NXDFFF 2018 – A Punter’s View
Deptford local, Fred Aylward, achieved the incredible feat of going to at least one event every day of this year’s festival. Here’s his account of what happened.
Friday 27th April
I didn’t intend to see one film per day, sometimes two….it was a happy accident!
I went to the festival launch at the Brick Brewery and it was packed out. Met Jon and Helena in the front row saving seats for Anne and my brother David, but not me! I was offered a sack of malt to sit on, but declined. I found a spare chair to sit on which I jumped out of many times watching “Get Out”, a very scary and clever take on race and horror. It reminded me of “To Sir With Love” the 1967 Lulu and Sidney Poitier film meets “Halloween.”
The Lenox Project showed “Admiral:Command and Conquer” in St Nicholas’ Church which was very atmospheric. After scoffing Helenas delicious Granny’s Fruit Cake with a nice cup of tea, I sat on a pew on a big cushion (pews are hard). The battle sequences were excellent and very realistic although I couldn’t tell the Dutch from the English ships as the editing was so fast. It was an exhuasting film to watch. The gruesome ending of disembowelment was tame to what really happened – the mob ate the Mayor! We were spared this and it was a relief when the film ended and we retired to the Dog and Bell.
A team from Old Tidemill Garden had organised Hustings as the local elections were taking place and the garden and adjoining council block in Reginal Rd were to be demolished. Also the demolition of Achilles St was discussed and how locals are trying to save their homes. In a large shed they were showing short films by local film makers and activists including a film about Convoys Wharf which will have 3,500 new homes, three tower blocks and no social housing. I managed six of the short films including one about the Lenox ship building project and the John Evelyn Garden project and an art film by Sue about gentrification and various building developemnts in Deptford. They were all good and informative. I also attended the Hustings where Joe Dromey (Labour) and Andrea CareyFuller (Green) were verbally sparing over the housing shortage and the destruction of the beautiful garden we were in. Andrea won in the Hustings and Joe Dromey won in the local election.
Tonight I was at the Sanford Housng Co-op watching “Concrete Soldiers” a documentary about the housing crisis in Britain with a Q and A with the director Nikita Woolfe, Andy Worthington (narrator and journalist) and Heather from Old Tidemill Community Garden. This all took place in a huge portakabin, turned into a comfy cinema with tea and snacks. It was a lively debate and I got home at 10pm and realised I had left my wallet by the tea urn. I raced back on the 225 bus and found Moira the lovely woman who had organised the film showing, had kept my wallet safe.
Tuesday 1st May
I spent all day taking part in the Jack in the Green procession starting at midday at the Dog and Bell to 6pm at the Ashburnham Arms via several pubs in Greenwich. Then me, David and Anne drove over to Buster Mantis for a showing of Jean Cocteau’s 1930’s B/W surreal art film, Blood of a Poet, featuring the beautiful photographer Lee Miller. This event was hosted by the London Drawing Group and we were greeted by Gill who didn’t seem to notice my green face make up from the May Day proceession. We collected our three sheets of paper, drawing board, charcoal and chalk and proceeded to draw while watching the film. We all produced three drawings and I wondered what a psychologist would have made of mine? I felt zonked out after the session.
After leafleting for the Green Party at New Cross Gate station I visited the New Cross Learning Centre to watch “Dispossession:The Great Social Housing Swindle” directed by Paul Syng who had worked on some of the other housing documentaries shown this week. The film was narrated by Maxine Peak and this was the third time I had seen this brilliant documentary, not counting the edited version shown on Channel 5 earlier this year. This fourth veiwing made me realise how much information there is to digest in this film, although I think “Concrete Soldiers” has the edge on these housing documentaries. It was a bit more up to date and included the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.
I went to the Stephen Lawrence Centre to watch Lewisham at Home, three films about living in Lewisham, but gave up after the first two, as they were showing the films in broad daylight with the lights on! Health and Safety apparently. This was a shame as the film about Prefabs on the Excalibur Estate in Catford was good and the film about Mr Pinks house on Lewisahm Way which I had seen before, was also good, so I fled in the direction of Creekside to catch a viewng of “Blow Up”at Art Hub Gallery. This iconic 1967 film starring David Hemmings is a study on things not being what they seem, perception and reality. Sequences filmed locally in Maryon Wilson Park still make it a spooky place to visit. “Blow Up “also features a brief glimpse of Jane Birkins pubic hair, a first for a British film, in the sequence where the two girls play fight in the photographers studio. My old art teacher features as one of the students on the jeep racing around the park and the young woman dancing in the night club sequence wearing striped trousers is a young Janet Street Porter.
Tonight for a bit of light relief, me and Cash went to the Brookmill pub to watch “Moonstruck” starring Cher and Nicolas Cage. We met a woman there who thought I was dead! I got there early and watched some 80s videos (Prince, Maddona, Marc Almond and ABC) and was confronted by Deb Astell done up in 80s garb complete with crimped hair. I had never seen “Moonstruck” and really enjoyed it. It’s a hoot when Cher has the small grey streak in her hair dyed black and has her mono brow plucked, goes shopping for a new dress and turns into glamorous Cher! Nicolas Cage scrubbed up nicely as well.
This evening found me back on the documentary trail at Sanford Housing Co-op watching “Sleaford Mods:Invisible Britain”. The lead singer in the Sleaford Mods swore a lot and has the stance of Liam Gallagher and the snarling rage of John Lydon and the film is a commentary on broken Britain and the disaffected and forgotten people in various run down towns around Britain. Although I did notice they did a gig in Tunbridge Wells. The main overiding thing I got from these documentaries is that we need a change of Govenment. Policies affecting housing, the NHS and social injustice can only be changed from the top down, but it is important at a grass roots level for people to organise, educate and demonstrate. I rushed off to Folkestone Gardens to watch a pedal-powered showing of “Pirates of the Caribbean”. I sat on the grass, in the dark, next to a bonfire, by Tony who was sporting a rather fetching Jack Sparrow dreadlock wig. The film had already started but at over two and a half hours long it didn’t matter. I didn’t realise that Cash, David and Freya were sitting in front of me as it was so dark. Someone lit a floating lantern which floated up into the nearest tree and set it alight. We stopped watching the film to watch the fire, but fortunately someone climbed the tree and put the fire out. The film finished after 11pm and I got a lift back with Cash and David.
This was the closing night of the festival and I went to Buster Mantis to watch “Beats of the Antanov”. Before the film started Andrew was perched on top of a ladder adjusting the projector hanging from the ceiling in the centre of the room! My heart was in my mouth as he balanced hands free on top of the ladder. He made it safely back down and we watched the film. It featured people of the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains in Sudan and how they are surviving that awful conflict there. Their music, drumming and singing seems to sustain them through the horrific times they are living through.I met Ivo afterwards and we talked about the film as we walked home to our bit of Deptford. It was an exhausting ten days of film watching but also educational and entertaining.