A biopic detailing the life of Claudia Jones, the woman who set the foundations for Notting hill Carnival, has been given a boost in its production process.
CLAUDIA will detail Jones’ life, with special emphasis on the role she played in the development of Notting Hill Carnival. Driven by an aim to “wash the taste of Notting Hill and Nottingham [race riots] out of our mouths” following racial unrest in 1958, Jones used her political connections to secure the St Pancras town hall for the Mardi-Gras based indoor “Caribbean Carnival” at St Pancras Town Hall in January of 1959.
Though the film is in relatively early production stages, it has been confirmed to be collaboratively produced by BAFTA winner Nadine Marsh-Edwards’ Greenacre Films, Trinidad and Tobago’s Imagine Media and Frances-Anne Solomon’s Canada-based CaribbeanTales Media Group. British actor and director Adjoa Andoh, who’s worked on Bridgerton and Dr. Who also joins the team as a co-creator and co-writer.
Claudia Jones was a Trinidad and Tobago born journalist, feminist and activist who grew up in the US. After becoming a Communist political activist in early adulthood, she was ordered to leave the states under the McCarran Act ( which prevented non-US citizens from joining the Communist Party) and was offered residency in the UK.
There, she became a lifelong member of the communist party of Great Britain and founded Brittain’s first major Black newspaper – The West Indian Gazette in 1958. This newspaper has been credited as a key asset in mobilising Black British political consciousness at the time and contained pieces from influential figures like W.E.B Du Bois.
The event was televised by the BBC, and the original 1959 brochure had a caption that read “A part of the proceeds [from the sale] of this brochure are to assist the payments of fines of coloured and white youths involved in the Notting Hill events.”
Though St Pancras Hall’s “Caribbean Carnival” did not directly become the Carnival we know today, Jones’ work and annual events are an undoubtable precursor to for 1966’s Notting Hill Fayre – a streetwide public celebration of West Indian culture and Black artistry.
Nadine Marsh-Edwards, who also produced 2018’s Been So Long, starring Michaela Coel, says “Greenacre Films is proud to partner with Frances-Anne and CaribbeanTales to tell the story of a remarkable Black woman whose achievements helped to shape the London we live in today,”.
CLAUDIA has no planned release date, but it’s support from delegates at the film industry networking organisation – European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs – has been described as “heart-warming” by it’s producers.
Tiffanie Ibe is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow her on Instagram
Written by: Tim Hopkins