screening: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Utopia

Monday 16 July 18.00

Monday 16 July 18.00-20.00 £4* Booking essential

T. Dan Smith, Leader of Newcastle City Council between 1958 and 1965, was a visionary, flawed and controversial politician, convicted of corruption in 1974. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Utopia (Amber Films 1987, 85 mins) uses an experimental stricture as a way of dealing with the uncertainty of the evidence.

Smith handled Public Relations for architect John Poulson, whose bankruptcy revealed the scale of his bribery. Made in close collaboration with Smith himself, the film reveals his complexity and raises questions about PR, parliamentary consultancies, and the hidden, informal power structure that ties in businessmen with politicians, on both a local and national level. Juxtaposing documentary footage and interviews with a fictional contemporary drama of political corruption, it carried the strapline ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Utopia’. Amber was drawn towards the territory of the film out of its critique of the destruction of communities the redevelopment Smith had been central to planning – such as in Byker, documented by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen in the 1970’s.

The film screening will be followed by Q & A with Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones (Newcastle City Futures), Alessandro Vincentelli (BALTIC Curator) & John Griffiths (Urban Historian).

*Plus booking fee

Concession tickets available: Students, 60+, Unwaged. Proof of eligibility may be requested on entry. Prices not inclusive of booking fee.

Supported by Newcastle City Futures, University of Newcastle & Ryder Architecture in association with TyneDeck exhibition for Idea of North.