First, the Brockley Jack Film Club is screening A Prophet on Monday night. Everything I have heard about it is really good and I'm sad to be missing it.
Sentenced to six years in jail for attacking police officers, Malik is an illiterate young man who can read people. A young Frenchman of North African descent, he inhabits the border between two different peoples – the living and the dead. In a brutal prison where he has to kill or be killed, he makes the obvious choice and ends up surprising everyone. From the first scenes, it’s apparent why this film won 29 major awards around the world. Tahar Rahim was named Actor of the Year by London Critics only because there was no category for Actor of the Decade.You can watch the trailer here.
The Film Club, who you can also follow on Twitter, is run by local people in their own time, for no profit, and shows a film once a month at the Brockley Jack Theatre, which is also run by the local Southside Arts and can also be followed on Twitter.
The Brockley Jack Film Club is just one of many fantastic self-managed film clubs in South East London, all both deserving of your support and between them offering a great selection of films.
Like the large number of Big Lunches in this neck of the woods, this is a testament to the strong spirit of voluntary action and civic engagement around here, and a sense of community which I think is much stronger than in many parts of London, as well as to the odd mix of high cultural capital and low financial capital that characterises the area.
On the other hand, it is also a testament to the fact that Lewisham is the one of the only boroughs in London with no cinema. Our last one, in Catford, was eaten up by the very suspicious Brazilian-based evangelical church, UCKOG. Lewisham once had a thriving cinema culture, as documented beautifully here, but this is gone.
There is very little the local authority can do about this, short of opening a municipal cinema, so it is unlikely that the various campaigns for a cinema in the area - see here and here- will come to much, unless one of the cinema chains recognises the market potential.
I've been thinking, as Lewisham closes its libraries and replaces them with "community libraries" run by "social enterprises", about the Big Society. In lots of ways, the Film Club, the Big Lunch and possibly even a community library are wonderful examples of local civil society and its potential to bring people together and create something positive: something we own because we made it, something totally outside the state. But when this sort of thing does the job the state should be doing and actually does better (e.g. when it replaces a municipal library), that's surely not such a good thing.
Anyway, go and see A Prophet. And Slumdog Millionaire open air tomorrow, and Gerry at the Roxy next week, and Enter the Void at the Amersham the day after, and the Brockley Max festival at the end of the month, and start setting up a Big Lunch on your street if there isn't one already planned. (I'm pasting my 33 nearest ones below the fold; I'll be at no.2.) But also let's keep up the fight against the brutal cuts...