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Windrush 75: Stories Through Film

Kicking off Bristol’s Summer Film Takeover on 22-24 June, Windrush 75: Stories Through Film presented a weekend of specially curated films highlighting the journey of Bristol’s Afrikan-Caribbean community from the 1940s.

Presented by Bristol Museums and curated by Trace Mulzac, founder of DET Entertainment, the programmed films were screened on the Vintage Mobile Cinema Bus in Broadmead from Windrush Day on 22 June until 24 June.

The public were invited to hop on board to learn more about the Windrush story and celebrate 75 years since the first wave of Caribbean migrants arrived in the UK on the Windrush in June 1948. The event provided the opportunity to reflect on a major national moment in shared history, and be inspired by the Windrush stories captured on film.

Images courtesy Lisa Whiting, Bristol City Council and DET Entertainment

The people of the Windrush Generation were invited to replace labour shortages in post war Britain and to help rebuild the nation devastated by the Blitz. However, they did not receive the warm welcome that they had expected. It was a big culture shock for the new arrivals who faced colour bars, housing discrimination and outright hostility from the likes of teddy boys.

The films included rarely seen archival film footage about everyday experiences such as the challenges of securing accommodation to memorable moments like the first St Paul’s Carnival and the successful Bristol Bus Boycott campaign which ended the colour bar to employment on Bristol buses and led to creation of the first Race Relations Act in 1965.

The films also gave fascinating insights into historical landmarks that are no longer with us, like the legendary Bamboo Club (pictured below) which hosted influential bands like Bob Marley and the Wailers and the Mighty Diamonds.

The weekend’s programme also featured the premiere of local filmmaker Clive Smith’s new film Bristol’s Afrikan-Caribbean Legends of Martial Arts was also screened at a special event at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery on Windrush Day, 22 June.

This inspiring and informative new film from the award-winning grassroots filmmaker (pictured below) gives an insight into the journey of racism and discrimination that five of Bristol’s best known Afrikan-Caribbean legends of martial arts – Lloyd Russell, Lloyd Allen, Nathan Lewis, Sean Viera and Winston Williams – encountered whilst growing up in Bristol from the 1960s, and how a negative situation was turned into a positive.

The five tell their stories of why they started martial arts and the obstacles they encountered. Many of these young men went on to become UK and world class martial arts champions, to set up their own businesses and to mentor the young people who follow them.

The film also pays homage to the late Henry Cornwall, Max Maximen, Trevor Johnson and Stanmore Allen for their contributions to the Martial Arts world.

Following the screening there was a panel discussion with Lloyd Allen, Nathan Lewis and Winston Williams hosted by Julz Davis. The evening also included an authentic Jamaican buffet by Nadine, performances by Vanessa Melody and Lawrence Hoo and DJ sets by DJ Style and Donovan.

Windrush 75: Stories Through Film was delivered with help from the national Windrush 75 Network, which helps to broaden public recognition of the contribution of the original Windrush Pioneers, as well as increasing public understanding of the history of race and migration to Britain across the decades.

Bristol’s Summer Film Takeover was delivered as one of the activities under the City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme, funded by Bristol City Council and the West of England Combined Authority’s Love our High Streets project.