You Always Think There’s Nothing There

The Damned Rebel Bitches & Chris Bowman

Scotland 2010

The Damned Rebel Bitches are a self-organised social history group of mature women based in Edinburgh who conduct research into overlooked aspects of women’s history- be it individual women of achievement who have been undeservedly forgotten, or those ordinary women whose testimonies never made the official accounts.

Restoring such women to historical memory is in itself a morally significant act. The present is only built from the history we remember. We can only learn from the precedents it offers us, for better and worse, if we know them.

This applies as much to personal memory. Age has the advantage of experience in its own memory banks, the chance to mediate the challenges of today through what you learned, maybe the hard way, in your own youth- which, after the age of forty, becomes itself a historical era.

In You Always Think There’s Nothing There, The Damned Rebel Bitches have set out to recover memories and accounts of poverty that haven’t made the history books, as lived by themselves, their contacts, and the people they came across in making this:

The stories of individuals who, feeling themselves abandoned by institutional solutions or state initiatives, banded together to take on the problems in their own communities that come with poverty- poor environment, social neglect, lack of opportunity, and what follows, loss of hope.

Their stories mesh into a larger one that perhaps says something about the Edinburgh behind the glamorous façades of tourism, culture and sanctioned history, built as much on the lives of those who strive daily against the stacked cards of the poverty trap for their own communities. This makes it a story about self respect.

By featuring some of these voices in this film, The Damned Rebel Bitches are hopefully contributing to one version of a living history that deserves and even needs to be remembered. To learn from the past, you have to know the past. To combat poverty tomorrow, you have to know what it was yesterday. This is about as real and relevant as history gets.

The Damned Rebel Bitches:

  • Rose Gavin
  • Nancy Comber
  • Ruby Norman
  • Georgia March
  • Marianne Hendry
  • Rose Minto

North Edinburgh Participants:

  • Roberta Blaikie
  • Ian Moore

South Edinburgh Participants:

  • Matt Wheatley
  • Chris Mahoney

Thanks to:

  • Paul Gavin (archive footage Oxgangs flats)
  • Lynn McCabe, Community Learning & Development, The Prentice Centre
  • Stan Reeves / John Player, ALP, Tollcross Community Centre
  • Elizabeth Bryan, WEA Scotland
  • John McGaughie, Living Memory Association
  • Alison Miller, North Edinburgh Trust
  • Billy, Violet, and John, Fuel Poverty Action Group
  • Paula Larkin
  • Ann Vance

Filmmaker: Chris Bowman

Chris Bowman is a filmmaker, writer and sound designer who also works as a freelance editor and lecturer/tutor. His work has been shown widely at assorted European and British film festivals. In 2002/2003 he was EMARE resident at the Werkleitz Gesellschaft Media Lab in Germany. His film afterlife (2002) toured the world as part of the Best of Berlin Transmediale.03, screening across four continents. A copy of his film Our Eye (2000) – a family history using digital techniques to re-interpret 8mm archive footage – was accepted for the permanent collection of the Scottish Screen Archive.

  • Brought to you by

  • in collaboration with

    Document 8: International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
  • Part of

  • Funded by

  • Contact

    Project Manager:
    Peter Kelly,
    Director, The Poverty Alliance

    Project Coordinator:
    Paula Larkin,
    Coordinator, Document Festival

    Making A Difference
    The Poverty Alliance
    162 Buchanan Street
    Glasgow G1 2LL

    Tel: 0141 353 0440

    Email: info@documentfilmfestival.org