The Art of Repair is a short film narrated by comedian Stewart Lee that focuses on the lives of people who mend things, seen through the eyes of small business owners in Hackney.
Its director is 29-year-old Will Stewart, who started out with the bicycle repair website MadeGood.bikes before branching out into film with his own production company MadeGood.films.
The inspiration for the film developed from Stewart’s love of machinery. “It made sense to make a film about repair!” he says. “I used to be a university researcher working in international development and technology, so repair and hands-on mechanics have always been interests of mine.”
Hackney has a long tradition of artisan craftsmanship and repair, but in recent years the familiar landscape of low-rise workshops and light industrial buildings have made way for more lucrative, high-rise residential abodes.
Although Stewart is a bike repair specialist, the film does not focus on that particular profession. Instead, he chose to film people in different vocations such as mechanics, upholsters and instrument repairers – people who see their work as a way of life.
“There are lots of shops like these around where I live, so I suppose it’s chance that I chose those shops in particular,” he says.
“Apart from JC Motors that is. Len has been fixing my dad’s car for as long as I can remember so I knew those guys previously!”
The film won the Prodigy Auteur Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival in 2013, an award given only to the highest calibre of documentaries.
And has Stewart’s life changed since his win? “Not much! I didn’t know I’d been accepted into the festival until I’d be told I’d won.”
Watch the film below or at madegood.org/films
This short film was produced by MadeGood.films. Sound mix by Leaf Troup, music written by Jon Cefai & Joe Coen Evans. MadeGood provide free advice on bicycle maintenance. You can also follow MadeGood on twitter – @MadeGoodBikes