Thirty-six films, 40 screenings and talks, 11 venues and five cities. Those impressive statistics add up to one very ambitious film festival – a real feast for the eye and the mind for anyone who wants to sample some of the best talent in black film-making.
This is the fourth Windrush Caribbean Film Festival (WCFF) and the most wide-ranging to date. Not only does it celebrate and commemorate the 75th anniversary of the docking of troopship HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury in June 1948, but also 75 years of black cinema.
This year’s event is presented by CaribbeanTales Media Group, Integriti Capital and Recognize Black Heritage & Culture with the support of the British Film Institute.
The Festival sets sail on 6 June from the port city of Southampton with a screening at the Mast Mayflower Studios. The next port of call on this cinematic cruise is the Watershed Cinema, Bristol (9 & 10 June); followed by the Midland Arts Centre in Birmingham (13-15 June); Riverfront Cinema, Newport, South Wales (16-18 June); Channel Four HQ, Westminster (16 June); Rich Mix, Shoreditch (17-20 June); Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton (21 June); Picturehouse Central, Piccadilly Circus (22 June); Ritzy, Brixton (23 June); and the Rio Cinema, Dalston (24 June). The good ship WCFF finally docks at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel on 30 June, when there will an awards ceremony.
Southampton is an appropriate place to begin, because it is where many new arrivals from the Caribbean first stepped ashore on to the chilly, less-than-welcoming soil of the ‘Mother Country’. Some months before the high-profile arrival of Empire Windrush, 200 people from the Caribbean, including many who had served in the Royal Air Force during the war, came into Southampton from the elderly troop carrier and emigrant ship SS Almanzora (the vessel was broken up a few months later). From Southampton the new arrivals generally went by train to London Waterloo, which is why the Windrush Monument, sculpted by Basil Watson, was placed at the station last year.
Frances-Anne Solomon – best known for her wonderful film Hero – says she aims to sell out the opening night at Mast Mayflower Studios in Southampton. Solomon explained why we need to celebrate and honour the Windrush generation: “They were our parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties. We inherited their courage, their struggles, their cultures of resistance. We are proud to stand on their broad shoulders and carry forward their stories.”
For full details of all screenings visit windrushfilmfestival.com.