Jamaican and South London reggae sound system icon, Jah Shaka, who died earlier in April at the age of 75, was posthumously honoured at the launch of the fourth annual Windrush Caribbean Film Festival.
Organisers of the festival held a one-minute silence for him at a launch event held recently at Rich Mix in London with many of the festival filmmakers attending. The launch was hosted by artistic director, Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe, who also led the silence.
Born in Clarendon, the highly influential Jamaica producer and artist, also known as the Zulu Warrior, rose to prominence in the late 70s with a large following. This included many notable pioneers such as Clash biographer and filmmaker, Don Letts and local artist, Basement Jaxx.
In 1980, Jah Shaka played himself in the British film Babylon, written and directed by Franco Rosso, an incendiary portrait of racial tension and police brutality set in Thatcher-era Brixton. Basing himself between South London and Jamaica, Shaka Sound System was popular, pulling in regular crowds for over four decades.
75th anniversary of Empire Windrush arrival
The film festival, now in its fourth year, also marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks with Caribbean citizens, many of them being Jamaicans, who were invited to live in the United Kingdom. However, many Caribbean nationals had already arrived in the UK the year before, docking at Southampton on board The Almanzora.
To celebrate this earlier arrival, for the first time in the festival’s history, Southampton will host the opening night of the 2023 Windrush Caribbean Film Festival on June 6 with a showcase of short films.
The event was introduced by the festival director, Diana Webley, and Patricia Hamzahee, co-founder and director, also gave an inspiring talk on the importance of having the space to tell black stories.
Once again, the festival will have over 40 screenings and talks taking place across five cities, a move that Anyiam-Osigwe says, ‘demonstrates the festival’s intent, ambition and purpose.’
Windrush Caribbean Film Festival runs nationwide from June 6-30 and comes to Brixton Ritzy on June 23 with a showing of Sus, the landmark British drama from 2010.
Directed by Robert Heath and starring Ralph Brown, Clint Dyer and Rafe Spall, the film is set in a police station on the evening of Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 general election, where a black suspect is brought in and interrogated on suspicion of murder. The special screening will be accompanied by the short documentary A Very Brit(ish) Voice about the Caribbean people who travelled to the UK between 1948 and 1971 and settled in Leicester.
Further London screenings will take place at Rich Mix, Picturehouse Central, The Rio Cinema, Genesis Cinema and Channel 4 headquarters throughout June.