Occupying the Hulme Hippodrome

A short film about an old abandoned Music Hall Theatre in Hulme Manchester, I originally just went to photograph the old building which is amazing. But I ended up making this little documentary and spending a lot of time there as I found the recent history of the building just as fascinating as it’s past.

Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment

From the broad selection we’re showing this year, Dean Cooper’s Occupying the Hulme Hippodrome is one of a few that deals with aspects of squatting, community activism and direct building occupation. Within the film we’re introduced to a group of squatters trying to achieve what seems most dire within our country: community. 

Cooper gives us this view through the view of the Hulme Hippodrome. The film introduces us to the history of the building. As a hippodrome from the early 20th century, the Hulme Hippodrome would have been host to all types of traditional entertainment, in particular variety shows engaged around the theatre. This memory seems to haunt the film’s opening. 

What history lacks in the Hulme Hippodrome is made up by the vibrant community of squatters that turned the building into an active community centre. It is as if the present occupation is trying to make up what has been lost with time: the presence of working-class people together enjoying entertainment. This time, however, the meaning is political: with the privatisation of public space and de-funding on a grand scale of Arts and Culture by successive Tory governments the actions of the Hulme squatters seems a necessity if public-community space is to re-emerge.

Dean has asked that we link you to to a resource called the Advisory Service for Squatters: 

Advisory Service For Squatters is an UNPAID collective of workers who have been running a daily advice service for squatters and homeless people since 1975.

  /  2022
Dean Cooper (AKA vj decoder)
12:06 mins
Original Language