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Bata-ville: We are not afraid of the future

location: Tilbury, Essex / Maryport, Cumbria / Zlin, Czech Republic

date: 2002-10-01

Bata-ville Film

Bata-ville is a bittersweet record of a unique English coach trip across Europe to the origins of the Bata shoe empire in Zlin. Against the backdrop of economic regeneration in their local communities, former employees of the now-closed UK shoe factories in East Tilbury and Maryport are led on a journey that sees them reflect on their shared history and on what their future may hold back at home.

Tomas Bata - the Henry Ford of Eastern Europe - was a visionary whose achievements are now seldom acknowledged outside his native country. Bata's ambition that his workers 'work collectively, live individually' inspired the design of Zli­n as a Utopian village to serve their needs - a functionalist prototype replicated across the globe, including, in 1932, at East Tilbury in England, now a protected Conservation Area despite the demise of the factory that was once at the village's heart.

Together this unorthodox coach party traces Bata's legacy on the journey towards Zli­n - a journey which spans the shop floor of his remaining European factory in the Netherlands; the influential Ateliery Bonton animation studios he founded, and the airfield at which he died.
Inspired by the contrast between Bata's idealism and the more recent industrial decline of East Tilbury and Maryport, host / directors Pope & Guthrie immerse their passengers in an experience that begins as a free holiday but soon becomes an opportunity for a collective imagining of what Bata's inspirational maxim 'We are not afraid of the future' means for them in 21st century Britain.


Image: production still by John Podpadec



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+ Despoina Sevasti and Poka-Yio
+ Erden Kosova
+ Helmut Batista


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