I sent this email to the local press this morning and copied the
Leader and CEO of the Council. I have also separately emailed Nick Walkley, Richard Cornelius and Robert Rams (Libraries boss) to offer a private viewing of the film, so that they can see how unjustified this ban really is.
I cannot hide my disappointment at the actions of the Council, which are reminiscent of the worst examples of artistic censorship in Soviet Russia. Is a Conservative Council really prepared to tell us what we can and cannot watch?
Here is the text of the letter.
We have had a report that Barnet Council have ordered the removal of all posters advertising the Premier of A Tale of Two Barnets from all Barnet Libraries. Apparently an email was sent by H***** R***** (name redacted by me) [Divisional library manger, Children & Young People].
This move is quite extraordinary, given that the Leader of the Council Richard Cornelius and the Chief executive of Barnet Council Nick Walkley appear in the film and were more than happy to cooperate with the making of the film. Both Richard Cornelius and Nick Walkley have been featured in the film giving talking about the Borough, the green spaces and their aspirations for the way it will develop. The film "A Tale of Two Barnets" has been made by American Film Director Charles Honderick, who is not affiliated with any UK political party or organisation. Linda Edwards, who is helping to organise the film and appears in it, has written to all Barnet Councillors asking them to attend. We sincerely hope that as many as possible come along. I am sure that when they see the film, they will agree that this ban is ridiculous. Mr Walkley is also invited and I suspect he'll be happy with how he is portrayed.
We presume that the action by Barnet Council is in response to the Barnet Trades Council agreeing to help stage the premier of the film at the Phoenix and by heavy promotion of the film by the people who appeared in the film promoting the views they expressed. This response from the Council is deplorable and shows a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the film Charles Honderick has made. Nobody who appears in the film (including Mr Walkley and Mr Cornelius) has been portrayed in anything other than an honest and sympathetic manner. The film is of genuine interest to anyone who lives in Barnet and is interested in the area, as well as anyone who may be interested in the wider issues portrayed. When people talk about the problems encountered in dealing with the Council, Mr Walkley is featured explaining how he has to make difficult decisions and how he has the job of balancing the issues. Councillor Corneilius explains how he is limited in the scope for making changes and talks of his affection for the green spaces in the Borough. Both Mr Walkley and Councillor Cornelius were supplied with the questions before the interview with Charles and a Council Press officer was present to ensure that the protocol was followed.
If the council has taken this decision, purely because it doesn't agree with an independent film maker interviewing residents of Barnet, then this is deplorable.
Finally may I clarify my role in the film. I joined Charles project in the role of producer. The job of Producer is to obtain funding and make sure the film gets made. I operate a music rehearsal and multi media facility in Mill Hill. In April we are opening a video and photographic studio, hopefully generating jobs in Barnet. I got involved as a means of promoting the new division of our company. I have supported Charles in every way I can and used all of my contacts to try and ensure that the film is successful. I have not been responsible for the artistic content of the film or the editing, although I have assisted Charles with several technical issues. I documented this in this blog - http://barneteye.blogspot.com/2012/02/tale-of-two-barnets-film-you-really.html - Anyone who has worked with Charles will know that he has very strong ideas about his projects and the idea that anyone could tell him what to do in a film he's directed is ridiculous. I will be writing to all Barnet Councillors today to ask them to support the removal of this Stalinist attempt to stifle creativity and freedom of expression in Barnet. I find it truly bizzare that such an action has been taken by a Conservative Council.
I call on Barnet to remove this offensive ban on artistic freedom in Barnet.
Please note that Charles Honderick asked me to send this on his behalf as well. He is currently in Greece researching his next project.