The BFI’s essential African Odysseys strand continued last Saturday with a premiere screening of Menelik Shabazz’ brilliant feature documentary The Story of Lovers Rock.
Initially shown as a work-in-progress version at the 2009 BFM International Film Festival, The Story of Lovers Rock tells the tale of an era and a music – romantic reggae – that defined a generation in the UK of the late 1970s and early 80s. Combining live performances, interviews from the key figures of the scene, and winningly funny sketches (fans of 1990s comedy series The Real McCoy will enjoy contributions from Eddie Nestor and Robbie Gee), the film paints a fascinating and compelling picture of an influential, yet hitherto undocumented, moment in time.
In presenting the story Shabazz, a skilled documentarian, doesn’t ignore the chastening political context of the time, referencing Sus laws and race riots along the way. However, he displays a deftness and lightness of touch which never lets us forget that his core subject is the joyousness of the music and a developing sense of black British identity.
The Story of Lovers Rock is screening for a second time this Saturday 16 April at the Notting Hill Coronet. Doors open at 1.30 for a 2pm start. You can only buy tickets online, and you can get them HERE. And you really, really should.
Although the film is practically complete, it needs support to ensure that all loose ends are tied up with rights clearances before it can move on to the next stage – the emotional rollercoaster of distribution and marketing. It deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.