The Divide

  • Official Poster for The Divide Released

    New poster released today - designed by Lewis MacDonald of Public Spaces Design. Look out for it in cinemas soon!

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  • 50 screens and rising for UK release

    We've been talking to venues across the country and we already have over 50 confirmed, with more being added daily.

    Alongside the 7 day run at Picturehouse Central, the film will be showing at Hyde Park Picturehouse (Leeds), The Phoenix Finchley (London), Curzon Bloomsbury (London), Westway Cinema (Frome), HOME (Manchester) amongst many others!

    We'll also be screening at all 22 Picturehouse venues on the 31st May, including York Cityscreen, Brixton Ritzy, Edinburgh Cameo and the Phoenix Oxford

    You can see if The Divide is screening with you here

    As well as getting the film into cinemas, a big part of our plan is to ensure that we can reach new audiences. If you can't see a screening for the Divide near you, if you'd like to incorporate it into your own event, or just hold an affordable alternative for your community, why not organise a community screening?

    If you'd like to be part of this and hold your own screening please get in touch with us here! We encourage the use of screenings as fundraisers for local groups, and as a means to facilitate debate. There is a moderate licensing fee (to pay our distribution costs), for which you receive the film, artwork and publicity via our networks. There's more information about how this works here

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  • UK cinema release confirmed

    We can now confirm that THE DIVIDE will have a UK cinema release on the 22 April 2016. Described as "an extraordinary piece of filmmaking", "sublime" and "beautiful, funny & heartbreaking" we're thrilled it will now be reaching a wider audience. As soon as dates and venues are confirmed they will be posted If you bought world premiere tickets, you will receive your invite shortly.

    Want to organise your own screening when the film goes on release? Email with "community screening" in the subject header and we'll be in touch with more details.

    We anticipate a US festival release in mid 2016, rolling out to other territories afterwards. We'll keep you posted as we have more news.

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  • The Divide at Sheffield Doc/Fest

    Four and a half years from concept to screen - with your help - the first screening of THE DIVIDE* is just under one week away!

    We are thrilled to be holding our first festival preview this weekend at Sheffield Doc/Fest, the UK's premier documentary and digital media festival.

    Sheffield Doc/Fest is one of the top three documentary festivals in the world, and we are honoured to be selected to be part of it. It will also be a great launchpad for the film, enabling it to be seen by industry and public alike, as it begins its journey into the wider world.

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  • Big News - UK festival release announced

    We are thrilled to announce our world festival premiere at Sheffield International Documentary Festival! The film, now titled THE DIVIDE*, will screen on 7th and 10th June. Sheffield Doc/Fest is the biggest documentary event in the UK, screening some of the best films from around the world, so we are honoured to be included in their programme. We've also just heard that our London festival premiere will be at Open CIty Documentary Festival on the 17 June, where we are nominated for Best UK Film.

    It was four years ago that, having read The Spirit Level, I first spoke to Richard and Kate about translating it into a film. With your support in our crowdfunding campaigns, we embarked on the long journey to make it happen. This film is truly a team effort: from those who gave me their time for extensive research, to the individuals and families who generously opened their lives to contribute to the film, the economists and academics who granted me interviews, and the hard work of our very small but dedicated production team. As those of us in the UK contemplate the results of the recent election, one thing is certain: it is now more important than ever to reach new audiences, those who may not be aware of how rising inequality damages us all.

    Many people have asked what they can expect from the film. When I saw the charts in the book, it was the human meaning that struck me. I felt it was important to put real people at the heart of this story - so we can see, and feel, at first hand what the data means - and give a voice to those who are often not heard in the debates. At it's heart, the data is a story of how big picture economics can pull very personal, individual psychological levers in all of us and have an impact on how we live our lives.

    We are now busy working towards our cinema release, which we expect to be in the autumn for the UK, rolling out to other countries after that.

    For crowdfunders who have backed us for world premiere tickets, we will send your invites out in good time as soon as we have a date. Regional premieres will be notified as we progress, please bear with us if you are in the US as we have to abide by festival rules which restrict releasing the film until after the first US festival premiere.

    For those who have supported us by buying a download in advance, we will send you a password-protected time limited download when the film is released.

    *The name has been changed as many countries around the world do not use the term "spirit level" in the same way as it is in the UK. The film is still inspired by the book "The Spirit Level', we hope this new name will enable us to reach a bigger audience

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  • Our very first test screening is this week

    Christopher Hird, Executive Producer of the Spirit Level documentary says “It was more than four years ago that Katharine Round first approached me and said that she wanted to make a film based on the best selling book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level. Now, with the support of thousands of people through our crowd funding appeals, having spent the tens of thousands of pounds which they and some other large donors have given us and the unending patience of Kate and Richard, we are - we hope - in the final stretch.

    At the end of January - after several months work in the loft of my house, with editor John Mister, there is a rough cut of Katharine's film and we hope that the film will be released later this year.

    Richard and Kate's book argues that the data shows that the more equal a society, the better that society is, not just for the less well off, but for everyone: there is less crime, better educational achievement, better health outcomes and greater social cohesion. Since the book came out the subject of inequality has become more and more discussed, as data keeps pouring out showing the continual increase in the share of wealth and income going to the richest 1% of the population.

    David Sington's 2010 film The Flaw - which Dartmouth made in association with Studio Lambert - was one of the first documentaries to highlight this trend - and its role in causing the financial crash. The head of the IMF now says that the growing inequality is one of the big challenges of the day, whilst some of her staff have produced a piece of research which shows that more equal countries tend to be better at producing long term sustainable growth.

    So Katharine's film could not be more timely. What the film does is to dig beneath the data to show the impact of inequality and why it has the impact which it does. The film takes us inside a gated community in the USA to discover that affluence has not brought happiness and has, indeed, produced a dysfunctional micro-society. The film takes us inside an American prison to see the disturbing impact of the "three strikes and you are out" policy - one of the most extreme results of the unequal society of the US.

    And in the UK we see what life is like for the zero-hour contract care workers. The stories of these, and other people at different levels of the social hierarchy, are intervowen in the film with analysis from economists, writers, scientists and academics who have researched and studied inequality and its impact on society. And this rich tapestry is set in the context of the events of the last thirty years which have shaped the world in which we now live”

    Katharine Round, Director says “A rough cut is a key part of the creative process. It is, in essence, the equivalent of the first draft of a book, and marks the point at which filmmakers are able to receive key feedback on structure, characters, and storytelling devices so that the work can then move into a more refined form.

    To get to this point alone has been an amazing achievement for all involved –the thousands of ordinary people who gave what they could to support it; the hundreds of people who gave their time as part of the research process; the contributors who allowed myself and the crew into their lives and opened up their innermost hopes and fears; the scholars, economists and professionals who granted their time to be interviewed; researchers, cinematographers, sound recordists, editors, and all who have worked round the clock at each stage of the task. It is fair to say, that this has been an incredible and ambitious undertaking for an independent film – and indeed, our journey is still far from over!

    This week, we will be holding our first test screening of the rough cut. It is of course incredibly nerve-wracking. After two years solid work – and two further years planning before that – it can feel like sending your child off to their first day at school, and hoping that they will be well-received! We have invited a range of people to this screening – from our funders, to campaigners, filmmakers, critics, specialists, non-specialists, young and old(er)!

    Watching how your film plays to different audiences is a key part of the process as a filmmaker, helping you to understand how to communicate your ideas to people in different regions and with different aesthetic and narrative expectations. Seeing and hearing these first reactions often provides the information needed to inspire and sharpen the storytelling, focus the film and identify how a first-time viewer sees ands responds to every aspect. We are very grateful to our first test audience for agreeing to give us their time and feedback”

    This has been a mammoth journey. Katharine's crowd funding appeal to get the film started was, at the time, the most successful such appeal for a UK documentary on the Indiegogo crowd funding site, when thousands of people from around the world who we did not know, gave their money to get the project off the ground. Some philanthropic foundations came in with financial support. But it has still been a financial struggle to get this far and we will need to find more money to get over the finishing line. We hope next week will help us. Thank you to all our supporters and stay posted for more news.

    Katharine Round & Christopher Hird

    24 February 2015

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  • Child poverty is absolute and relative - why inequality matters

    A new campaign is raising awareness of the social impact of inequality – and you can help.

    By Jeremy Cliffe

    The distinction between absolute and relative poverty is once more in the news. Just this week Unicef published a new report warning that UK child poverty is set to rise, and accusing the government of delivering a “catastrophic blow to the futures of thousands of children.” The conclusion is consistent with last autumn’s IFS forecast predicting that some 400,000 will be pulled under the poverty line by government cuts, and that by 2020, 23% of British children will live in poverty. The target set by the 2010 Child Poverty Act is under 5%.

    But some speculate that the government intends to abandon the commitment enshrined in the 2010 legislation. The definition of child poverty (‘children in households earning under 60% of median income’) used in the Act is relative, not absolute. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), close to the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, this week called this “crude and flawed.”

    Of course, ‘absolute poverty’ - the fulfilment of base needs - matters. But various ‘absolute’ measures (crime, social mobility, health, violence, teenage pregnancy) correlate closely to relative poverty: to the level of inequality in a society.

    This is the thesis of The Spirit Level, a book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett that, according to The Sunday Times, contains “a big idea, big enough to change political thinking.” Using evidence that, to quote The Economist, is “painstakingly marshalled” and “hard to dispute”, the book demonstrates a clear relationship between inequality and a whole range of social ills. It shows, for example, that levels of imprisonment, drug abuse and mental illness are higher in unequal societies, and that levels of social mobility, trust and health are lower. Why? As the gap between rich and poor grows, society becomes more hierarchical, bonds of community break down and anxiety, rivalry and insecurity mount.

    And children in stratified societies are highly vulnerable to the effects. They are more likely to suffer from obesity, bullying, and low educational attainment; girls are more likely to become teenage mothers, boys to be drawn into violence. This inevitably blights the poorest most, which is why ‘child poverty’ should be expressed as a relative condition. If poverty means living on the wrong side of town, this study shows that it is markedly worse when ‘town’ is divided and segmented by income differences.

    But this does not just apply to the disadvantaged. High levels of relative poverty make everyone worse off. Take Unicef’s ranking of child well-being in twenty-one developed countries (in which the UK comes last); The Spirit Level reveals that this index correlates not - as one might expect - to average living standards, but to inequality. The book shows that its detrimental effects go right up the income scale.

    The CSJ argues that the relative child poverty measure “confuses poverty with inequality”, brushing aside the latter as “inevitable in a free society”. It calls for a focus on the “underlying causes of blighted young lives, such as family breakdown, welfare dependency and educational failure, rather than the symptoms of low relative income.” In doing so, it betrays an all-too common attitude: that the size of the gap per se has no bearing on the impoverished condition of those children at the bottom; that “the symptoms of low relative income” are fundamentally distinct from these broader social problems.

    The findings articulated by Wilkinson and Pickett in The Spirit Level show why anti-poverty policies built on these assumptions are doomed to fail. To tackle child poverty is to tackle the exclusion of young people from the common experiences and accepted living standards of a given society; a pernicious yet relative condition. Yet the CSJ’s comments exemplify a widespread ignorance of the social consequences of inequality in the UK (higher, and growing faster, than in almost any other developed economy). Addressing the awareness gap is a crucial first step to building a coalition to close the income gap.

    That is why a team led by Katharine Round are currently raising money to make The Spirit Level into an international documentary. Drawing inspiration from such agenda-setting titles as An Inconvenient Truth and The Age of Stupid, this promises to communicate the effects of inequality, on children and others, in a format that can be screened in cinemas and on television, spread via social networks and shown to policy-makers. The film will blend hard evidence with human tales from around the globe. The aims: spread the word, spark action, and achieve real, tangible change.

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