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The 2010 British Urban Film Festival - May Blog

With the election imminent, it is widely assumed that out of the 650 odd MP’s who represent their various constituencies up and down the UK, half of them will have to find new employment after the electorate have had their say. There will be a fair few MP’s doing their utmost to hold on to their jobs, those who are not tainted by the expenses affair to name but 1 plague on all the MP’s houses (in some cases, literally). And whilst issues such as housing, immigration, jobs and the economy will be key to the winning of votes, it is unlikely, though not rare for new MP’s to be elected on local issues. The east London borough and Olympic borough of Waltham Forest is the birthplace of Alfred Hitchcock, David Beckham and Black Filmmaker Magazine no less. It also holds the unenviable mantle of being the only London borough without a cinema. Cinemas are seen as the primary cultural lifeblood of a community, an outpost for individuals and families to indulge in ‘escapism’ from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. The recession has put pay to a lot of things (including a certain magazine if rumours are to be believed) but for the local MP to oversee the only London borough being without a cinema should generate far more commotion, both within the film community and beyond.

Former conservative leader and MP for Chingford & Woodford Green, Iain Duncan Smith has recently lent his support to the campaign to save Waltham Forest’s only cinema.  The Mcguffen society (who include actor Alan Davies among their patrons) are also spearheading the campaign to re-establish the EMD as a pre-eminent cinema venue in London. The Grade 2 listed building in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, was designed by Russian theatre director Theodore Komisarjevsky, who was married to actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft. The cinema was sold in 2003 to the UCKG church who plan to turn it into a place of worship. Earlier proposals were rejected by Waltham Forest council. How the campaign could do with Alfred Hitchcock chipping in or more realistically (though not improbably) David Beckham – we’ve seen what the power of 1 scarf can do.

The month of March also saw the power of protest in all its’ glory as the BBC announced plans to streamline its’ output including the closure of the Asian Network and 6music radio stations in its’ current form. Whilst over 100 people including Shilpa Shetty added their name to a petition to save Asian network, at least 10,000 people have added their name to a petition to save 6music, not forgetting the various campaigns running on Twitter and Facebook. It remains to be seen whether the die is cast on the various closures that have been mentioned in this blog. The 1st time this blog became aware of the Peckham rapper Giggs was when award-winning filmmaker Teddy Nygh previewed his documentary Clashadatight1’s a year ago (a film which later went onto be screened by BUFF). Since then, the rapper has gone onto win Best UK artist at America’s BET awards, has been signed by XL Recordings (also home of Dizzee Rascal) and is also on the BBC’s Sound of 2010 shortlist.

His forthcoming tour was cancelled on police advice over concerns about potential risks to the event. On a previous occasion, Giggs was banned from a Lil Wayne show at Stratford Rex in 2008, again at police insistence. His subsequent response, a freestyle rap ‘ Banned From Lil Wayne’ generated a new mass of fans, both listeners and followers on Twitter and Myspace. Having served time for firearms offences, Giggs has since and continued to be closely scrutinised by Operation Trident who not only have tipped off music venues against working with the artist but other music labels who’d expressed an interest in him. On top of that, Giggs feels that he’s being persecuted for talking about subjects that people don’t want to hear about. He insists that his lyrics and subsequent vision of Peckham is not pretty because its’ palpably not pretty. In an interview with Time Out magazine, Giggs re-iterates this fact going onto say that “people are scared of the truth. Some people just don’t wanna know…”  The same can be said for many films and TV programmes over the years which have been shown or otherwise for various reasons. Films about police deaths in custody (‘Injustice’ by Ken Fero) and the 7/7 London bombings (‘The Homefront’ by Thomas Ikimi) have never seen the light of the day in a UK cinema nor on TV. The gangster movie ‘Triads, Yardies and Onion Bhajees’, based on the former Southall gang The Holy Smokes was banned in cinemas in 2004 and is about to be released on DVD. A film based on events which led to the death of Jean Charles De Menezes is about to hit UK cinemas later this year. Its’ been said that Thames Television (remember them?) lost its’ ITV license to Carlton (who once employed David Cameron) over the broadcast of a documentary which smeared Margaret Thatcher’s then conservative government. What price free speech in today’s day and age?     £25 is the price that one must pay along with their film submission if they are to take part or partake in this year’s 2010 British Urban Film Festival. Filmmakers usually have something they really want to say and film as an art form, is one of the strongest currencies with which to get their particular message across, either literally or subliminally. Whatever the message, within reason the British Urban Film Festival would like to hear from you – get in touch at www.britishurbanfilmfestival.co.uk 

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