Get to know your neighbours: Hassan Vawda

Who are they?

Hassan Vawda is a local researcher, installation artist, painter and poet whose work looks to structures of communities for support, resistance and as a challenge to dominant cultures.

What are they up to at Leytonstone Loves Film? 

Hassan will be recreating the Asian Cinema Clubs of the borough's past showing the rarely screened Pyaasa this Sunday at 3.30pm, a defining classic of Hindi cinema's golden age.

He'll be taking over St John's Church - there are limited places so we recommend coming down early but just as with the clubs of the past, we will squeeze in as many as possible comfortably, watching the film communally with chai and samosas! 

What were the Asian Cinema Clubs?

​The Asian Cinema Clubs were a significant space throughout the UK in the 60's and 70's, particularly before VHS. They were truly community spaces, where local families and working people of the diaspora could convene over Indian cinema, and were unique in that the diaspora could here own their displacement and strengthen their collective and individual senses of community.

Waltham Forest had a few of these clubs, most notably the Apne Film Society - which AbdulMaalik Tailor discusses in his Walthamstow tours (a Hassan recommend!).

Why Pyaasa?

Hassan: "​My mum introduced me to Pyaasa 5 years ago, and I haven't really watched another film in the same way since. It was a truly moving cinematic experience, reflective of so many experiences in life - the world's harshness, the institutional forms of culture being so false, and money meaning so much that if you have an appreciation of true kindness and love, you're doomed. There is hope, you just have watch the film to find it..."

Hassan's favourite Leytonstone memory?

"I grew up down the road near Whipps Cross! My best memories are in the fields around Hollow Ponds, in the shadow of the Alfred Hitchcock Hotel."

How can I stay in touch?

Follow Hassan on Instagram and Twitter for all their news.


Get to know your neighbours: Stories & Supper

Still from Ugwumpiti

Who are they?

For nearly three years, Stories & Supper have been hosting their regular, socially-conscious supper clubs across Waltham Forest. They came about as a response to the hostility in politics and media around migration, with the aim of bringing together refugees, recent and long-term migrants and local residents over food and stories.

Their ethos: the more people sharing their stories, the more personal connections made to challenge the wider narrative of negativity around migration (their Why Stories Matter blog is well worth finding five for). It's all about creating spaces for people to feel welcome and for meaningful encounters to happen.

What are they up to at Leytonstone Loves Film?

They’ll be screening Eithnie Nightingale’s Ugwumpiti, a highly personal document of the life of Hackney musician Maurice Nwokeji. Nwokeji recounts in unflinching detail his journey from warring Biafra to the UK as a nine year old refugee, with a soundtrack entirely composed by his band One Jah.

Phosphoros Theatre’s Syed Najibi, one of a company of actors who all came to the UK as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, will also perform an extract from the company’s latest show before joining Nwokeji in conversation about their shared experiences.

There’ll also (of course!) be food with delicious Hyderabadi dishes from their chef, Leytonstone resident, Shahnaz.

How did they come across Maurice Nwokeji’s story?

Helen Taylor, director: “Maurice heard about our project when we were running a series of workshops and story cafes earlier in the year with Queen Mary University. He came initially to support the newly arrived refugees in the team, but found himself sharing his own story. That’s how we heard about the film.

Ugwumpiti is a beautiful and moving account of what it’s like to be a child living through war and hunger and to then find yourself in the entirely different context of London. But the film is also an inspiring tribute to the strength of the human spirit, the power of love and the triumph of hope. Maurice is a big and beautiful character and his personality shines through.

Why does Leytonstone mean to them?

Helen: “Leytonstone was pretty much the first place I lived in London back in the early ’90s. I lived at the Green Man end of the Whipps Cross Rd when there were still cows on the roundabout. This was before the M11 link road changed the look and feel of it all. I’ve been back in the borough for 19 years now and I love its diversity and creativity, the green spaces and big skies.
How can you get involved?

Come along to their screening and listen to some stories at their Leytonstone Loves Film event, or catch one of their weekly meet-ups and regular supper clubs. Everyone is welcome and they’re always looking for new members of the team. Reach out on Facebook or Twitter

They’re also releasing a book of recipes and stories More than Recipes with the support of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019. Pre-order it through their Kickstarter, come along to their pre-launch supper on 16th November and, of course, buy it for all your relatives this Christmas!


Get to know your neighbours: Stow Film Lounge

Still: John Smith's Blight

Who are they?

Proudly the “antithesis of the multiplex”, for the better part of a decade Stow Film Lounge has been touring its mobile repertory cinema through Walthamstow and beyond.

Founded by theatre ex-pats Marcus Shepherd and Nick Bertram, now respectively writer-director and film journalist, the cinema has become known for both the striking reinterpretations of classic film posters that accompany each screening and the unmistakably independent bent to its programming – their back catalogue seeing Elia Kazan and Sergei Eisenstein rubbing shoulders with Ava DuVernay and Céline Sciamma, with directors like John Maclean (Slow West) and Robin Hardy (The Wicker Man) having dropped by to join them in conversation.

What are they up to at Leytonstone Loves Film?

A fair bit!

Stow Film Lounge have curated ‘On The Streets Where We Live’, a strand taking in the geography of the borough and interrogating senses of place and the communities embedded within them.

They’ll be screening Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, cult dance flick You Got Served alongside a very special anniversary screening of the work of avant garde filmmaker John Smith created during his decade and a half in Leytonstone.  

Last year they ventured into production, producing their first feature The Tricycle Thief – a thoroughly local affair, set in Waltham Forest and with an entirely local cast and crew – which will be screening with a selection of shorts, street food stalls and an after-party.

Their favourite Leytonstone memory?

Nick: "There are so many memories of the area - from walks around Hollow Ponds to live music at the What's Cookin' nights. However, for us, our favourite would be the deckchair cinema screenings in The Red Lion’s courtyard. Top picks have included Hitchcock's Vertigo, Rear Window, The Blues Brothers, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Indiana Jones to name but a few!"

How can you get involved?

You can make sure you’re in the know about their next screenings by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget their posters are all available to buy!


Get to know your neighbours: Women Over 50 Film Festival

Who are they?

Festival director, Nuala O’Sullivan: “I've lived in Walthamstow for almost 20 years and it was about 6 years ago that I came up with the idea of starting a film festival. I’d been a writer and producer, mainly for radio and theatre, for quite a few years when I wrote and produced a short film, Microscope, in 2014. I wrote it in my early ‘50s and it was about a middle-aged woman examining her life and marriage.

With my producer’s hat on, I started going to short film festivals to see where I thought the film might fit and found I wasn’t seeing many older women on the screen or amongst the people in the bar afterwards. Not many people talked to me. I felt lonely and isolated, which was the exact opposite of how I expected to feel in a room full of people who had the same interest and passion in storytelling.

It got me thinking about questions like: Who’s not running film festivals? Who’s not on the screen? Who’s not behind the camera? Who’s not in the room? I was talking to some pals about how I was feeling about my film and the festivals I've been to, and we decided to do something positive and fun about this lack we were all noticing. We said, "Why not start our own film festival?” And that’s how Women Over 50 Film Festival began.”

What are they up to at Leytonstone Loves Film?

On the afternoon of Saturday 28th September, they’re screening their best in class - from documentary to comedy, drama to animation and the more experimental, all from an older generation of women storytellers with women over 50 at their centre. The screening will be dementia-friendly meaning the lights will be up, chatting encouraged, and people can come and go as they please. Pop by for one or two, or stay for them all.

Their favourite Leytonstone memory?

“Though I'm not a huge Hitchcock fan, I do love the mosaics at Leytonstone Station that show scenes from some of his most famous films. Each time I come out of the tube at Leytonstone and see them, they bring back really happy memories of watching his films on TV with my family when I was growing up in Glasgow. I loved the excitement of trying to spot Hitchcock's cameo appearances in his films - of being the one to point at the telly and shout, ‘There he is!’”

How can you get involved?

The next edition of the festival is in fact taking the place the weekend before Leytonstone Loves Film! They’ll be parking up 20-22 September at Depot, Lewes with shorts, panels and workshops tackling ageism and sexism. Interested in volunteering? Drop Nuala a line by 1 Sept.


Get to know your neighbours: Beatroot Creative

Who are they?

With a focus on working in Waltham Forest and helmed by community development specialist Emma Betts, Beatroots Creative is a social enterprise committed to developing young people's skills, supporting health and wellbeing, and bringing communities together through music.

Last year, they developed the project Grime Waltham Forest to both shine a light on the borough's incredible grime heritage, and develop and showcase it’s young people's skills.

What are they up to at Leytonstone Loves Film?

As part of the project, Beatroots Creative commissioned youth focused social enterprise, MVP Workshops, to train and work with a group of 16-25 year old filmmakers to create Grime Waltham Forest – The Documentary – which we’re very pleased to be giving a hometown airing on Saturday 28th September.

The story of grime, now one of the UK’s most successful cultural exports, began right here in ‘00s East London with young, working class Londoners venting their frustrations through the kind of DIY music-making historically associated with punk.

The finished doc celebrates the artists, producers and promoters from the borough who contributed to the creation and development of the genre. The film features archive footage as well as interviews with JammerChad 'Ratty' StennettDPowerSharky MajorCoelle (aka Lady Fury), BruzaMizz Beats and Alex Boateng (aka Twin).

Their favourite memory of Leytonstone?

Emma: “Seeing so many amazing artists as part of Africa Express: The Circus as part of the Borough of Culture celebrations earlier this year is definitely one. 

In terms of the project, last year’s “Where next for Grime?” panel at the Leytonstone Ballroom - with Sharky Major, Jammer, Flowdan, Laura ‘Hyperfrank’ Brosnan, Lemzi and Twin, expertly chaired by Chantelle Fiddy - is another.  A chance to hear some of the legends of the genre, as well as the rising talent they’ve influenced, speaking together in one room and sharing their insights is something we won’t forget!”

How can you get involved?

Over the next few months, they’ll be adding more content to the Grime Waltham Forest website including footage from last year’s two week programme of events. They’re also going to be developing some educational resources for schools and colleges to sit alongside the film, as well as looking for more opportunities for screenings.

If you’d like to get involved in any of these activities, or more generally help out volunteering, get in touch with Emma.

And, of course, you can follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for their latest!


Get to know your neighbours: E17 Films

Who are they?

E17 Films are a Waltham Forest non-profit CIC community group founded in 2010 with a mission to “support emerging talent from around the corner, around the world.”

They run the Walthamstow International Film Festival co-founded by long-time locals Liza and Fletch Fletcher, alongside community workshops, school participation and screenings that look to tap into the diverse tastes and heritages of the neighbourhood they’ve now called home for 10 years.

They’re passionate about developing young talent across the borough and currently have more initiatives to nurture emerging creatives and a major presentation of Walthamstow’s silent film history in the works.

What are they up to at Leytonstone Loves Film?

On Wednesday 25th September we’re very excited to be hosting E17 Films’ second Future Film Focus, a free morning of talks about careers in TV journalism, factual entertainment and documentary for young people attending school or college in Waltham Forest.

There’ll be industry pros and previous E17 alumni talking about their experiences and taking students through navigating those precarious first steps into the industry. Plus, there’ll be lots of info on potential bursaries and apprenticeships.

School or community group keen to attend? Drop a line to [email protected].

Their favourite way to wile away a day in the borough?

Liza: “I love Leytonstone High Street and in particular, District Mot which does great veggie and vegan dishes. I also recommend The North Star pub hidden round the back with its lino floor and jukebox, unchanged since the 1980s.”

How can you get involved year-round?

If you’re a short filmmaker, submissions for the Walthamstow International Film Festival are open now for micro-shorts under 5 minutes. Get their next edition’s dates – June 13-14 2020 – in the diary now!

Plus, follow them on Twitter and Facebook to stay on top of their regular networking and training.