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Film Review: Secret City (2012)

I recently attended the premiere of the new film directed by Michael Chanan and written by Lee Salter about the City of London and the Corporation that runs it.

Whilst on my way to the premiere I had the thought that people are considered conspiracy theorists whenever they discuss particularly shady organisations or antics openly. I find that although there are many accusations of conspiracy, this over-shadows the fact that occasionally, conspiracies do really occur.

This is the point Chanan and Salter’s Secret City  film seeks to address. The film that comes in at just over 70 minutes is essentially an investigation into the City of London Corporation, which, unbeknown to the majority, pre-dates Parliament and is a ridiculously powerful and well-connected institution.

The film itself is very well made and thought out. It begins by tackling what people’s conceptions and knowledge (if existent) on the Corporation are, and this is demonstrated via a series of interviews. The scary fact is that not many people actually have a clue about this topic, which really gives kudos to the relevance and importance of Secret City  within the public sphere.

It covers very important facts about the Corporation, from its beginnings as a city secluded from the rest of the country, to its position spearheading slavery and creating global capitalism. Big questions such as why the banks are saved and put before the general well-being of the people are answered, and it flags up the Corporation’s involvement in giving big businesses multiple votes within our democratic society.

On the little coverage of this institution, Director Michael Chanan has said “I’m a Londoner born and bred, but like most of us, I grew up knowing very little about the stuff we’ve uncovered in making this film.”

On a budget of less than £10,000, Secret City  manages to not only inform and enlighten the viewer, but presents the viewer with a decision to make. Do you as a person continue to let an archaic organisation rule the financial and political scene increasing the divide between the poor and the excessively rich? Or do you start to pay attention to something that is very much real, and is operating with a different level of secrecy and legality to the rest of our government and society?

Anyone who watches Secret City  will appreciate the level of transparency it has given to such important subject matter, but the content is not the only strength of this informing piece of work. The camera work displays the beauty of some of the most iconic architecture within London, whilst the soundtrack is extremely fitting with the City of London itself, providing a perfectly themed mix of classic songs from throughout the City’s history.

Secret City  is a huge first step to bringing one of the most influential Corporations into the limelight and whilst this is a monumental achievement, it should be just the beginning. There is far too much content to fit into one documentary and hopefully the success of bringing forth such a paramount cause in the interest of the public, will not only spark of some kind of sequel, but will actively rally attention to this one Corporation that has such great impact on every one of our lives.

Protect your rights and get involved!

To find out more about Secret City visit the official website at:

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