Nightcleaners; film still image
Berwick Street Film Collective
Nightcleaners film still

Nightcleaners (Part 1)

Berwick Street Film Collective, UK 1972–5, 16 mm, 90 min

Nightcleaners (Part 1) is a documentary film about the campaign to unionise the women who cleaned office blocks at night and who were being victimised and underpaid by their employers. It was made by members of the Berwick Street Film Collective (Marc Karlin, Mary Kelly, James Scott and Humphry Trevelyan), who originally intended to make a campaign film but instead were forced to turn to new forms of filmmaking in order to represent the forces at work between the cleaners, the Cleaner’s Action Group and the unions – and the complex nature of the campaign itself.

The result was an intensely self-reflexive film, which implicated both the filmmakers and the audience in the processes of precarious, invisible labour. It is increasingly recognised as a key work of the 1970s and as an important precursor, in both subject matter and form, to current political art practice.

The screening of Nightcleaners by Berwick Street Film Collective is presented on the occasion of Work like this, a free public discussion around precarious labour, visibility and domestic work with presentations by Andrea Franke, Werkermagazine (Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos) and Justice for Domestic Workers.

Nightcleaners print courtesy LUX

Tate Film is supported by Maja Hoffmann / LUMA Foundation