Former World boxing champion discusses film at FACT
26 February 2007
The community, based in the centre of Liverpool, has been in existence for over 150 years and is described by the people who live there as a melting pot of races, religions and cultures. Touch of the Tar Brush (1991), directed by John Akomfrah (Black Audio Film Collective, Smoking Dogs Films) for the BBC series Think of England, travelled to Liverpool to find the 'Class of '33' immortalized in text by journalist and author JB Priestley. The Yorkshireman wrote about the youngsters while profiling the country in his novel An English Journey (1933). Having stumbled across the Liverpool 1 community while staying at the Adelphi, he wrote, "All the faces of mankind are here - a miniature League of Nations in England."
Akomfrah traces the history of English attitudes to mixed-race couples by using contemporary interviews with two Liverpool families alongside archive TV clips. He argues this small community, and the mix of races within it, made this a "safe haven" from bigotry experienced elsewhere. "Any discussion (about being mixed-race) has to be set in Liverpool because that's where it all began."
Christine Quarless and her family were just one who took part in the film. She is delighted it is being screened at FACT. "When this documentary was shown for the first time, many people in and around Liverpool were not aware this community existed. However, they are aware today with all the regeneration going on in the area - even the building where FACT is based was once a place where local people worked, which gave people who lived outside the area a chance to see, meet and work with others from a variety of races, backgrounds and cultures."
Encouraging a timely debate just three years after calls for multiculturalism to be scrapped, former World Boxing Champion John Conteh will take part in a discussion after the screening to talk about his recollection of being interviewed for the documentary and his impressions on the film's significance. Members of the two families interviewed in the film will also take part in the debate.