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Film Locations
Nicky Hamlyn
Film Locations
Ian Bourn's video monologue Lenny's Documentary (1978), shot in the same area as Blight, but made many years earlier, establishes initial expectations about genre and form through its title, but these are rapidly dispelled.

Bourn/Lenny sits behind a desk and delivers a long, often repetitive diatribe which mocks the contrived spontaneity of the TV "piece to camera", in which the narrator walks through a location, while delivering a tightly worded speech to the viewer.

Lenny plays with his script, fumbles for cigarettes, and composes and recomposes himself as he talks at length about a handful of key characters and institutions to which the narrative is reduced. It is an insider's view, too subjective to be an ordinary documentary, which focuses comically on the relationship between the filmmaker and his subject.

An unmoving camera records Lenny as he painstakingly distils his views into a sequence of acerbic vignettes, in which hilariously obtuse bodily metaphors are deployed: Leytonstone High Road, for example, becomes "the urethra of London". Local landmarks; E&T Motors, the State Cinema: "formally a Bingo Hall, formerly a different kind of cinema", Harrow Green, Claybury mental institute, Whipps Cross Hospital, the outdoor swimming pool, are listed in a sarcastic drawl. Occasionally Lenny refers directly to his own contributions to the area's blighted character: "forgive me father I have twisted back the windscreen wipers of parked cars". As for the denizens of Leytonstone, they are all, in the end: "either on their way to Claybury, In Claybury or they're outpatients".

The tape concludes abruptly with a travelling shot down the High Road, giving us an unexpected glimpse of an endless, non-descript row of terraced housing, interspersed with petrol stations and second hand furniture emporia. Lenny's Documentary is placed between Leytonstone ("land of a thousand fuckers"), "Lenny"/Bourn and the making process itself. As such, it raises a more general question about what all documentaries are to some extent about, which is the prejudices and obsessions of their makers.

Still from Lenny's Documentary by Ian Bourn, 1978
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