‘Money Puzzles’ – coming soon!


LOGO smallFollowers of Putney Debater will be aware that I’ve been working on an ambitious new film, Money Puzzles, a sequel to Secret City (2012). That film was an investigation of the City of London—the square mile that has been described as ‘a state within a state’—made in the wake of the Occupy movement that concentrated attention on the City as the Vatican of financial capitalism. Where Secret City investigated a crucial institutional structure that remains largely invisible and shrouded in secrecy, the new film focuses on an everyday commodity–the commodity of commodities–the reality of which is hidden in plain sight.

Money Puzzles addresses the widespread misunderstandings about money and debt to be found in the media, everyday life and even university economics departments. It questions the illusory qualities of the myriad forms of money in the twenty-first century, along with the distortions and falsehoods about economics on which austerity politics is based. It asks about the role of debt as a form of control and coercion at international, national and household levels, and what happens when debts become unpayable. It also reports on alternative approaches variously found in the social solidarity movements in countries like Greece and Spain, complementary currencies in the UK, the international campaign for citizens debt audits, and the need for universal principles for sovereign debt restructuring recognised by the UN General Assembly last year.

It is not without irony that a film about money is constrained by lack of it: the subject matter of the film is necessary for making it. Working from an academic base but very much at the margins, with only small tranches of academic funding, we have nonetheless received some support in kind from colleagues (especially the Political Economy Research Centre (PERC) at Goldsmiths), and also ran a crowd-funder.

But if the film’s mode of production is determined by the structuring constraints of our lack of finances, the flexibility of digital video enables us to devise a working method that allows the film to grow by stages. We began by making a teaser to trigger discussion to help orient the film, which we showed several times. We have also made videos on Greece and Spain which we posted up as work-in-progress. See them on the film’s website here.




version español: Memoria interrumpida



A documentary about memory and politics in Argentina and Chile



A film about the City of London, the Corporation that governs it, and its role in the economic crisis. 

Directed by Michael Chanan – Written by Lee Salter

On 15 October 2011 anti-capitalist protestors, intending to set up camp in front of the London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square under the banner of Occupy LSX, were ejected from the square and parked themselves instead in front of St Paul’s Cathedral. The result was one of the starting points for this film: a highly public debate about capitalism and the Church.

But there was also another power acting in the shadows to eventually eject the Occupiers – the City of London Corporation. An ancient body which dates back before William the Conqueror, before there was a parliament in Westminster, which zealously guards its autonomy and privileges to this day.

This is the subject of Secret City: a state within a state, with deleterious effects on democracy, politics and economics in London, the country, and the world, for the City is the linchpin of global finance capital. In short, not just a film for Londoners—especially in these times of crisis, the role of the City concerns everyone everywhere.

Secret City had its premiere on October 16, 2012 at the House of Commons.

Available on DVD and streaming from E2 Films


Three Short Films About Chile

A trilogy by Michael Chanan made on a visit to Chile in November 2011.

1. Homage ・ 2. Community ・ 3. Protest
2012, 34mns 

Three glimpses of Chile in 2011. Homage is a visit to Valparaiso. Community is a portrait of
Población La Victoria and its community television station, Señal 3. Protest is an account 
of the momentous student protest movement—the occupations, marches, demonstrations, 
street actions and web activism—and its tremendous impact on the country’s political life, 
as they denounce the most intensely privatised education system in the world, demand the 
return of free public education, and question the legitimacy of actually existing democracy in Chile.


Chronicle of Protest: the film


(UK 2011) dir. Michael Chanan 90m. Digital.

A video diary about the movement against
government spending cuts in the universities and beyond
with students, activists and citizens of the real big society.

Featuring Terryl Bacon, Terry Eagleton, Mehdi Hasan, Joe Kelleher, Josie Long,
Len McCluskey, Blake Morrison, Paul O’Prey, Nina Power, Michael Rosen,
Lee Salter, Clifford Singer, Sly and Reggie, Mary Warnock and more.

With songs by Banner Theatre.

In collaboration with the New Statesman and Roehampton University.

Premiered Sat 30 April 2011 • East End Film Festival


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