Review: Northern premiere The Divide

By April 16, 2016

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Images courtesy of Dartmouth Films & Literally Films

★★★★ “tender and authoritative” Total Film

Tuesday the 19th April at 6.30pm sees the northern premiere of The Divide, showing at The Hyde Park Picture House in the heart of Leeds. This intimate and quirky venue has long been a community favourite, and so it seems only fitting that it play host to the premiere of a film very much rooted in questioning notions of community within society.

Inspired by the best-selling book ‘The Spirit Level’, The Divide tells the story of 7 individuals striving for a better life in modern day USA and UK – where the top 0.1% owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%. By plotting these tales together, the film uncovers how virtually every aspect of our lives is controlled by one factor: the size of the gap between rich and poor. In a world where the CEO of Walmart earns 1,000 times the average income of his sales assistants, this documentary urges the reader to take a stand against the ego-driven economy which puts profit ahead of principles. This isn’t simply based on real life, this is real life. The film explores the tales of people from all walks of life, revealing a truth that a higher income doesn’t necessarily ensure happiness; inequality hurts us all – rich and poor. By weaving stories with news archives from 1979 to the present day, The Divide creates a lyrical, psychological and tragi-comic picture of how economic division creates social division. This deeply troubling documentary serves as both a call to arms, and a powerful warning.


The film is directed by Katharine Round, a British documentary filmmaker whose work explores big-picture concepts in an intimate and often psychological form. Born and bred in Leeds, she studied documentary filmmaking at the University of Leeds, before beginning her career at BBC Manchester. With 17 years’ experience in broadcast television and independent production, she has made films for the BBC, Channel 4 and Discovery, as well as screening at leading film festivals.

She also founded Literally Films, producing creative documentaries for the UK and international market. From devising crowd-funding strategies to working with broadcasters and campaigners worldwide, their aim is to make films that shine a light on important issues. In 2014 Literally Films became part of Disobedient, combining film, art and journalism to produce innovative works that disrupt traditional forms of storytelling.

Executive producer Christopher Hird has a similarly impressive résumé and is a leading figure in UK independent documentary making. He is the founder and managing director of Dartmouth Films, which has pioneered new ways of funding, producing and distributing documentaries in the UK, as well as promoting the work of new and emerging filmmakers. Previous films include Death of a Gentleman (2015), Still the Enemy Within (2014), John Pilger’s Utopia (2013) and Fire in the Blood (2012).

Discussing The Divide, Katharine Round said:

“There is no data in The Divide. There is no voice telling us what to think or what to do. The Divide is about seeing, and feeling, how very personal psychological levers are pulled in all of us by the dramatic shifts of income and wealth occurring under our noses”

Do not miss out on the chance to participate in a Q & A with Katharine herself on Tuesday the 19th April when the film is showing at the Hyde Park Picture House, in collaboration with Summat 2016. She will also be joined by a living wage campaigner. Details about tickets and further information can be found here.

THE DIVIDE is in UK cinemas from 22 April 2016
@thedividefilm @katharineround