Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Tuesday night's showing of Babylon at the Albany was the first time I had seen Franco Rosso's fascinating film about reggae, racism and life in south east London in the late seventies.

Transpontine has done an excellent report of the evening and commentary on the film, which I won't attempt to emulate. There's also a great site here that contains a lot of interviews, pictures, reviews and so on of the film.

The showing was particularly interesting for me for two reasons. The first was seeing a film that was so firmly rooted in my own back yard - literally, in some cases! It was strange to see familiar places on the big screen and to imagine what it would have been like at the time having a film crew on the doorstep in Deptford. According to the Babylon website, the filming had to be kept very low key, given the subject matter and the potentially inflammatory nature of some of the scenes.

The second point of interest comes from my relative ignorance about the period. When Leeds, Liverpool and Brixton were rioting, I was studying for my O levels in a small northern town where the ethnic minorities were practically invisible. My political attention was focussed on opposing nuclear power and weapons and championing feminism, and although I was aware that rioting was happening it had very little impact on me. No doubt the events and attitudes were familiar to some - although not the Geezer's experience of growing up at the same time as a black teen in Peckham - but it was sobering to watch the film and imagine how it was for some sections of the community, and what effect that would have had on the areas we live in.

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