Prestigious film festival to show documentary on Yorkshire families' fight to save their homes

A creative documentary which tells the story of Yorkshire families whose homes are being demolished to make way for a multi-million development will be shown to an international audience at a prestigious film festival next month.

The poster for the documentary Hanging On, which tells the story of Leeds families who are being forced to leave their homes ahead of a multi-million pound redevelopment
The poster for the documentary Hanging On, which tells the story of Leeds families who are being forced to leave their homes ahead of a multi-million pound redevelopment

Hanging On has been added to the line-up for the Toronto International Film Festival, which begins on September 9.

Director Alfie Barker and his crew spent a year working with a community in Oulton, Leeds, who are being uprooted from their estate.

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“It’s an honest, human account of what these people are going through,” said Mr Barker.

“It’s a piece of art documenting their current situation, which is a problem speaking to a larger issue nationally.”

“I think it’s a story that resonates with people, because it questions what it means to have a home. People living in some of the most remote places in the world might be able to relate to their story and the difficulties they’re having.”

Investment company Pemberstone, which owns the estate, says there are 70 houses with significant structural damage and it will replace them with new builds, after the planning application was approved on appeal in January 2021.

But residents who live in the run-down pre-fabricated properties, which were built by the National Coal Board in the 1950s, have been fighting against the demolition for almost four years and claim the redevelopment will split up a close-knit community.

Pemberstone is legally required to rehouse 11 former miners, who are on old-style protected tenancy agreements, but the other households are on shorthold tenancies which can be brought to an end with a month’s notice.

The short film, which is 10-minutes long, premiered at Sheffield DocFest in June and it will be available to UK audiences again later this year.

Produced by Cosmosquare Films, it was funded through the Made of Truth: BFI Doc Society Short Film Fund as part of BFI NETWORK, which is supported by the National Lottery.