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Secret City
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10 from 34 votes
Release: 16 October 2012 (UK) /

Secret City

Genre: Documentary
Director: Michael Chanan,
Synopsis: London and the City of London are not the same place. London is a metropolis of 8 million people. The City of London is the famous square mile in the middle, with about 7,000 residents but many more businesses. A Corporation older than Parliament, the City of London has played a key historical role in protecting and promoting the interests of finance capital. Secret City investigates the power wielded by the Corporation of London over British economic policy, through which it sustains London's prime position at the hub of global finance capital - not least through control of the majority of the world's tax havens. The film exposes the Corporation's anti-democratic constitution, the ancient laws which allow it function as a state within a state, and thus to promote an illusory promise of economic growth at the cost of the real economy. Secret City questions the Corporation's role through contributions from Londoners, including scholars, an MP, a businessman, Church people and activists... Written by Lee Salter

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Critic Reviews

There are some films that make you angry because they tell you things you didn't know and make you feel that you've been cheated - this is one of them.

I'd heard of the Corporation of London but only in street signs. To find out that they're a centre for tax avoidance, they have people in Parliament and their role in causing the financial crisis made me furious and eager to find out more.

The film has a really useful historical contextualisation for the first part, using a wide range of interesting interviewees whilst weaving in a tour of the city and plenty of really good archive footage. It leave you in no doubt as to where the City's power is derived from historically.

The human-interest angle is explained by "victims" of the Corporation whose attempts simply to be democratic were thwarted as well as by reflections of Vicars (yes, really - some of the most interesting characters in the film), workers and of course the human impact of the current crisis.

There were one or two problems with camera focus on occasion but then if it's true (as I heard at a Q&A) that it was done with no money at all, I can forgive them that as it fits with the aesthetics of radical documentary anyway. The music is sufficiently haunting to stay with you for a few days, which is a great effect.

It's a really complex film in many respects, which means I had to watch it more than once to really understand but I'd recommend it really highly to anyone who wants to really understand what's going on in the world and why!

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