Being Blacker examines the life of music producer, Brixton record shop owner and key figure in South London's Jamaican community
Film maker Molly Dineen has returned with her first documentary in ten years, Being Blacker. Dineen met the music producer and record shop owner Steve ‘Blacker Dread’ Martin nearly 40 years ago when they we both 18 – she was a student when she shot Sound Business in 1981; a film that documented the British incarnations of Jamaica’s Sound Systems, and where she met Blacker Dread. Back in 2014, Blacker Dread had asked Dineen to film his mother's funeral, an experience that would mark the start of this documentary, and the succeeding three years she would spend with the subject documenting events such as his daughter's wedding and his first prison sentence. “Blacker Dread's life has seen him experience three generations of educational inequality, racism, cultural isolation, lack of employment opportunities, crime and violence, but also togetherness, community spirit, and a vibrant musical culture,” notes that synopsis, with this portrait of a major figurehead in South London's Jamaican community also highlighting many of the issues that face black communities in London today.
“When I reconnected with Blacker I stepped into another world”, explains Dineen. “He’s a wonderful character who has lived the most incredible life and Being Blacker looks at the social and cultural issues which have forged his path. Blacker Dread as seen in this film could only exist in this extraordinary world where family and music are at the forefront, but racism and violence are also everyday occurrences. And if you think any of these are things of the past in London then Being Blacker will prove eye-opening to say the very least.”
Screenings will take place throughout March, including London Curzon Soho (1), Oxford Ultimate Picture Palace (3), London Rio Dalston and Peckhamplex (4), London BFI (5), Manchester Home (7), London Bertha Dochouse (9), London The Lexi Cinema (11), and London Somerset House (12). It will also be broadcast on BBC2 on 12 March, 9pm. Full details of screenings are on the Being Blacker website.
You can watch the trailer below.