Four Corners was formed in 1973 by four young filmmakers - Joanna Davis, Mary Pat Leece, Ronald Peck and Wilfried Thust - the name based on the fact that they came from all four corners of the world. They sought to develop independent filmmaking, both at the level of production and what was on the screen, and bring films and filmmaking to those who had previously been excluded from the whole practice. At 113 Roman Road in Bethnal Green, they created a cinema and production workshop, screening films to local audiences.
The organisation was provisionally franchised under the Channel Four Workshop Agreement in the 1980s, producing films such as Bred and Born, Hang On A Minute and Is That It? among others. Nighthawks (dir. Ron Peck/Paul Hallam 1979) was Britain’s first gay feature film, and East London filmmaker Ruhul Amin’s A Kind of English, (Channel 4 in 1986), was the first Bangladeshi feature film to be made in Britain.
After Channel 4 funding ceased in the mid-1980s, Four Corners became a production and training resource, supporting BAFTA and Turner prize nominees alongside local artists and trainees. The small raked cinema at 113 Roman Road held monthly screenings of filmmakers' work, much of it cut upstairs in the edit suites. From the 1990s Four Corners became particularly well-known for its high-quality, free industry training scheme for unemployed people, often from non-traditional backgrounds.
In 2003 Four Corners was granted 121 Roman Road by Arts Council England to reopen the darkrooms and gallery formerly run by Camerawork, an organisation with a complementary history. A £1m build project to provide a new centre for both film and photography was supported by the Arts Council England, London Development Agency, European Regional Development Fund, Film London and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The impressive new centre opened in 2007, providing a flexible and accessible public space including training rooms, darkrooms, edit suites and gallery, all under an environmentally friendly ‘green’ sedum roof.
Four Corners is a unique arts organisation for practitioners working in film and photography, providing a dynamic learning, production and exhibition environment where filmmakers, photographers, artists, trainees and local people work together. Specialist programmes support around 500 people a year, with large audiences attending the gallery exhibitions, talks and events.