Marc Isaacs photo

The Lift

Made by Marc Isaacs

2001, 24 Mins.

About The Filmmaker

Marc Isaacs has made more than a dozen creative documentaries for
the BBC and Channel 4. His films have won Grierson, Royal Television
Society and BAFTA awards as well as numerous international film festival
prizes. In 2006 he had a retrospective at the prestigious Lussas
Documentary film festival in France and his work has been included in
numerous documentary books and academic studies. In 2008, he received
an honorary doctorate from the University of East London for his
distinguished achievement in his field. Marc is a guest tutor at the London
Film School and the National Film and Television School. His latest film,
ALL WHITE IN BARKING was recently been short listed for a Grierson

Grierson Award UK Best Newcomer 2002 winner
BAFTA CRAFT Nomination 2002 winner
Flickerfest –Australia Best Short Documentary 2003 winner
Oberhausen Germany – Fipresci Award 2002 winner
Oberhausen Germany – Mayor’s Prize 2002 winner
Olomouc Film Academia Mayor’s Award 2002 winner
Winterthur Switzerland Best Film 2003 winner
Milan Short Film Festival –Kodak Award 2003 winner
Zabriskie Point Award – Roma Doc Fest 2003 winner
Stuttgart Film Festival Development Prize 2002 winner


When filmmaker, Marc Isaacs, decided to make a documentary about a lift in a London tower block he had no idea how the residents would react and what they would reveal of their lives. He simply set himself up in the lift with his camera and waited for the right moment to ask questions. The result is both humorous and moving.

Once the early suspicions of the residents disappear, the lift is transformed into a place of comedy and reflection. Trapped in a confined space and suspended in time for the few seconds it takes to come and go from the building, a rich variety of characters reveal the things that matter to them.


How did you find your contributors?

We spent one week meeting all the residents of the block just to be certain there were enough potential characters and then just waited patiently in the lift for them. So to some extent they cast themselves – sometimes without knowing it.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt making the film?

To never accept the mediocre and to always strive for the unexpected.

Did you have a moment where you nearly gave up? What was it?

After two weeks of collecting some wonderful moments I had a big panic to do with narrative development but panic is always good because you then find interesting (hopefully) solutions. You can never seriously contemplate giving up once you have decided to make the film. That would be stupid and cowardly.

What do you think this film did in terms of helping your career?

I never used to think in terms of a career really (that sounds like something accounts have) but LIFT has allowed me to make all of my subsequent films and was the perfect launch pad.

Where has the film been seen and how did it get there?

All over the world from Ireland to Iran. Once a few festivals screened it then it took on a life of it’s own. In fact, I often have no idea when and where it shows now because it is impossible to control. It left home and became independent of me a while ago now. It’s welcome back anytime though.

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