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Every Cook Can Govern: The life, works & impact of C.L.R. James

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clr james

This is the short trailer for the new film, Every Cook Can Govern: The life works & impact of C.L.R. James. The full film interweaves never-before-seen footage of C.L.R. James himself with personal contributions from those who knew him and astute historical and political analysis from leading scholars of his work.

The result is an epic feature-length documentary which grapples with issues from colonialism to cricket, from slavery to Shakespeare, from Marxism to the movies and from reading to revolution.

The film’s unique production history – crowd-funded, crowd-featured and crowd-filmed with over 200 volunteer camera operators, presenters and researchers – does credit to James’ conviction that every cook can govern.

The full film to screen and on DVD will be available from late April 2016.

Don’t miss the London launch, for tickets please click here.

Related topics: History

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Nathalie said:

What I like about this video is the the sheer number of people interviewed about C.L.R.James. They’re people from all different backgrounds and countries, and whether they’re experts in their fields or not, they’ve all been touched in some way by this man who bridged a lot of seemingly impossible divides. It gives a great sense of just how widely he influenced the world.

Maher said:

Great educational video to watch, and everyone should watch

Jay said:

I was struck by the title of the documentary, an apt summation of the bottom-up, grassroots nature of C.L.R. James’ politics. The documentary is shown to runs the gamut of his political life, from his leading the anti-fascist movement on behalf of Ethiopia from Britain, his magnum opus “The Black Jacobins” (a history of the Haitian revolution), to his reports of detainee life on Ellis Island. What particularly piqued my interest was James’ interweaving politics with cricket. I look forward to watching this documentary.

Hannah said:

C.L.R James was an inspiring political activist and this video has led me down a rabbit hole of links and other videos about his life which I have thoroughly enjoyed. As Hudson states in the video, James’ story is a remarkable one, as he ‘turned his back on a comfortable life in Britain’, went to the US, and began to campaign for Black people’s rights, eventually being arrested and ejected from the country for his political views. His revolutionary works and speeches have captivated many people, even after his death. It is clear so see from the video that those who knew him personally and those who’ve studied him have a great deal of admiration for the man. To have come to Britain from the West Indies in 1932 and by 1936 have written a revolutionary book is a fascinating success story, one that would have been impossible to imagine considering the era and people’s attitudes towards slavery and African-Americans. I feel that James was a unique, brave and determined man in order to achieve success so soon after arriving in Britain.
His Marxist ideas pushed boundaries at a time when it was difficult to do so for a black man in England and particularly the US during that time. For example, Hitler’s popularity was on the rise in Europe, and there was still segregation in the US. This rightly so created fear for many minority groups. He must have faced hard challenges and lots of opposition, yet never gave up and strived for change until the day he died. Clearly an intelligent man, he has been compared to other great past philosophers and it strikes me as a great shame that he has not received more attention. For example, I did not learn anything about James at school or sixth form, despite studying history. This baffles me as he has clearly been very influential across many sectors, not just politics. He was even the first black Caribbean author to be published in the UK, which is no small feat. It is great that the CLR James project created by WORLDwrite is drawing attention to his achievements and life-story. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn, I can now enjoy creating discussions with friends and family about James’ life.

Jessie said:

I think it’s so important to highlight and discuss influential figures who are often forgotten in mainstream discourse especially figures involved in radical politics. I like how there are interviews from many different kinds of experts who have different opinions but help to tell his story. I am inspired to learn more.

Rachel said:

Well-researched and packed with a diverse number of educated speakers, this is a masterpiece in mini-docs built to paint the picture of the life and history of CLR James.

Clara said:

intriguing trailer, really made me want to watch the film. I realised how much I don’ know in this topic.

Nina said:

I’d never heard of C.L.R James. Even as a mixed race queer Brit with a strong interest in social equality and change. These are the voices that go completely erased from British history and skew our collective views of who ‘leads’ and who changes society for the better- this was truly inspiring and a great uncovering of erased marginalised identities. Excellent!

William said:

I think the biggest movements of political change in recorded history haven;t been spear-headed by those who have, but it is done by those who have not. Basically, if you want things to change, you must do it yourself and not wait for someone more powerful to do it for you. This is a clear example of a man who had everything, gave it away, and used his influence to make real change and that is what’s important.

Michelle said:

I was shocked because I’ve lived in the UK for over half my life and I’ve never heard of C.L.R James through my education at the British school system especially given his role in anti fascist movements and anti-racism movements. I enjoyed the short video and I’m pleased that documentary is being dedicated to an extraordinary that I feel more people should know about.

Stephanie said:

I had the pleasure of watching the full documentary of C.L.R James and I loved every moment of it. I follow the Sankofa philosophy, which states that “you must go backwards to know where you are going”, and I believe that this film personified that. There is a lot of lessons to be learned from the life of C.L.R James and how he was able to make his voice heard during a very socially volatile period.

Mara said:

Great, short and snappy video praising C.L.R James’s work and influence on the black community.
Editorially speaking, a wonderfully mastered pace and great music to recreate the mood of those times.

Ola said:

I found the video to be very interesting as this person has has led an inspirational life. I didn’t know about his work so this enlightened me.

Erin said:

My first thought was – wow what a richly packed life he led!!

I think documentaries like this are really important in exposing hidden histories and stories that we don’t always learn about at school. The crossovers between major events in 20th century history, world political movements and even cricket, told through the unrelentingly proactive life’s work of C.L.R. James is fascinating.

Tania said:

An intriguing introduction to a story I may never have known about had I not seen this. Thanks for covering it!

Mahmoud said:

The documentary appears to have quite a comprehensive grip on the life and works of CLR James. It is often best to tell the story of the man himself through the people who knew him best, and this documentary does that by incorporating a range of voices, from activists to scholars to close family members.

Fabian said:

C.L.R James, who? This is the first time i have heard of this individual.

This is the power of the media and video, this is what televisión should be teaching us. Reminding us of the people who fought for their rights in a world depriving them of the simple things in life.

Our new generation is forgetting the struggle and fights of our previous genrations, as our focus is on media that produces money and not on media that produces learning. And after seen this video there is one thing to do, find out who C.L.R James is and learn of his experiences.

Sadia said:

An engaging collection of different academics and thinkers on C.L.R James life and influence in society and culture.

Nebeyatt said:

As a fan of history, I appreciate how this video ventures into all of the subtle as well as obvious impacts C.L.R James had on race, politics, and sport. The vast array of interviews was helpful to emphasize just how diverse James’s impacts really were.

Laura said:

Watching this video was for me a high school flashback of James greatest moments and achievements ,especially about his published book the black jacobins which was about the Haitian revolution , and as a haitian i felt so connected to it . I am amazed of his works and the quality of his writing which qualified him to be included in the first rank of twentieth century intellectuals.

Abolaji said:

Very inspiring and inspirational to see that an indivual such as C.L.R James has had his legacy maintained in such a manner. I will be sure to watch the film which I’m sure will inform me of wider historical issues.

Tom said:

This is a lively introduction to the life of CLR James. it gives a flavour of his life and makes you want to learn more. There are a diverse mix of people being interviewed and it covers a lot of aspects of his life- politics, sport, writing.

Tola said:

Truth be told, I did not know who C.L.R. James was prior to watching this trailer but I’m definitely intrigued to watch the full documentary. The story of C.L.R. James should be known by this generation and the ones to come

Maryam said:

Loved the quick pace which cuts quickly to different scenes, and different people’s opinions of him which are strong statements (not babbling) – this makes it engaging. Also a diverse range of people were interviewed which makes it interesting.

Ryan said:

This video was very interesting for me because i have never heard of C.L.R. James and the rich legacy he left behind.The video was well presented with its guest speakers and phtotograhs.

Rosa said:

Looks like a strong documentary on an extraordinary man. Who’s story is not represented and told enough in modern society.

Kehinde said:

C.L.R. James is amongst many of the influential people who campaigned for equality and sort to make a difference in the world. As an African who lives in Hackney and has frequented the Dalston CLR James Library a countless amount of times, I am not only inspired by his works but also his dedication and willingness to leave a comfortable lifestyle to move to 1940’s America. This video gave me extra and useful information on C.L.R.’s background and mentality.

Yan said:

I thought it was a well done trailer, I’d never even heard of C.L.R James before but now im genuinely interested

Yaren said:

Very good camerawork.
The video is very clear said explaining the topic very well.

Vanessa said:

This is a good trailer into C.L.R James , I really want to watch this film .

Jacque said:

Very good range of interviews providing a wealth of information. Good mixture of old and new footage.

Thomas said:

I had not previously heard of C.L.R. James, but this short trailer has not only made me want to see the feature length film, but also to find out more about him myself. I am very impressed just from this short trailer at the depth of research, interviews and also the quality of the filmmaking.

Tricia said:

I’m impressed by the level of knowledge and thorough research that went into maintaining C.L.R James’ legacy. Can’t wait to watch it!

Sophie Rance said:

I just watched the film, it’s a fascinating insight into the life of an inspiring and uncompromising revolutionary. It covers such a wealth of global history and politics, I would highly recommend it!

Sofia M said:

Wow this looks ‘stunning’ indeed.

Jane Cowlard said:

It is about time someone made a film about this hero-I only know the Black Jacobins by him and look forward to finding out more. Thank you.

Jane Cowlard said:

About time someone made a film about this hero-I only know the Black Jacobins by him and look forward to finding out more. Thank you.

Ceri Dingle said:

Thank you for your inquiry Gerrand, there are still some tickets left for our launch screening mark two at 12 noon on April 23rd at Rich Mix Cinema screen 2 Shoreditch London Full details and tickets are available to book here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/clr-james-film-screening-every-cook-can-govern-tickets-22735454356

Gerrand Pooley said:

This trailer is amazing! I’d love to see the full film, is it on anywhere?