Tribute to Tony Imi

28 April 2010

A still from Cathy Come Home

Tony Imi, cinematographer of Cathy Come Home, has died aged 72.

Ken Loach’s 1966 drama tells the story of a young couple and their two children who become homeless when they are evicted by bailiffs. The children are taken into care by social workers.

Imi’s innovative handheld camera work gave the film a sense of realism and made it feel like a documentary rather than a work of fiction, adding to its hard-hitting impact.

Watched by 12 million people on its first broadcast in November 1966, the film shocked the nation and alerted the public and the government to the scale of the housing crisis. Shelter, which had been founded earlier that year, gained many new supporters.

Society’s attitudes towards homelessness and social care may have changed since Cathy Come Home was made, but the film has a power and honesty that still resonates today.

In 2007 Imi collaborated with director Rowland Jobson to produce Trapped, a short film for Shelter. The interactive drama, starring Eastenders actress Patsy Palmer, charts a family’s descent into homelessness and challenges the viewer to find a way out of their dilemma by making decisions on the family’s behalf.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: ‘Alongside everything else he achieved, in these two films Tony Imi made a massive contribution to raising awareness of the terrible consequences of bad housing in this country.'

Watch Trapped 

Find out more about Cathy Come Home and Shelter’s history