Next month’s programme at Screen25, the South Norwood film club with an uncanny knack of finding something that somehow reflects the latest news, trends or, dare we utter it, “zeitgeist”, might have been chosen to highlight the societal contradictions around a sumptuous, no-expense-spared royal wedding and the Windrush scandal dominating headlines at the same time.
There again, the movies might have been chosen just because they’re fine films.
There’s a double dose of Black Panther, with a Bring Along Baby morning screening to start the month’s programme a day early on May 31, but to finish the month there’s an intriguing documentary, Being Blacker, which offers so much insight into life in south London as it is experienced today.
Or, as one TV reviewer put it when the film was first screened earlier this year, Being Blacker is “about home and belonging, and education and gentrification… It’s about music and culture and the erosion as well as the evolution of culture. It’s about Being Black, in Britain, in the 60s, and in 2018.”
But first, consider the documentary maker, Molly Dineen.
This film was the first to be made by Dineen, an acclaimed observer of people throughout her precocious career, for a decade.
Dineen’s films are shot with the eye for detail of a photographer – she studied photography at the London College of Printing at the Elephant and Castle in the 1980s. Her final piece of work as a student so impressed the BBC that they screened it, Home From The Hill, Dineen’s not-so-affectionate study of ex-Army officer Hilary Hook. Her other docs have included The Lie of the Land, on fox hunting after the ban, The Lords’ Tale, about hereditary peers, and Geri, on the Spice Girl.
And then… nothing for 10 years.
Being Blacker sees her return to one of the subjects of her student works 30 years earlier, the owner of a record shop in Brixton, Blacker Dread.
Someone suggested that an alternative title for this film might be “Two Funerals And A Wedding”, but that would be to sell it short for an easy gag.
As The Guardian noted: “This first funeral is of Pauline Celestine Martin – who came by herself from Jamaica in 1962 with very little and left behind 94 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom clearly adored her. Blacker Dread – sound-system pioneer, record-store owner and pillar of the Brixton community – is Pauline’s son; he followed his mother to Britain aged nine. He asked Dineen, whom he knew from a student project of hers, to film the funeral of the mum he too adored.”
Dineen kept filming, for three years.
The Blacker Dread Music Store, on Coldharbour Lane, has to close, because he’s been found guilty of money laundering. Prison awaits. The record shop is now a posh dress shop, next door an even posher estate agent.
Dineen is there, to record all the fine detail. It is a fascinating watch. And as that reviewer said, “Why should we even care, about this colourful and likable, but not especially remarkable character, who isn’t even around for much of his remarkably long documentary on account of being banged up?
“Because it’s not just about Blacker, his children, his mother, grief and families, it’s about an entire community. It’s about immigration and generational differences, between first, second, third and fourth generations.”
It’s about London in 2018.
All films are at 7.45pm, £5 – £8.50 (£2.50 off tickets for members; £2 off for Inside Croydon subscribers) and held at Harris Academy South Norwood, SE25 6AE, unless otherwise stated
Screen25 Film Club programme: June
Thu May 31 – BLACK PANTHER (12A) 11am
2018 Action 134min, Dir: Ryan Coogler
Discover the buzz around the biggest film of the year! Breaking all kinds of boundaries,
Black Panther is “an electrifying hit that redefines the superhero genre”, it says here.
*A Bring Along Baby screening
Wed Jun 6 – SUPERBOB (15)
2014 Comedy 82min. Dir: Jon Drever
A lonely superhero from Peckham is looking for love, six years after being struck by a
meteor which gave him special powers.
Sat Jun 9 – EARLY MAN (PG) 2pm
2017 Animation 100min. Dir: Nick Park
Discover a time when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, with Aardman’s latest animated feature film. Plus claymation workshop before the movie!
Wed Jun 13 BLACK PANTHER (12A)
2018 Action 134min. Dir: Ryan Coogler
As May 31 above. An evening screening, without the requirement to “bring along baby”.
Wed Jun 20 THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (15)
2017 Comedy Drama 115min. Dir: Martin McDonagh
A grieving mother takes matters into her own hands after the local authorities fail to make any arrests following her daughter’s brutal murder seven months earlier. The winner of multiple awards including a BAFTA for Best Film.
Wed Jun 27 – BEING BLACKER (15) – 7.45pm
2018 Documentary 90min. Dir: Molly Dineen
An intimate portrait, from one of Britain’s finest documentary makers, of Jamaica-born reggae producer, businessman, father, son, and pillar of the Brixton community, Blacker Dread.
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