"From the Cubby" Documentary Series on Homelessness, Tuberculosis, and Resilience

“From the Cubby” is an ethnographic film series exploring homelessness and tuberculosis in the UK. Filmed over six years, it follows the lives of individuals caught up in an outbreak of tuberculosis.

The screening of the film will take place at Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40), on Wednesday 4th October at 18:00–20:00. The screening is free and open to all.

Originating as a 10-minute university project, "From the Cubby" transformed into a six-year project through the harsh world of Canterbury's rough sleeping population. The series derives its name from a makeshift encampment frequented by these individuals, which also became the epicentre of a tuberculosis outbreak.

Earlier this year, a pilot screening was hosted at the University of Helsinki, prompting researchers Stefan Millar, Maija-Eliina Sequeira and Jenni Viitala to organise a second screening alongside an ethnographic film workshop. As a result, “From the Cubby” film producers will hold a workshop in ethnographic filmmaking, aimed primarily for doctoral researchers as part of the curriculum of the doctoral programme in Social Sciences.

A blend of storytelling and participatory research

Directed by Joe Spence, a doctoral student from the University of Kent, UK, "From the Cubby" employs a blend of documentary filmmaking, open-source folklore, storytelling, arts practice, public engagement, and participatory action research to shed light on pressing issues.

“From the Cubby invites you to pause and listen to the world around you, offering a powerful reminder that we often overlook the realities unfolding on our own doorstep. It demonstrates that with care and attention, we can bridge gaps and embark on a journey of informal learning about our fellow neighbours”, Joe Spence states.

From a public health standpoint, this series showcases how anthropological research can help unravel the structural and social determinants of health, forging the relationships needed for change. It moves beyond abstract notions of health and policymaking.

"From the Cubby" takes on the challenge of addressing barriers faced by tuberculosis patients, including mental health, housing issues, addiction, violence, nutrition, legal constraints, and welfare obstacles. This series provides insights into lives teetering on the brink, the complexities of researching vulnerable populations, and contributes to participatory and publicly engaged academia. It amplifies the voices and visibility of those often excluded from formal knowledge and film production, with half of the production team being former tuberculosis patients, including co-director Nick Chamberlain, who shares lived experiences of rough sleeping and tuberculosis recovery.

The film-making journey

It all began with an unlikely friendship between director Joe Spence and two individuals, Martin and Nick, who used to busk with harmonicas on his doorstep in Canterbury. As their bond grew, unforeseen circumstances unfolded, including the mysterious disappearance of Martin and Nick's struggle with undiagnosed tuberculosis.

Amidst the backdrop of the first COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK, Avi Betz-Heinemann joined Joe and Nick, along with others, to make sense of the extensive footage. Nick, on the road to recovery, became the illustrator and grounding voice behind the project. The filmmaking process evolved into a collaborative journey of sense-making, healing, and a passionate call for harm reduction initiatives and housing justice.

Where and when: Metsätalo B116 (Unioninkatu 40), Wednesday 4th October 18:00-20:00 Free to book here: https://bit.ly/fromthecubby More information on website: https://fromthecubby.com/

For more details, please contact:

Stefan Millar stefan.millar@helsinki.fi