The programme opens with a documentary (Statues Hardly Ever Smile, 1971) filmed inside the Brooklyn Museum. A group of school children are invited to spend a week improvising a series of drama performances, inspired by objects found inside the museum. The narrator tells us that, by the end of the week, the children feel as though the museum belonged to them.

But what does it mean for space to belong to us? 
Does space become ours when our capacities for self-expression occupy just as much presence as the material contained within a space? Throughout the programme, we see spaces being filled with bursts of laughter, dance, conversation and contemplation. These films dare to propose time and familiarity as measures of ownership - we build relationships with spaces in the same way that we build them over time with people. This vision is particularly prominent in Homeland/Welat (2014), in which each frame is filled with landscapes of a seemingly abandoned village. Although each shot displays mountain scenery void of people, the ghostly presence of humanity is felt in the ongoing chatter layered over each scene, capturing echoes of memory. 
The harsh separation between the present time in the visuals, and the past in the audio leaves an eerie taste of nostalgia. If the camera in Homeland/Welat yearns over those who are absent from the space, SABR (2023) is wary of losing the space itself. During a woman’s prayer, the experimental camera movements snap back and forth between details of the room, moving faster at each repetition until falling into a frenzy of spins. There is a frantic effort to savour each detail, as if the room is ready to slip away into an abyss at any moment. Essentially, SABR and Homeland/Welat create stages upon which time and space can be in conversation with one another. 
This conversation forms the bridge of their relationship; a relationship which feels more tangible than the one which lies between space and legal paperwork. In a city where eviction announcements feel like a constantly looming threat for our treasured community spaces, the films in The Space Belongs to Them serve as a warm reminder that preserving them is a battle worth fighting. 
Community spirit is at its strongest as we are whisked across London for haircuts in Fresh Cutz (2018) and Precious Hair and Beauty (2021), where every interaction is filled with laughter and teasing. Beyond drawing attention to how we relate to space, the programme also reimagines the boundaries of space itself. Wata (2020) explores dancing and movement to the sound of jazz and harmonising melodies. The dancers make unbreaking eye contact with the camera, extending the conceptualisation of the spatial world beyond the screen to confront the audience directly. 
This idea of breaching the traditional confines of space beyond the screen is one which is taken a step further by the event organisers. Prior to the screening, the vibrations of Tibetan singing bowls introduced the programme, and live poetry performances closed it. By making use of the cinema room beyond the screen, The Space Belongs to Them challenges the notion of the viewing experience as one which must be defined by individual escapism, as opposed to a shared experience.