NOW STREAMING: A Listening Eye – The Films of Mike Dibb

A guide to the new season of free films & live events streaming from The Whitechapel Gallery from 08 January to 26 March 2021.

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One of the great joys of posting screen news at RADIANT CIRCUS is that moment when you come across someone or something you know (almost) nothing about. And so it is when we received notification from The Whitechapel Gallery about their new free streaming season dedicated to the films of multi-award-winning documentary filmmaker Mike Dibb, A Listening Eye. Now, we knew about some of his films but nothing about him, which is just the kind of motivation we need to get stuck in.

Season co-curator Matthew Harle (his colleague is Colm McAuliffe) explains:

“Mike Dibb is perhaps best known for WAYS OF SEEING, his pioneering and vastly influential television essay on art and society made with John Berger, but he has directed dozens of important films in a career spanning six decades.”

And suddenly some things start to come into focus (but only in that “I hazily remember studying Berger at university, but that was 30 years ago” kind of a way…). We needed Matthew to tell us more:

“Dibb’s pioneering work across the landscape of the television documentary format operates at the forefront of radical, intellectual ideas combined with a startling facility for empathetic storytelling. Diverse by nature, Dibb’s work has traversed the fields of post-colonial literature, improvisatory jazz, and the very nature of concepts such as creativity and play, while always remaining grounded in everyday experience.”

And now we’re hooked. Dibb’s early career was spent making films about cinema including essays about John Ford, Michaelangelo Antonioni, Roman Polanski, James Stewart, Bette Davis, Jean Luc Goddard and Buster Keaton (1967-71), which is right up our canal. In 1994 he collaborated with Stephen Frears to make TYPICALLY BRITISH for Channel 4 and the BFI, a feature length doc about the history of British Cinema. His other portrait films feature figures as diverse as Salvador Dali, Miles Davis, Stuart Hall, David Hockney, Keith Jarrett, C. L. R. James, Elmore Leonard, Federico García Lorca, Edward Said and Barbara Thompson. You can read about all his extensive filmography HERE.

Now in his 80th year, Dibb is still creating work and will take part in a number of live online events to accompany the extensive streaming programme of films that make up this unmissable season. We’ll give Matthew the final words:

“Dibb is a truly collaborative and engaged maker, whose commitment and humane attention are as wide-ranging as his curiosity.”

Scroll on for full information about the film and live event programme.

A Listening Eye – The Films of Mike Dibb streaming from The Whitechapel Gallery (08 JAN to 26 MAR 2021).


Quick links to the venue/box office.

Ten film programmes are shown online for one week at a time. The programmes are free to view and are available every Friday from 8 JAN to 19 MAR 2021 on Vimeo HERE. They are:

Accompanying the film programmes are free live online events featuring Mike Dibb in dialogue with acclaimed conversationalists and writers as follows:




*THE SMALL PRINT: Opinions author’s own. // As accurate as we could make it. Apologies for any errors. Updates & corrections will be made to the online version only. // Event dates/times/formats are subject to change by the venue/organiser. Events may already be sold out at the time of posting, so please click quickly. // We try to list as many original format screenings as we can (8 to 70MM), but sometimes formats change due to age of the print, availability, logistics etc, so please check ahead with your venue if the format is your thing. // All images are used in the spirit of fair use for reporting & review – no ownership is implied or intended / unless otherwise credited to RADIANT CIRCUS as the original rights holder. We will remove any images immediately upon request – just get in touch. // We don’t filter our listings by age/certification: all readers & subscribers should therefore be 18+. // Finally, we always try to follow The Carny Code by “not screwing up anyone else’s game”, but everyone can make mistakes… If something does go wrong, we will always do our best to put it right. //.