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A treasure trove of cinematic history


THERE is an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of film history in the Cinema Museum, Kennington, which is starting to shine a spotlight on the black experience – and it is calling for volunteers.

Established in 1986 by Ronald Grant and current director Martin Humphries, the collection is an ode to the picture houses and palaces of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

It houses an array of film projectors, films, vintage uniforms, photo collections of famous and little known actors, a library and a beautiful cinematic screening area.

HISTORY: Cinema Museum

Black film is represented with Sidney Poitier, the first black talent to win an Oscar for best actor, along with legends Lena Horne, Paul Robeson and British stars Elizabeth Welch and Earl Cameron, CBE.

The Cinema Museum, which is self-funded, is also a place of memory.

“We get a lot of people here who are totally stimulated in terms of what they are seeing bringing back memories from their past,” says Cinema Museum director Martin Humphries.

“We get people who remember going to the cinema as a child. We get people who remember going to the cinema, opening the side door and letting their chums in for nothing.”

To say it is just a museum is a disservice. It hosts educational events, screenings, talks and exhibitions, plus it is available to rent.

LEGEND: Earl Cameron

This month, the venue will play host to the inaugural British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) Awards, taking place on September 17. Hosted by Capital XTRA DJ Abrantee and Metro film editor Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, the event will award filmmakers and scriptwriters whose films have been showcased by the British Urban Film Festival since it was launched by Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe in 2005.

“It seemed to make sense to do [an awards ceremony] now, to coincide with 10 years of BUFF,” said Anyiam-Osigwe. “It will acknowledge films from the festivals over the last 10 years, so we’ll be going through a big back catalogue.”

FILM BUFF: British Urban Film Festival founder Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe

Plans are underway at the cinema for Black History Month (October) and if you are interested in film – students take note – why not volunteer for one of the positions on offer or take a leading role in the October programme? Visit the website for more details.

For more information, visit

The British Urban Film Festival Awards will take place at Cinema Museum, London SE11 on September 17.

For more information, visit

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