Tag Archives: Ritzy cinema

Brixton cleaning up after the looting

Kaye Wiggins reports on the clean-up efforts in Brixton last night

As I left work last night, I quickly checked Twitter for the latest on Brixton. For the first time since Sunday’s violence, the page did not fill up with rumours of riots and stories of trouble. Instead, there was talk about volunteers getting together to clean up the damage. I went along to help out – and to find out why it was happening.
Outside the Ritzy there was a group of around 30 or 40 people brandishing binbags, gloves and brooms. They chattered enthusiastically, sharing stories about where they lived and how shocked they were by the riots across the city and beyond. They grinned and cheered for the press photographer. Before long, I found myself with a glove and a binbag in my hands.
As we set about getting to work, we received some odd looks from passers-by and even police officers. Some teenage girls shouted “well done” to us, but when we said they should join us they giggled and said, “I wouldn’t go that far.”
We soon realised much of the damage had already been cleared up and there was little for the volunteers to do. We settled on clearing some broken glass from the doorway of the Vodafone shop. This rankled a little, since the volunteers weren’t in it to help capitalist giants save money. But we reminded ourselves that removing broken glass was, in any case, a good thing for Brixton.
Once the Vodafone glass was cleared, we scouted around for more work to do. Trouble was, there wasn’t much. We swept some scattered shards of glass from the pavement outside the station, and we tidied the pavement outside KFC. Then we retreated to Windrush Square for a quick gathering before wandering to the Effra Tavern to get to know our new-found neighbours.
Some Twitter users have already observed that this was largely (but by no means exclusively) a young, white, middle class affair. As @lascasartoris points out, we must give huge credit to the local businesses that reopened despite everything, the residents that went to a Monday afternoon meeting to discuss what should be done, and to the council and police for cleaning things up so that there was little for the volunteers to do.
Still, the clean-up tells us something. Plenty of residents, including those that work outside the area and cannot play a part in its everyday life, feel strongly about Brixton. They are willing to give up their evening to do a fairly unglamorous chore because they want to make that point. Well done, folk. 

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Brixton Bank Holiday Weekend

How to spend your entire bank holiday weekend in Brixton:

Friday 27 and Saturday 28: Two of the world’s top hip-hop producers, Just Blaze and The Alchemist, go head to head at Plan B for two nights running. Just Blaze vs The Alchemist Soundclash, £12 advance tickets, 10pm-4am, Plan B.

And over at Coldharbour Lane, Living Bar is re-opening with a launch night that includes new resident DJs Maxi Jazz of Faithless and Rob Birch from Stereo MCs.

Saturday 28: After a night’s partying, try a more relaxing workout at the new ‘Tai Chi in the Park‘ classes from 11am-12pm. Strength-building and energy-giving tai chi for all abilities – outside in Brockwell Park AND for free.  Classes will be taking place May 28th, June 4th, June 11th, June 18th and June 25th. Map and details on the website.

Sunday 29: Levi Roots is hosting the Lazy Sunday festival in Brockwell Park. Expect Caribbean music, steel bands and cookery demonstrations. And Reggae Reggae Sauce.

Monday 30: I love bank holidays because it means another day to spend wandering around Brixton Market – see here for top food shop tips. If you’re feeling daring later on, show off your singing, dancing or joke-telling skills at the Ritzy’s monthly Open Mic Night.

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The Weekend Ahead in Brixton

Now all the fuss is over and the Sarah Burton dress has been revealed, we can get on with the rest of the weekend. Here’s what’s in store:

Tonight: The Come Dine With Me Royal Wedding Special at 8pm tonight gets contestants to host themed street parties – one of them is Vincent from Brixton and he’s hosting a mock-Martinique wedding party ‘with his guests expected to cross dress’. The party was actually filmed some weeks ago of course.

If you fancy something a little more exciting, Plan B is holding their ‘Bump!’ club night with electro/Italo disco duo Heartbreak.

Saturday: Wim Wenders’ 3D film about the modern-dance choreographer Pina Bausch, ‘Pina’, is showing at The Ritzy at 15.20, 18.10 and 21.30. It looks GREAT.

Monday: The Brixton Windmill is re-opening – join the procession from Windrush Square at 2pm, processing up the hill to the Windmill itself for the opening ceremony with Chuka Umunna and a ‘guest celebrity’ at 3pm.

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FILM: My Kidnapper

Alex Procter from Renegade Pictures tells us about their new documentary, ‘My Kidnapper’, to be shown on 11 February at The Ritzy

In 2003, Mark Henderson was one of eight backpackers taken hostage whilst trekking in the Colombian jungle. What started as an innocent tourist adventure ended up as 101 terrifying days of captivity and uncertainty about his future. Eleven months after his release Mark received an email from Antonio, one of his kidnappers, and one of his fellow hostages received a Facebook friend request from Antonio’s girlfriend, another of their captors.

‘My Kidnapper’ is an extraordinary feature-length documentary directed by Mark Henderson and Kate Horne. The film follows Mark and three of his fellow hostages as they return to the Sierra Nevada mountains in Colombia, and eventually confront two of their kidnappers. It’s an emotional journey into a kidnapping, told from all sides. Acclaimed by festivals worldwide, it’s about to screen at The Ritzy Cinema on 11th February.

If you are interested in the chance to witness this moving documentary, come along to the Ritzy on 11 Feb or check out the film’s website for other London screenings.

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The Brixton Weekend Ahead

The winter is stretching before us with no apparent end, but it’s the first weekend of the 2011 (or rather, the first non-hangover weekend), so here are some tips to spend it wisely, healthy swim included.

Saturday: It’s the mid-winter swim at the Brockwell Lido. Vaseline, wetsuits, warm towels and a brave heart all essential. Or just go down and watch from the side. The Lido Cafe will be open and serving warming goodies afterwards. 12noon and free entry to all with charity collection. And in the evening, the Duke of Edinburgh on Ferndale Rd is hosting the Cassetique, a night of electronic DJs.

Sunday: Brunch at the newly opened ‘Duck Egg‘ on Coldharbour Lane, in the seemingly cursed premises that once hosted ‘Honest Foods‘ and then ‘Burning Bread’ in 2010. I haven’t been yet but eggs are the mainstay of the menu so it must be good. Right? Then across the road for The King’s Speech, which opened this weekend and is showing at The Ritzy at 12noon, 2.40pm, 5.15pm and 7.50pm.


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New Year’s Day fun

Lost for how to fill the first day of the year? Here are some Brixton-based ideas:

– The Ritzy is screening ‘The Hangover’ at 2pm especially for New Year’s Day . This is actually a good film.

– FOOD. If the Market’s open, get to Nour Cash and Carry and buy the goods to cook up a feast. Or just grab some plantain, jerk chicken and curry from Take Two.

– A walk in Brockwell Park. Or a swim at the Brixton Rec, in preparation for Brockwell Lido’s outdoor swim (brrr) on 8 January.

– For those who saved themselves for partying on New Years’ Day (gah), Plan B is hosting the afterparty for the Together 10th anniversary, with two rooms of electro-bass, breaks and house including the Stanton Warriors and Jurassik. And Brixton Jamm is hosting an all-day event – the Kerfuffle New Years Day/Wiggle After Party.

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The Weekend Ahead in Brixton (plus a Thursday)

Thursday: Brixton-based hip hop collective, The Illersapiens, are back for their monthly residency Soul Jam! at the Ritzy Cinema.

Friday: Another, more established Brixton band are playing tonight at Brixton Jamm – it’s the Alabama 3 with an acoustic set and songs from throughout their career (£10 advance tickets)

Saturday: Get swishing from 12pm today at the OxJam fundraising ‘Frock Swap’. Swappers bring 3 items of good quality clothing to the event, pay £5 entry, and you get a free Oxjam cocktail or mini manicure before the swapping commences.  They even have DJs to keep you entertained and an in-house tailor to assist with any alterations. (Dogstar, £5 entry. 12-4pm)

If you fancy an exhibition, there are a few on offer this weekend in Brixton – see Kurt Tong‘s photography at Photofusion or the group exhibition, You Don’t See That Every Day, at the Red Gate Gallery in Coldharbour Lane.

Sunday: It’s the Urban Green Fair in Brockwell Park from 11am-7pm. There’ll be a health zone, social justice stalls and, best of all, the Brockwell Bake.

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The Brixton week ahead

You’d expect this weekend to be a bit of a comedown after the revels of the Lambeth Country Show. But tonight Brixton is buzzing – Erykah Badu is playing at the Academy, there’s an after-concert ‘jam’ at Plan B and the Alabama 3 are at Brixton Jamm with Outlaw, Acoustic and Unplugged and Alan Mcgee (DJ Set).

And there’s lots more to come this week:

Sunday 25: Set to be 26 degrees –  park, park, park, park. In the evening, enjoy the ‘Sunday Blues‘ music at Upstairs @ The Ritzy at 8pm.

Wednesday 28:  The Lido Cafe is holding the Summer Party, #2. There’ll be live flamenco guitar music and a BBQ. Nothing can bring back the dreamy BBQ parties of the pre-Fusion days – this is the next best.

Thursday 29: It’s the first public meeting to discuss the Co-op Council, from 6-8.30pm – see here for details and then go shout about what you want to happen. And at 7.30pm, a new zine is being launched at The Grosvenor Pub by the I Digress residency – it’s an illustration and short fiction zine put together by a group of local artists and authors who meet regularly at The Grosvenor. [UPDATE 27/7] And later in the evening, Gold Panda is playing at Rest is Noise – for free!

Friday 30: Six-piece reggae band, ‘The Drop’, are launching their EP at Hootananny, accompanied by Mr Benn and Serial Killaz.

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The week ahead

Top tips for this upcoming Brixton week:

All week: Take a look at the In Public’ exhibition at Photofusion Gallery. An exhibition of street photography celebrating the 10 year birthday of the In Public photography collective.

Tuesday 8: Open Mic night at Ritzy Upstairs – sing, tell jokes and perform poetry to your heart’s content. Or just listen to others do it.

Thursday 10: Late night opening at the ‘Brixton Village’ in Granville Arcade. This week’s event is hosted by the School of Everything, a website that matches people who want to learn a skill with people who can teach it. So go expand your minds – who knows, you could learn anything from karate to beekeeping. And there’s fantastic food in the various new restaurants to boot.

Friday 11: The legendary Top Cats and DJ Natty Bo return to Hootananny (and for free too)

Saturday 12: Globoloco take their world music beats to their monthly party at Mango Landin. Reggae, ska, boogaloo, Latino hiphop – it’s all there.


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The Human Rights Festival @ The Ritzy: In The Land of The Free

The Angola prison

In The Land of The Free’  is the horrifying portrayal of one story – among the many to be told – about the injustices experienced in black America to this very day. The Angola 3 have between them spent almost a century in solitary confinement in Louisiana’s state penitentiary. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were prisoners at the Angola prison in the 1970s, convicted for the murder of a prison guard shortly after forming one of the only Black Panther prison chapters.

Vadim Jean’s film, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, systematically presents the evidence for Herman and Albert’s innocence, revealing corruption and incompetence at almost every level of the state legal system. The key witness was bribed with cigarettes and a shortened prison sentence, while another witness was later proven to be legally blind. Herman and Albert were joined in solitary by another Black Panther member, Robert King, who was told he was under investigation for the same murder although he was not even in the prison at the time. Now, in 2010, Robert King has been released, but Herman and Albert remain in solitary confinement after more than 37 years. King’s contributions are the mainstay of the film and, fascinatingly, we also hear from Albert and Herman on recorded telephone calls from prison.

The film’s strength is in its straightforward approach to presenting damning evidence against the Louisana state, damaging enough in itself not to need any embellishment.  Vadim Jean, the director, decided to make ‘In the Land of the Free’ after the death of his friend Anita Roddick, who had campaigned for the Angola 3. “Robert King spoke at Anita’s memorial”, he remembers, “and it was like her finger was pointing at me and saying, ‘make a film’.” ‘In the Land of the Free’ has created a small stir in the UK since its premiere at The Ritzy last week; it has been reviewed by most of the major papers. Jean is excited about that fact. “As Robert King says, drop a pebble in a pond and it creates ripples. Hopefully it will create ripples in the US too”.

‘In the Land of the Free’ could be criticised for remaining firmly focused on the Angola 3 without making much broader comment about racism in America, but Jean is adament that he had to tell a personal story. “If you opened the story out, it would have been a five hour movie. For me, it is ultimately a story about the triumph of the human spirit in adversity, as much as it is also political with a small ‘p’. Cinema provides an emotional response and then hopefully draws the audience to the places where they can find the other layers.”

‘In The Land of the Free’ is showing as part of The Human Rights Watch Festival at the Ritzy. Don’t look to this year’s Oscar winners – especially not, dear God, ‘The Blind Side’ – go to one of HRW films instead. My next choice? ‘No One Knows about Persian Cats’.

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