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HANDSWORTH SONGS

UK, 1986 (MIFF 1988, Documentary)

Director: Black Audio Film Collective

A film essay on the contours of 'race' and 'civil disorder' in contemporary Britain. Filmed in Handsworth and London during the riots of 1955, and using extensive archival material ranging from scenes of colonial labour to images of Caribbean/Asian settlement, the film not only documents the Handsworth riots, but places them in a broader context, the industrial recession, black resistance movements and the increasing militarization of the police

The racial problems are examined through 'historic' images in order to examine the concept of 'race' in both it's past and current implications

"There are no stones in the riots, only the ghosts of other stories". This sentence is at the heart not only of the film's meaning, but it's structure. Shots of burning cars merge with old newsreels showing immigrants from the Caribbean waving from the decks of ships. The shots of violence become inseparable from those of weddings, dances, children playing the dream life that lies in ruins behind those other images of fire and rubble.

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