Thursday, November 19, 2009

Don Lett's new documentary - 'Carnival!'

I wanted to mention Don Lett's new film, 'Carnival!' which has been doing the rounds latley, below is a selection of articles about the film ending with an interview with the producer.

The iconic image to the left shows a young Rastafarian walking in front of a line of policemen during the Notting Hill Carnival riots of 1976. The man in the photograph is Don Letts.

Now a Grammy award-winning director, Don explores the true meaning of Europe's largest street party in this, his latest film.

The documentary features previously unseen archive, a wonderful soundtrack and interviews with Sir Trevor McDonald, Jazzie B, Norman Jay, Miquita Oliver and Paul Simonon of The Clash.

"The first definitive film about the Notting Hill Carnival" - The Independent

"A must-see film.. incredible soundtrack" - Realscreen

(Article taken from Brassneck TV)


Don Letts talks about his thoughts on the Notting Hill Carnival and mentions his new documentary 'Carnival!'

Don Letts, 53

Musician and film-maker, whose new documentary Carnival! follows the history of the event

I've been coming to the Notting Hill Carnival for 35 years and filming it since 1976 when the riots kicked off. This year is its 50th anniversary, and anniversaries put me in a reflective state of mind. I passionately wanted to make a film about it because I feel the ideas and the motivation behind the original event are as relevant, if not more so, in today's social climate. ­Carnival is a barometer of the journey of multiculturalism.

It's been a hard road and we've got there but outside the bubble of London not everyone is living the happy dream. I'm not too pleased about strikes against foreign workers, about the BNP being elected to the European Parliament, about the Irish burning Romanians from their homes and churches. There are new immigrant communities facing the same problems my parents did when they came here from Jamaica.

The first Carnival was organised by Claudia Jones in the wake of the race riots of 1958 and 1959, and the murder of a black man called Kelso Cochrane. It was born out of struggle and conflict. For the next few years it represented the dreams and aspirations of people like my parents, who intended to go back home. But by the mid-Seventies, it had become an attempt by my generation to work out what it meant to be British and black. Today it's a diverse, multicultural, universal expression of what London is about. Notting Hill Carnival took centre stage at the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations, remember.

But will there be a Somali float, or an Eastern European float next year? I don't think so. And it's ironic that after years of the council, the police, local residents trying to shut it down, it's now most in danger of closure because of steaming gangs and black-on-black violence.

Carnival grew out of the racist murder of a black man but today I'm more likely to be killed by my own brethren. We need to address these things.
The purpose of Carnival is to bring people together and extend the hand of friendship, and I'm keen to pass that energy on to the new immigrants who are coming in behind us.
Music man: Don Letts inspired The Clash's punk-reggae fusion

The film uses archive footage to put Carnival into a context. It reminds people that Enoch Powell was the minister who first invited immigrants over to help with post-war reconstruction. There are contributions from people you'd expect, such as Soul II Soul's Jazzy B and DJ Norman Jay — both MBEs, incidentally, which tells you something about how British culture has changed. But we've also got interviews with Trevor Phillips, Sir Trevor McDonald and Paul Simonon from The Clash.

We're premiering it at the Tabernacle, which is still the headquarters of Carnival village. It's where The Clash played, and where that whole punky-reggae fusion thing took place [in the late Seventies]. Carnival was integral to the band, particularly to Joe Strummer, who was always switched on to the plight of immigrants.

Big Audio Dynamite [which Letts founded with Clash guitarist Mick Jones] couldn't have come from anywhere else but west London, because it had that multicultural mix of Jamaican basslines and rock guitars. Ever since the Sixties, when the Stones and Pink Floyd played there, the Tabernacle was the hub of the creative subculture of Notting Hill. It lost its way a bit a few years ago, when gentrification priced out the local community. But it's reinvented itself and reconnected to the grass roots. Damon Albarn and Lily Allen have worked there and helped put it back on track. It's now back at the heart and soul of the community, and of Carnival.

(Article taken from the London Evening Standard 28.08.09)
Watch a trailer of Carnival! HERE

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