Harry Belafonte and Marlon Brando.
Belafonte and Brando. Susanne Rostock’s award-winning documentary, Sing Your Song, surveys the life and times of singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte.

By Angela Lovely

The American civil rights movement and eco-activism in Surrey will be featured at December’s London Socialist Film Co-op screening at the Bolivar Hall in Grafton Way. 

Sing Your Song (Dir: Susanne Rostock, USA 2011 [12A], 103 mins) documents the life of singer, actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte. From his rise to fame as a singer, inspired by Paul Robeson, and his experiences touring a segregated country, to his provocative crossover into Hollywood, Belafonte’s ground-breaking career personifies the American civil rights movement and impacted many other social justice movements.

Director Susan Rostock reveals Belafonte as a tenacious hands-on activist, who worked intimately with Dr Martin Luther King Jr., mobilised celebrities for social justice, participated in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and took action to counter gang violence, prisons, and the incarceration of youth.

Belafonte drew unwarranted invasions by the FBI into both his personal life and career, which led to years of struggle. But an indomitable sense of optimism motivates his path even today as he continues to ask, at 84, “What do we do now?” His example may very well inspire you to action.

Winner Vancouver International Festival 2011, Best Documentary NAMIC Vision Award 2012.

Modern day Diggers and eco-villagers in Surrey are the subject of the short film Land and Freedom (Dir: Uzma Hussain, UK 2012 [E], 14.36 min). Eco-villagers in Egham, draw attention to land deliberately left under-used on woodland left dormant by developers. Ash trees become sustainable structures, wattle and daub techniques replace industrial models; solar power generates light sources and recharges laptops; food comes from organic vegetables and a permaculture garden. This is modern living ‘off the grid’ and demonstrated in the workshops they run, against the background of a court injunction, eviction notices and police visits.

The screening of Land and Freedom is followed by a discussion led by Jacqui Mckenzie, Caribbean Labour Solidarity, and Simon Moore, Egham Eco-Villager.

London Socialist Film Co-op, Sunday 8 December 2013. Time: 10:20am for 11 am start. Venue: Bolivar Hall, 54 Grafton Way, London W1T 5DL. Nearest tube: Warren Street. Tickets: available from 10:20 am on the day and may not be booked in advance. Admission £10, Concessions £8, annual members £6/£4 (sorry no credit cards). Annual Subscription £12. Enquiries: nseyd@hotmail.com, 020-7278 5764.