RAY & LIZ
Director: Richard Billingham
Producer: Jacqui Davies
Director of Photography: Daniel Landin BSC
Shooting 30th January - 18th February 2017
RAY & LIZ is Turner-prize nominated and Deutsche Börse Prize winning artist Richard Billingham’s first feature film. Working with cinematographer Daniel Landin, Richard returns to the striking photographs that he captured of his family during Thatcher-era Britain to tell a universal story of everyday conflicts, loneliness, love and loss.
On the outskirts of Birmingham and the margins of society the Billingham family perform extreme rituals and break cultural taboos as they muddle through a life decided by factors beyond their control. At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, three-interlinking episodes unfold as a powerful evocation of the artist’s personal experience of growing up in a Black Country council flat.
We raised £20,465 through our Kickstarter campaign (10 February – 18 March 2016), through the support of 153 backers to fund the development of RAY & LIZ.
See the campaign here
RAY & LIZ is a concentration of my own lived experience of growing up in a tower block council flat during Thatcher-era Britain. By sticking true to real life, lived experience and observation I want to recreate a world that can only have come about from my being a witness to it.
Throughout the film Ray and Liz’s relationship is tested by poverty, addiction and being sold short of the better things in life. But against a framework of this I also want to show a world unseen. In the early 90s I began photographing my father Ray, with the intention of making paintings. I grew increasingly interested in the photographs, in composition, mood, texture, shape and form.
It was not my intention to shock, to offend, sensationalise, or be political, only to make work that is truthful. RAY & LIZ is a natural progression from previous photography and video work about my family.
In 1990, alcohol makes Richard's father Ray a prisoner in his own bedroom. Ray’s estranged wife Liz and neighbour Sid battle for control of Ray, who remains hopeful that Liz will return to him if he manipulates her through his self-destruction.
A decade or so earlier, Richard’s younger brother Jason – then three years old – is left alone with his hapless Uncle Lol. The lodger tricks Lol into drinking the stash of alcohol hidden in the house and neglecting Jason. Liz violently punishes him upon her return.
In 1985 Jason, now 10 years old, goes out with a friend on Bonfire Night but can’t find his way home and ends up sleeping in a shed. He is finally taken into care. When a social worker breaks the news to Ray and Liz, Liz cries a little, but quickly forgets…