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Breaking Down (18*)

Splash, Scratch, Dunk! Films Made by Hand

a girl's face surrounded by lights

This programme collects films with imagery produced by the artist purposefully eroding the photochemical emulsion on the surface of the filmstrip. 

These filmmakers achieve their effects by exposure, use of chemicals, or natural biological processes; they create new imagery, or alter pre-existing images and include complex ideas about decay and transformation.

Josh Lewis represents his inner feelings by generating imagery by applying chemicals to film stock under red light. Louise Bourque buried outtakes from her early films in her back garden; digging them up, she discovered images of herself, semi-preserved. The artist’s attempt to destroy and resurrect result in a kind of post-mortem self-portrait.  

Filmmakers Naomi Uman and Peggy Ahwesh, offer a feminist critique of patriarchal imagery, either purposefully eroding 1970s porn films or making the most of their natural state of chemical decay – further degrading, degraded images.

Total run time: 68 min approx

Please note:
- this programme contains flashing light and is not suitable for people with certain types of epilepsy.
- this programme includes scenes of real sex. 

Barbican Cinema has been supported by the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England which is administered by the BFI, as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund supporting arts and cultural organisations in England affected by the impact of Covid-19. #HereForCulture.

The words 'Here for Culture' in caps, with an outline of a square, corner point roughly north-facing, that ends once it meets the writing
The b&w logo for the BFI Film Audience Network


Doubt No. 2 (US 2013 Dir Josh Lewis 5 min 16mm sound) 

A Little Prayer (H-E-L-P) (Canada 2011 Dir Louise Bourque 8 min 35mm sound)

Removed (US 1999 Dir Naomi Uman 7 min 16mm sound) 

Waterfall (US 1967 Dir Chick Strand 3 min 16mm sound) 

The Colour of Love (US 1994 Dir Peggy Ahwesh 10 min 16mm sound) 

Further Radical (France 2020 Dir Stefano Canapa 7 min digital sound) 

Self Portrait Post Mortem (Canada 2002 Dir Louise Bourque 3 min digital sound) 

Girl on Fire (Australia 2010 Dir Tony Lawrence 2 min digital sound)

Twilight Psalm II: Walking Distance (US 1999 Dir Phil Solomon 23 min 16mm sound) 

See more film for less

Get 20% off tickets and pay no booking fees. Plus, enjoy priority booking and £6 Members’ Screenings of the latest films every Sunday (T&Cs apply)

Cinema Summer Special

Throughout July and August, on Thursdays and Fridays, you can book a film and enjoy a beer, wine or soft drink for the combined price of £13, plus 60p booking fee per online transaction. 

How to redeem

  • Select any film showing on a Thursday or Friday in June, July and August valid for this deal (excludes 3D films, ScreenTalks, Festivals and Event Cinema)
  • When purchasing your ticket, select 'Summer Drinks Offer' when prompted to select your ticket type
  • Present your e-ticket at the Cinema Cafe and Bar on Beech Street or Cinema 1 bar in the Centre to redeem


1) Bookable online only (not available at Barbican Cinema Box Office or over the phone).

2) Drink must be redeemed on the same day as the film is attended.

3) Not available for 3D films, ScreenTalks, Festivals or Event Cinema, Cinema On Demand or film screenings held outside of Cinema 1, 2 or 3. 

4) One drink (glass of house red or white wine, bottle of beer or soft drink) per ticket.

5) Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

6) Non-transferable and has no equivalent cash value.

7) Valid from Thu 1 Jul 2021 until Fri 27 August 2021 . 

8) £13 price excludes a 60p booking fee per transaction.

Barbican Cinema 1