The story of Dartmouth Park Film Club

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Founder Lizzie Gillett on why she started it – and the treat that’s in store tonight


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Earl Cameron (left) in Sapphire, show tonight. He will also be doing a Q&A at the age of 98. Photo: CC
Earl Cameron (left) in Sapphire, show tonight. He will also be doing a Q&A at the age of 98. Photo: CC
When I was 15 I saw a movie that changed my life. In The Name Of The Father is based on the true story of four people falsely convicted of a violent IRA bombing. The injustice made my blood boil and set me on a path to make political documentaries.

Fast-forward twenty years and I’m a film producer living in Dartmouth Park. A fellow producer who lives locally, Christo Hird, mentioned the idea of a local film club and together with his colleague, Matt, we decided to go for it. We knew that lots of film and TV people lived in the area and we hoped to watch each others’ work and build a network of likeminded people. We also wanted to support the Highgate Library which had its budget cut massively recently.

Lizzie Gillett in action on her day job:
Lizzie Gillett in action on her day job. Photo: LG
So we launched the Dartmouth Park Film Club last October. We show features that have a local connection: often they’re made by people who live in NW5 (or N19), or they star locals, or they’ve been filmed in the area. You’d be shocked how many well-known producers, directors and actors live around these parts.

We always have a Q&A afterwards, often with the filmmaker who lives locally. So far we’ve had renowned director Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland, Touching The Void) and double Oscar-winning producer Simon Chinn (Man On Wire, Searching for Sugarman).

Our screenings are free to attend, so anyone can come, but we do ask people to contribute what they think the evening is worth, and what they can personally afford, when they leave. As a guide we suggest a donation of “£10 if it was a good night out, £5 if you could’ve had as much fun at home with Netflix and some biscuits, or £0 if it was rubbish”. People donate £7 on average – and this covers our running costs.

You might even be able to scoff a few of these babies. Photo: LG
You might even be able to scoff a few of these babies. Photo: LG
Our is developing a lovely community vibe: some people bring cakes they’ve baked; we pass bottles of wine around during the Q&A; volunteers put up posters on trees to share the workload; and the family who run Joginder’s Supper Club bring along delicious Indian snacks to every event.

The best moment is seeing people get emotional as they watch. It reminds me of the power of film to move people and the importance of a big screen and a group experience: after the Tom Hardy film ‘Locke’ we all felt as if we’d been on an emotional rollercoaster together.

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Next Event: Sapphire, Mon April 18

sapphire_posterWe’re thrilled our next screening is the 1959 classic Sapphire, shot in and around Hampstead Heath. Basil Dearden’s ground-breaking tale stars Nigel Patrick and Michael Craig as two Scotland Yard detectives who are investigating the murder of a young black woman who had been “passing” for white. It won the BAFTA for Best British Film in 1959 and locals will recognise many of the streets and locations.

We even have one of the only surviving cast members, Earl Cameron, coming to do a Q&A after the film. He’s 98 years old and agreed to come on the condition someone could ferry him and his wife down from Warwickshire. So one of our lovely DPFC people has volunteered to drive them all the way down and back.

Sapphire is shown on Monday, April 18 at Highgate Library Civic Centre, Croftdown Road, 7pm. More info: dartmouthparkfilmclub.com


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