New documentary revisits the Toxteth Riots

Posted on 26 September 2017
By Khyle Deen
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Award-winning Liverpool filmmaker James Arthur Armstrong will shed new light on the Toxteth Riots with his upcoming documentary Sin Bin of the City.

The short film explores the violence which rocked the L8 community in the summer of 1981 and delves into the political and social upheaval of the city’s black community during that period.

Combining archive footage with fresh firsthand testimony, Sin Bin of the City aims to unravel the events of that fateful summer and cut through the noise to the voices of the community at the centre of the conflict.

Prominent figures from the Toxteth community – including Wally Brown, Chair of the Community Relations Council at the time of the riots, and John Lamb, who worked alongside Michael Heseltine in the Merseyside Task Force – have provided testimony for the documentary.

James obtained newsreel footage for the film after winning the ITN Source Short Film Competition at the 2016 Sheffield Doc/Fest with his micro-short documentary, Ferguson, Missouri. First prize was access to the vast archives of ITN Source and the right to use its material in his next project.

James says: “For many people, the events of the summer of 1981 are something that should be forgotten – a blot on the history of a city and a community that is best left in the past. This film aims to re-open the history books, bring unheard accounts to light and, most importantly, reflect on the modern relevance to wider communities today. History should be something that we learn from, not something we ignore.

“Sin Bin of the City is currently in the final stages of production with hopes of community
screenings and tours of the film festival circuit from Autumn 2017. There is the hope that, in
addition to film screenings, there can be a wider discussion on, and engagement with, the themes
and issues presented in the film.”

Produced by Manchester-based Cosmic Joke, Sin Bin of the City is in the final stages of production
and will be shown around Liverpool at venues including Museum of Liverpool and Constellations,
as well as on the autumn festival circuit, from next month.

Screening Dates
Friday 13th October 2017
Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre 
Screening: 8pm w/ filmmaker discussion

Note: First public screening of the film, and is a private event for the residents of Liverpool 8 only.
Saturday 14th October 2017

Museum of Liverpool
Screening: 1:30pm + Q&A w/ filmmakers and Anna Rothery
Free admission, open to public

Wednesday 8th November 2017
Screening: 8pm + Q&A w/ filmmakers, Anna Rothery and Wally Brown
Free admission, open to public
Note: This event will also be the launch of a two-week long gallery exhibition displaying newspaper
excerpts, photographs and unheard audio interviews
Sunday 19th November 2017
Norwich Film Festival
Screening: 3pm

Note: This will be the film’s festival premiere. Film director James Arthur/Armstrong won an award
at this festival last year for “Ferguson, Missouri”