The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire produced by John Christensen (co-founder of the Tax Justice Network) and directed by Michael Oswald, is a documentary film that shows how Britain transformed from a colonial power into a global financial power.
John Christensen features in my documentary, You Can’t Evict An Idea about the Occupy London experience while it was camped at St.Paul’s in the City of London.His work with the Tax Justice Network informed much of what Occupy London stood for.
The Spider’s Web speaks of complex financial instruments and legislation passed in sufficient detail to achieve the perfect balance of credibility and mass audience comprehension. The Spider’s Web leaves no room for doubt that the regulations that embolden tax haven contracts are clearly grounded in the principle of unaccountable power through money ownership.
According to John Christensen, if tax havens were to be abolished, the inequality within and between countries could be drastically reduced. Furthermore, the financial service companies based in the City of London, facilitate large-scale theft from the public purse of many developing countries by the countries’ own officials. Despite revealing with credible detail the enormity of the effects of such practices that are indirectly, yet ultimately, facilitated by the the Corporation of the City of London, the film has had trouble being accepted into any film festivals.
In the Q&A at SOAS, John and Michael revealed that after a whole year of costly film festival submission, they were not accepted into any.
There is no getting around the structure of film festival entry. The gatekeepers are individuals who may or may not follow a procedure for selection, may or may not be guided by their gut, may or may not be influenced by whether they have heard of the production company or not, may or may not be interested in the topic. What is certain is that whether there some kind of qualitative analysis going on in the selection of a film, there is always the subjectivity of the gatekeeper doing it.
For me, who is about to embark on the film festival submission journey, with my second feature You Can’t Evict An Idea, it was daunting to hear of their experience. I enjoyed and appreciated the Spiders’ Web. I related closely to what I recognised as the difficulties in film making when attempting to visually communicate anything about the City of London. Myself, I was reduced to traffic bollards!
Personally I highly recommend this film, particularly if have ever believed in what the BBC tells you about austerity and there being not enough money for public services.