Artist and Oscar-winning director’s harrowing short will run from 7 April

grenfell (3)

Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen’s harrowing short film showing the devastation left in the wake of 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire is to get a month of public screenings at the Serpentine Gallery from early April.

McQueen, who grew up in west London, shot aerial footage of the block where 72 lives were lost six months after the disaster and completed the film in 2019. The 24-minute film is a single shot and features only ambient sound. Its images include close-up footage of fire ravaged flats where forensics officers in PPE are still working.

The film was made before the now-familiar white wrap was placed around the 24-storey building.

McQueen said he had visited Grenfell Tower for the first time in the early 1990s and made the film as a way to keep the true horror of the fire and resulting loss of life prominent in public memory.

“When I heard about the fire, I needed to do something. I was in pain like many other people at witnessing a tragedy that simply did not have to happen, yet did due to deliberate neglect,” he wrote in the exhibition guide for the film.

“The question for me at the time was, how do I engage with this tragedy? The only thing I could think of was to visit the building again, after nearly 30 years.

“I feared once the tower was covered up it would only be a matter of time before it faded from the public’s memory. In fact, I imagine there were people who were counting on that being the case.

“I was determined that it never be forgotten. So, my decision was made for me. Remember.”

The first phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry found refurbishment work that added new aluminium composite material cladding and combustible insulation gave the building an exterior that not only failed to “adequately resist the spread of fire”, as required by building regulations, but “actively promoted it”.

The second phase of the inquiry, which is probing the commercial and institutional failings that led the disaster, is due to report its findings later this year.

Grenfell is being screened at the Serpentine’s South Gallery from 7 April to 10 May. Tickets are free and can be booked here.