We did it! Last month The Syndicate was launched. The Syndicate is a gathering of opinionated film lovers that I created because I was bored at panel events. The best conversations happened during networking so; I decided to spotlight those conversations after a feature. I love constructive dialogue and The Syndicate is an opportunity to do just that, have honest unfiltered discussions about a range of topics. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this simple idea was not without its dramas.
It was as if everything was conspiring for the screening of ‘Get Out’ to not happen. From the terrorist attack and having to shift the date back in the early stages of planning to a non-existent tech run through. The icing on the cake actually happened on the day of screening. I hate being late so I always give myself a buffer. So there I went, with a two-hour buffer, it was sunny and I was feeling myself so I went out with no umbrella or flats, to catch my Uber in stilettos. Everything was cool as we drove through the black wall tunnel (this is a long, usually congested tunnel, for those not based in London) then all of a sudden we were stuck in traffic. I mean an unusually high-volume of traffic. Why? Because there was a race happening and then started the rain, not cute drizzling rain, torrential down pour. I was stuck, my two-hour buffer turned into nothing. So I did what any self-respecting woman would do, got out in the rain, with my rolling suitcase, and walked to the nearest tube station in my stilettos.
Was the drama over? No. Once I got to the venue, I discovered for this particular DVD there was a security lock that meant it blocked connection to a projector. I had to take a moment to laugh at the irony. Allow me to explain, I am a reforming illegal streamer. I say reforming because if it weren’t for Netflix I would still have my habitual behaviour. The reason is that there is a significant delay of US produced content such as Film and T.V. in Britain. This can sometimes mean a delay as significant as 6 months due to licensing deals and that is assuming it comes to Britain at all. As a responsible business owner, I made the decision to do the right thing. To get the film license for ‘Get Out’ and wait for the UK release date to screen; so the irony was not lost that after all of this, the movie would not play from my MAC when connected to the projector. I was smart enough to get a digital download just in case and that is what we used.
The drama was worth it in the end. We laughed and had intense conversations. We explored whether or not, the Amritages and kidnapping of black men could exist in Hemel Hempstead, UK as equally as a suburb in America. We talked about inter-racial relationships, if there is such a thing as ‘positive racism’, eugenics, stop and search tactics, tacit racism and staying away from white-girls named Rose. It never seems to end well in movies. There were some uncomfortable moments because these topics are uncomfortable but each view was communicated and received. Not everyone agreed but everyone was respected. This was not a ‘changing heart and minds’ exercise. We could have gone on for another two hours but we finished on time. I was grateful for the diversity in the room. It was not all black or white. There was a genuine mix of ethnicity and gender. This is particularly important for me given the type of conversations I want to have. I had a passing thought the other day and wondered how different the conversation might have been following the events in Charlottsville…
We now move from race to sexuality and identity with Moonlight: A Syndicate Screening on 9 September. I am looking forward to this because intimacy, sexual identity and masculinity aren’t topics that are usually discussed through the prism of a black male from the projects. We shortlisted five movies at the end of the ‘Get Out’ screening and it came down to a three-way tie between ‘The Matrix’ ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Moonlight’. I had to resend the survey to break the tie; thankfully I didn’t have to choose. How do you between the three not only are they vastly different; I did not want a La La Land situation. The outcome though, let me know that people want to talk about the ideas that Moonlight conveys. How the questioning aspects of life that is vulnerable and rarely discussed because of society, religion, culture, family and more continues to have a lasting impact.
I am particularly interested in hearing to what degree The Syndicate think sexuality informs identity and the role intimacy plays in constructing this.
I hope to see you there.
p.s. RSVP is required for this salon style screening.
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