Joyce Vincent was found dead in her flat in Wood Green Sky City. She had been dead three years. The TV was on and there were Christmas presents still wrapped on the floor.
This was a case that completely mystified me – and the rest of the world – when it went public. How could a woman lie dead for three years in her flat with no one – absolutely no one – knowing or caring? Outside of her personal life – for you never know why someone will retreat from the world for their own personal reasons – what about the rent, the gas, the council tax, the caretaker and the neighbours?
I pursued all of this for a very long time. The Housing Association made changes so that anyone living in their premises on their own had to be visited in person each year. Everyone had a reason why no one had pursued entry to the flat. Out of desperation, having found out that Joyce had been in a women’s refuge a few years earlier – I even tracked the refuge down and visited on my own one evening. A young woman let me in and we talked about the existence there. She said even there – although safe – no one cared if you lived or died. I pursued it with the refuge charity – who said – no they didn’t follow up with women who left. All my efforts – with all of the agencies who should have entered the flat – in the end led to a few small changes but no further enlightenment on the mystery that was Joyce Vincent.
Some while later – a film maker – Carol Morley contacted me. She had been absorbed by this case – as had I – and was hoping to make a film about it. I met her and we talked. Some time later – she contacted me again as she now was making the film – and I agreed to do a piece to camera answering questions. There is a good article today about this here.
When I went to where she was filming – I was gobsmacked at what she had found out about Joyce’s life. How had Carol managed all of this – when the police, the journalists, the media had not? It’s an astonishing story.
Dreams of a Life will be shown at the 2011 BFI London Film Festival. The film has been shortlisted for the Grierson award for best documentary at the LFF. It will go on general release in March 2012. www.dreamsofalife.com
UPDATE: Film will now be released on December 16th!