Wolverhampton filmmaker bringing 1980s video rental store back to life

A short film about a video rental shop in 1980s Wolverhampton has brought a lost world back to life while celebrating the Asian community and the films that united them.

Dawinder decided to use the original items as a time capsule to re-create her family’s living room
Dawinder decided to use the original items as a time capsule to re-create her family’s living room

Jambo Cinema has been created by award-winning artist, filmmaker and producer Dawinder Bansal, from Wolverhampton. It’s all about her parent’s corner shop in Harrow Street, Wolverhampton, which rented out Bollywood films.

“Jambo Cinema is a love letter to my father who died suddenly in 1988, aged just 48,” says Dawinder.

“After his death, the family shop, Bansal Electrics, had to close and most of the original VHS tapes, film posters, fixtures and fittings were stored away in our garage.

“It was a way of keeping hold of a part of him and also because my mum is Indian she was of the opinion ‘we’ve spent money on this so we’re not giving it away to anyone!’

“Nearly 30 years later I began to sort through the garage discovering old ledgers, electrical supplies, the original shop till and of course hundreds of video tapes. The memories came flooding back and the seed of Jambo Cinema was firmly planted.”

Dawinder decided to use the original items as a time capsule to re-create her family’s living room and shop in an evocative art installation at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and also at New Art Exchange in Nottingham and has gone on to make the short film telling the story.

Dawinder recreated her family's shopin an evocative art installation at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

As a seven-year-old, Dawinder earned pocket money making pirate copies of the films for her father – something she was completely innocent about at the time.

But in 1984 the authorities caught up with her father and he was prosecuted and fined £2,000. The shop became a community, it was a place to go for unofficial advice, people’s problems were solved and sometimes marriages were made.

Watching the films was a communal experience too, Dawinder, who is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts, recalls.

“You invited over all your family, your Auntie from next door, your Uncle from down the road. We’d pile into one room and have some food together.”

Jambo Cinema will be available to view across the UK as part of BFI’s London Film Festival from October 7.

“I’m honoured that Jambo Cinema has been selected from hundreds of others as part of the prestigious British Film Institute’s London Film Festival 2020.”

The film will premiere as part of Leytonstone Loves Film produced by the Barbican on October 2.

Visit www.bfi.org.uk/bfi-player to watch.

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