What does it mean to belong in Brixton?

person looking at 3d film through vr headset
Viewing early takes for the virtual reality film. LIBBY KNOWLES

Michael Groce and Charlotte Knowles on the making of a film about Brixton and its people

The Coldharbour Project is a 360˚ virtual reality (VR) film and oral history project produced in Brixton during August with the intention of exploring what it means to belong.

The immersive film – viewed through VR headsets – takes viewers on an alternative tour of Brixton, meeting people along the way who have shaped Brixton’s strong and symbolic cultural fabric over several decades.

Produced by the Independent Film Trust and Booted and Rooted, the participatory project has involved local people at every stage of the production process. The Coldharbour project started with six months of free workshops in research, 360˚ storytelling, recording oral histories and exhibition curation held at the Brixton Library, the Advocacy Academy Campus, the Brixton Pound Cafe, and Lambeth Archives.

From these workshops, more than 20 local people signed up to join the community production team that produced the final film.

The Coldharbour project takes viewers on a journey through Brixton Market to the Express Cafe in Market Row, Universal Roots Records, Windrush Square, Coldharbour Lane, Railton Road (the Frontline), and the Sports and Social Club.

Brixton Immortals dominoes club players in the Sports and Social Club on Coldharbour Lane
Brixton Immortals dominoes club players in the Sports and Social Club on Coldharbour Lane

Along the way, we meet acclaimed novelist Alex Wheatle, S I Martin, Felix Buxton (Basement Jaxx), Ricky Ranking, George Lightfoot (Nasty Rockers), Paul Reid, first director of the Black Cultural Archives, former Lambeth council leader Linda Bellos, Michael Groce of the Green Man Skills Zone project, the Legs Eleven Sound System and the Brixton Immortals Domino Team, as well as market traders and customers.

Community production team member Michelle described the process as “an amazing opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and creatively work on a project together that benefits the community as a whole.”

The production process has offered an intensive training opportunity that will enable more heritage and VR projects to be made locally in the future. The Coldharbour project will be exhibited at Brixton Library from 18 – 27 October.

The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has been supported by the University of the Arts London.

To find out more about the project and to book a place at the exhibition, go to independentfilmtrust.org/coldharbour or follow @independentfilmtrust on Instagram.

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