WORLDwrite presents in partnership with the Selby Trust
Date: Friday 10th June 2016
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: The Selby Centre, Selby Road, Tottenham London N17 8JL
Entry: Free (Donation of £2 to WORLDwrite Charity suggested)
This is the first feature-length documentary to explore the life, writings and politics of the great Trinidad-born revolutionary C.L.R. James who died in Brixton in 1989. The film interweaves never before seen footage of C.L.R. James with unique testimony from those he knew, alongside interviews with the world’s most eminent scholars of James’ life, work and politics.
From colonialism to cricket, from Marxism to the movies, from slavery to Shakespeare – James’ ideas, we learn, were shaped by a voracious love of reading and belief in mankind as history makers. James remained an uncompromising anti-colonialist and anti-Stalinist, unafraid to criticise the failures of his own mentees, including Eric Williams, the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President. During his 15 year sojourn in the USA, initially invited by Trotsky to address the ‘Negro question,’ James established a rare voice in opposition to World War II. He rejected the common conception of the war as a simple moral tale of good versus evil, and tells us this was a war for empire. Followed by the security services in Britain and in the USA, he is eventually imprisoned on Ellis Island where he crafts his lesser known masterpiece Mariners, Renegades and Castaways.
Explored in the film too, are some of his best known and most celebrated works The Black Jacobins (1938) and Beyond A Boundary (1963). Black Jacobins debunked the myth that aristocratic do-gooders were responsible for the abolition of slavery and tells in gripping fashion the true story of the successful slave revolution in Haiti. Beyond A Boundary is also greatly admired for its celebration of cricket and indictment of colonialism.
The film marks the culmination of a five year multimedia project arranged by the education charity WORLDwrite and its Citizen TV station WORLDbytes. The project includes an online knowledge portal featuring filmed lectures, a timeline of James’ life, summaries of his work and recommended reading. The project and film have been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Trust for London, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and many individuals, with in-kind support including workshops and archive provided by the British Library, Museum of London, George Padmore Institute, People’s History Museum, Nelson Library, Banyan archives and University of the West Indies.