The urgent story of Elephant & Castle’s changing social landscape through the voices of Latin American immigrant families. We unearth shopkeepers’ forgotten memories from a community being pushed aside by high-rises.
"Elephant Families" cuenta la relevante historia del cambio demográfico de Elephant & Castle a través de las voces de familias inmigrantes latinoamericanas.
A wave of regeneration is hitting London's working-class boroughs.
The emblematic Elephant & Castle shopping centre has been demolished. Once the epicentre for Latin American communities, its disappearance has forced people to find new means of survival, relying on their community as a backbone.
Delancey property developers and ‘progressive’ arts university conglomerate, UAL, tore down the shopping centre as part of their scheme to turn Elephant & Castle into a ‘new town centre’.
In Elephant Families, we hear the stories of the community that is being pushed out. The tragic hope of a displaced shopkeeper. The relentless rhythm of cumbia folk songs. The crackling of a freshly fried empanada. We are taken on the neighbourhood’s emotional journey through intimate stories of migration. The cultural nest they have created in Elephant, a home away from home, is vital for their coexistence in the city.
Una ola de regeneración está impactando los barrios obreros de Londres.
El emblemático centro comercial de Elephant & Castle ha sido demolido. Considerado un epicentro de comunidades latinoamericanas.
Los promotores inmobiliarios Delancey y la ‘progresiva’ universidad de artes UAL han derribado el centro comercial.
En Elephant Families, escuchamos las historias de la comunidad que está siendo expulsada. Nos vemos inmersos en un viaje emocional del vecindario a través de los íntimos testimonios de la migración. El cultural que han creado en Elephant, un hogar lejos de casa, es vital para su convivencia en la ciudad.
Amplifying Latin American voices
Latin stories rarely reach the mainstream in spite of their growing role in shaping contemporary British culture. Elena was drawn to Latin culture as she saw their solidarity in the metropolitan city: lengthy video calls to loved ones thousands of miles away, dance nights sprouting from every corner through the thick of the winter, counting every pound to be able to send a portion home.
When Elena & the team started visiting Elephant Road weekly, they were witnesses to the comforting sensation that the people they spoke to trusted them in sharing their stories. They weren’t scared of change, they embraced the eventualities; they didn’t blame the economic difficulties on the developers, who they recognised were ‘elegantly pushing them out’. They focused on the fruits of their labours and were confident about the future.
Conceived with and for local residents, our aim is to connect the new high-rise buildings to connect gentrifiers with long-standing neighbours.
Our long-term involvement with the community and the network of support we have constructed with the cast will lend to a compelling result. As a predominantly female Spanish-speaking crew, we have a deep understanding of our contributors’ perspectives.
The previous documentaries on the topic would only appeal to people who are inherently interested in social justice. We have identified the need to bridge the gap between the subject matter of what’s happening right under our noses and the style and aesthetic to bring it to a wider, indie film festival audience, often exposed to socio-political issues from afar, but rarely confronted by the problems of their own neighbours.
Las historias de la diáspora latinoamericana raramente llegan al público mainstream a pesar de su influencia en la cultura británica contemporánea. Elena se sintió atraída por la cultura latina al ver su solidaridad en medio del caos de Londres. Largas videollamadas a seres queridos, noches de fiesta en cada esquina con sol o lluvia, el esfuerzo de contar cada penique para poder mandar soporte financiero de vuelta a sus países.
Cuando el equipo empezó a visitar Elephant Road semanalmente, sentimos la acogedora sensación de que las personas que conocíamos tenían todo el tiempo del mundo para contarnos sus historias y puntos de vista. No tienen miedo al cambio, han aceptado lo que está ocurriendo, no culpan a las inmobiliarias de sus dificultades económicas… Aunque reconocen que que les están ‘echando elegantemente’ del barrio. Se enfocan en los frutos de su esfuerzo, confiando en el futuro.
Concebido con y para los residentes locales, con Elephant Families nuestro objetivo es conectar los nuevos residentes de los rascacielos con los antiguos vecinos del barrio.
A través de nuestra implicación a largo plazo con la comunidad y la red de soporte que hemos construido con los miembros del reparto, confiamos en obtener un resultado concluyente. Con un equipo predominantemente de mujeres hispanohablantes, buscamos entender la complejidad de las perspectivas de los protagonistas.
Los documentales previos que tratan de este tema, suelen apelar a un público interesado en la justicia social. Hemos identificado la necesidad de representar la realidad que tenemos ante nuestros ojos con ambición estética para llegar a una audiencia más amplia. Muchos de los frecuentadores de festivales de cine independiente están expuestos a asuntos sociopolíticos de lugares lejanos, pero raramente se enfrentan a los problemas los problemas de sus propios vecinos.
Why we need your help
In order to produce and tell this story we need £10,000. Filming equipment is not free; while we’re keeping the budget frugal, to successfully cross over into the festival scene we need to have access to industry-standard equipment.
We’ve spoken to relevant charities and collaborators. They believe in the importance of this story. But the economic climate means they are unable to support us financially.
To achieve the impact the story deserves, we need your help.
Here is how we plan to spend our budget:
Por qué necesitamos vuestra ayuda
Para poder producir este documental y contar esta historia, necesitamos 10.000 libras. El equipo de filmación no es gratis y, aunque tratamos de mantener los costos bajos, necesitamos tener acceso a un equipo profesional para tener la oportunidad de llegar al público de los festivales de cine.
Estamos en contacto con organizaciones benéficas relevantes que creen en la importancia de esta historia. Pero la situación económica actual les impide poder ayudarnos financieramente.
Para conseguir el impacto que esta historia merece, necesitamos vuestra ayuda. Aquí podéis encontrar el presupuesto detallado:
Risks and Challenges
With the current macroeconomic situation and the pandemic’s hangover, securing funding for independent projects has become increasingly difficult. We are mitigating this risk by looking for funding from a range of sources.
Without reaching our crowdfunding target, it will be difficult to secure the necessary crew, kit and resources to take the film through production, post-production and the festival circuit. We are mitigating this risk by ensuring our budget is flexible.
The documentary relies on local traders’ willingness to share their experiences. Therefore we are exposed to the risk that they are wary about speaking to outsiders. By building trust through months of visits and honest conversations, we have built friendships that go beyond the scope of the project.
By becoming a supporter of our project, you will play a crucial role in the creation of Elephant Families. You will receive updates on every step of the process and unique insights into our day-to-day, granting you early access to behind-the-scenes material.
We are thrilled to be collaborating with Discordia, an independent, female-founded studio and production company that focuses on creating and supporting projects by those who can seek refuge in images. With work selected in Sundance, Tribeca and the Berlinale, community impact is at the heart of every project.
Another key collaborator is Blend Films, an independent British & Colombian production company based in London. Blend bring a unique blend of insider’s understanding of the subject matter and industry expertise to our partnership.
Elena Escalante - Director
Elena is a Spanish writer, director and creative producer with a passion for storytelling that transcends the medium. The narratives she constructs revolve around family, class, politics and relationships in worlds estranged from the one we know.
As a producer, she has worked with Netflix, the BBC and the British Library, conceiving graphics from art direction to delivery.
The latest short film she directed, The Other Home, was showcased at the Lift-Off Film Festival held in Pinewood Studios, and stands out with her multi-layered approach where dreams take over reality.
Through migrating from Spain, collecting experiences and delving into South London’s diversity of communities, her time living in Elephant & Castle has drawn her towards the specificity of stories within the Hispanic diaspora.
Sophie McDonald - Producer
Sophie was born in Hong Kong and raised in Madrid giving her a unique perspective that has enriched her work. Sophie has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry including Robert Zemeckis and Barry Jenkins, on highly anticipated projects like Pinocchio (2022) and Mufasa (2024).
Sophie has a deep love of sharing people’s stories, particularly those of Latin American descent. With a degree in Hispanic Studies and her experiences of living in Spain and Chile have given her an understanding of the Spanish language and Hispanic stories of migration.
She is currently also producing Santi, an original feature. The film is based on a British & Colombian short that was selected for the prestigious BFI Future Film Festival.
Nelisa Alcalde - Director of Photography
Nelisa is a talented and accomplished Cinematographer hailing from the city of Córdoba, Spain. She honed her craft at the prestigious FAMU, specialising in capturing the raw essence of analogue film formats.
Nelisa's is known for her exceptional body of work and boasts notable pieces such as Honey Bunny Duracell, which awarded Nelisa the Best Cinematography Student Award by the esteemed Czech Society of Cinematographers. She is also known for co-directing and shooting a BBC documentary entitled Isabel's Independence.
Nelisa is inspired by the strong sense of community in Elephant and their stories of resilience and connection in the face of displacement.
Danny Rumbelow - 1st AD
Danny is an experienced 1st AD with a strong background in film production. Of British and Colombian heritage, Danny is drawn to Elephant Families, as it tackles the need for greater Latinx representation in British cinema, a cause close to his heart.
Throughout his career, he has honed his skills by working on music promos and commercials, gaining expertise in his field and working with some of the biggest names in the game. Alongside his work as a 1st AD, Danny is also a founding member of Blend Films, a production company recognised for its innovative and high-quality work.
Lina Álvarez - Production Manager
Lina, originally from Colombia, relocated to London at 12. Armed with a degree in Film and English Studies, she has worked on a wealth of short films, music videos, VFX films and web series in the Directing and Camera department.
Elephant Families carries a special significance, resonating deeply with Lina's upbringing inside the vibrant Latin Community in Kennington, and being a firsthand witness to the transformation of Elephant & Castle.
Clàudia Orriols - Production Assistant
Claudia is an aspiring Spanish writer and director. Since moving to the UK and studying Film Production at Ravensbourne, she has been involved in creating and producing commercials and short films.
Her projects explore the representation and examination of the female gaze. Whilst her passion lies on the creative side of projects, she has recently been focusing on gaining hands-on experience in the Production department.
Nicole Díaz - Researcher
Nicole, a London-raised second-generation Afro-Colombian, currently studying to become an actor. Her upbringing has provided her with a unique perspective on Colombian migration to London, inspiring her to tell these stories through films.
She has always loved exploring other realities through fiction but has always thought the lack of diversity in film didn’t reflect the diverse community she belongs to.
Driven by a desire to enrich the cinematic landscape with greater representation, Nicole brings her vision to life in our project Elephant Families, where she plays a pivotal role in building a community platform while proudly showcasing rich Colombian heritage.
Tomás Fernández Vértiz - Editor
Tomás Fernández Vértiz (b. 1994, Mexico City, Mexico) is a bold and innovative artist who is at the forefront of contemporary photography and moving image art currently based in Madrid, Spain.
Tomas is known for his powerful photographic and documentary (El Sentir De Las Montañas) work that explores the complex interplay between landscape, community, and migration. He is fascinated by the ways in which these three elements intersect and influence one another.
Through documentary-style photography and observational video, Tomas invites viewers to enter into the worlds of the people and places he depicts and to gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances in which they exist.
Benja Schweimler - Sound Recordist
Of English & Argentinian heritage, Benja spent his formative years living between Argentina and Cuba, until finally settling in London. Despite living outside of Latin America for 8 years, his roots remain at the heart of the projects he chooses.
Graduating from the NFTS in 2021, he quickly immersed himself in his field, lending his expertise as a sound recordist and assistant to prominent players in the industry. With credits on projects such as Guy Ritchie's The Covenant, and more recently, Rings of Power.
Bo Borthwick - Social Media Manager
Bo is our social media manager and works with local charities in London supporting young refugees. Having studied ‘participatory documentary’, Bo was attracted to Elephant Families' approach to involve the community throughout the film.
By confronting themes of displacement and ongoing social issues, she believes in the film as a tool for encouraging conversation around gentrification and the untold stories that come with it.
Thank you for taking the time to read our campaign and a huge thank you for your support!
Un abrazo del equipo!
*UK shipping only for rewards