English quirks, Islamic traditions and a walk through Bury Park – life in Luton is explored in a new film which premieres next week.
Someone Else’s Shoes is the brainchild of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and it asks ten very different people what living in Luton means to them.
Manzoor grew up in the town and maintains a fascination with its cultural mix, even years after leaving it himself.
He said: “I’m from Luton but I wanted to do something that wasn’t based on my thoughts, but instead the people who live there.
“People often talk about Luton being a town of different communities who don’t all get on. I was interested to see if I could get inside of other people’s shoes.”
Manzoor worked with artist Dominic Allan and together they rounded up ten Lutonians from diverse backgrounds and asked the same set of questions.
This included what they thought about Luton, their heritage and British identity.
In a twist, the interview transcripts were then swapped around and each person was filmed reading out the answers from someone else.
The result is a unique justaposition, with a white man describing being from an Asian background and a British Pakistani talking about being uncomfortable with the attitude of some Asians.
But the film is more than a gimmick of mismatching voices and faces. Manzoor says it reveals a deeper meaning with stems from the viewer’s reaction.
“It makes you think about what we’ve got in common and how other people think about us.
“One of the questions I ask is ‘what do you think about Bury Park’ and what’s interesting is Asian people were saying, ‘even as an Asian it’s a bit weird’.”
Experimental and at times abstract, Manzoor says its possible to draw some definite conclusions from the short film.
“Luton is a lot more integrated than it appears. I thought that was a really important point.
“And I think the most important point is, if you surround yourself with people like you, then anything that’s different will always feel strange.”
Someone Else’s Shoes premieres on Tuesday, May 31 at 5.30pm at the University of Bedforshire’s School of Art & Design on Guildford Street.
Entry is free but to reserve a place, email firstname.lastname@example.org.