Imagine your typical Monday night doesn’t usually include ambient lighting, reclining armchairs and period films but when in the care of Piece of Cake Productions, the night is far from typical. Last week, Lude Magazine had the pleasure of viewing Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ at Dean Street’s Soho House. Although set in 1950’s America, the film explored societal issues prevalent in modern day society, including masculinity, family planning and race relations; more than enough to spark a heated Q+A session running way past curfew. I don’t know what my expectations were, but walking into the screening room definitely blew them out the water. You knew exactly what you were there for with a slick projection of the POCP logo beaming over forty-three perfectly lined seats, complete with a lamp and footrest, which doubled-up as a chest for your belongings. Hosts Shakira Newton and Ibraheem Toure welcomed all guests with open arms and kicked off the evening with a high energy introduction to their company’s mission to provide ‘a creative hub for global majority artists’.

Words by Damali Tyson

The option of a black and white film would usually sway me to choose something else more current and ‘relative’ to my experience, however not having the option to flick over presented a welcome surprise. From the very first scene, I became engulfed by the story of an African American family navigating their way through their individual lives, whilst trying their best to stay united as a group of people with the same shared values. Though, the most significant factor in both their success and demise is money. Having each character represent the difference between generations and their view of stability, aspiration and wealth was by far the golden thread of the film, but I couldn’t help but think about the plot through a historical lens. As we may know, the United States of America was at the the height of Jim Crow Law and regardless of being in the north, the diaspora would feel the wrath of entrenched racism and inequality; ‘white flight’ of particular American neighbourhoods being a prevalent one as affluence began to spread beyond the traditional American family unit.

The tension between characters, namely the eldest son Walter Lee Younger (Sidney Poitier), sister Beneatha Younger (Diana Sands) and mother Lena Younger (Claudia McNeill). The narrative between them took you through a journey of fear to joy, concern to pleasure and laughter to tears, something that the audience felt passionately and worked as a collective to grapple with every little concept brought to life by the screenplay.

Joining Shakira on the Q+A panel was writer of ‘Retrograde’ and ‘For Black Boy’s’ Ryan Calais Cameron and actress, Karla-Simone Spence of ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ and ‘Blue Story’- another huge highlight for a Monday night in London. For someone without an acting background it was fascinating to hear the perspectives of those in the field as their interpretations of the film were some I had never even considered, leading to a multidisciplinary conversation bouncing around the room. Despite the fact that those who raised points in the Q+A entered the chat at different angles, there was an overwhelming consensus that, as Ryan put it, the film was ‘ahead of its time’. Everything to do with family dynamics, gender, race will always remain the same so long as societal norms and structures remain unchallenged.

As the night rolled to a close and we all said our goodbyes, I think all of those present would agree that we left a little bit more knowledgeable and definitely better connected as a people’s with a shared identity and outlook on the world. The evening with Piece of Cake was a beautiful one leaving me looking forward to another Monday night filled with intellectual curiosity and the sharing of experiences. Walking home through the chaotic streets of London’s West End, the night undoubtedly had me in a world of my own, reflecting on points raised and lessons learned, as well as carrying away a feeling of calm and luxury. Being the first instalment of POCP Vintage Film club, be sure to keep your eyes peeled and your notifications on for their next screening in September.

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