Black London’s Film Heritage

Posted on March 24, 2011


By: Saravanan Sugumaran

*Still shot of a rare archived footage, courtesy of

London further propelled its glowing image as a truly cosmopolitan city by bringing together a collection of film extracts that depict Black London during the early twentieth century.

Initiated and funded by Film London, Black London’s Film Heritage launched its “Big City Stories” project at the Ritzy Picturehouse, Brixton and at the BFI Southbank. The heritage project, which aims to bring about a fresh perspective on early Black London life, will be presented on 26th March and 12th April at the respective locations.

“BLACK LONDON’S FILM HERITAGE is a curatorial and exhibition project initiated by Film London. The theme of the programme will be Black London in the broadest sense, focusing on the African-Caribbean presence in London over the decades” was the message on its official Facebook events page.

June Givanni and Imruh Bakari were the curators responsible for attaining the much-anticipated footage that showcases rare screenings such as the 1911 silent film ‘Cosmopolitan London’ and the innovative drama ‘Death May Be Your Santa Claus.’

The obtained footage depicts the plight of the Black citizens of London at various key periods across the century. From the 1930’s to World War II and from then onwards, it showcases intimate moments of those Black families captured from personal home movies.

“I am really looking forward to see the procession of the archived films,” said Aaron Bennett, an undergraduate Media student of Caribbean descendant. “Everyone on my family is very excited and is really looking forward to this” said Bennett who feels that the Black community in London will embrace this achievement.

Black London’s Film Heritage is funded by Film London and the UK Film Council’s Digital Film Archive Fund and is also supported by the National Lottery.

Posted in: Film