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Sidney's Chair (1995)

Courtesy of National Film and Television School

Main image of Sidney's Chair (1995)
16mm, 21 min, colour
DirectorRoberto Bangura
Production CompanyNational Film & Television School
ProducerStephen Marsh
ScreenplayRoberto Bangura
CinematographyNestor Calvo Pichardo
MusicRobert Lane

Cast: Ricci Beevas (Ricci Owobe); Fiona Molloy (Mina); Oke Wambu (Ade Owobe); Sharon Maiden (Angela Owobe); Jabu Mbalo (Gabriel the tramp)

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The arrival of famous American star Sidney Poitier to a neighbourhood in East London is a momentous event for a young black boy and his friends.

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A charming short film written and directed by Roberto Bangura while he was a student at the National Film and Television School. Lighting cameraman Nesto Calvo Pichardo's beautifully composed shots imbue the film with a quality that manages to make Stepney in East London look enchanting. The film rests on a deceptively simple premise, the effects of a momentary encounter with fame on the lives of ordinary people. However the film raises more issues than it can resolve in twenty minutes.

Racial identity presents a troubling, ever-present dilemma for young Ricci Owobe (Ricci Beevas). On the one hand he racially insults Gabriel the tramp and despises the colour of his father, while on the other the great Black American actor Sidney Poitier is revered. Bangura's attempt at a neat conclusion through the father (Oke Wambu) berating a racist driver is an evasion that undermines the story. The difficulties faced by a mixed family in 1960s East London are explored for dramatic and emotional potential, although as the film doesn't take into account the consequences, we don't have the full story.

Nevertheless, this early work shows confidence and talent. Bangura went on to direct the feature film The Girl With Brains In Her Feet (1997) and his growing television CV includes episodes of London Bridge (ITV, 1996-99), Casualty (BBC, 1986-), The Lakes (BBC, 1997-99) and Footballers' Wives (ITV, 2002-).

Ann Ogidi

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Video Clips
1. On set with Sidney (2:17)
2. 'I love you the way you are' (1:15)
3. Ice cream accident (2:17)
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