Bristol & the African Connection – 3 film collection

This collection of films, made over almost two decades, tells a story about Bristol’s African connection and puts The Mayor’s Race film in context. Under The Bridge and Unfinished Business are directed by Shawn Naphtali Sobers and The Mayor’s Race by Loraine Blumenthal. 

When viewed together, there are distinguishable lines of poetry. The sense of  the poetry in history has been heightened since 7th June 2020, with Bristol’s role in the global Black Lives Matter demonstrations.  Lines of poetry are also there in Marvin Rees’ own journey from journalist, critical of political leaders, to his painful attempt to become a political leader.

These three films by two filmmakers, made over nearly two decades, cross five centuries of history and offer a backstory for connections between Bristol,  Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean and Black Lives Matter in 2020.

Please note that two of the films are free to view and one is pay-to-view. We hope the whole triptych will be enjoyed and help with understanding some things that are going on today.

Directed by Shawn Naphtali Sobers

Produced by Firstborn for HTV


This film, directed by Shawn Naphtali Sobers, looks at how the city opened up the conversation about its connection to transatlantic slavery – or the ‘African trade’. It begins in the year 2000 with a new exhibition and the dedication of a new footbridge to an enslaved African who lived in the city.

Directed by Shawn Naphtali Sobers,

Produced by Firstborn Studios & Little Gem Productions for BBC



This film, also directed by Shawn Naphtali Sobers, sees Marvin Rees as a journalist with a polemic about a racial fracture that still exists in the city – at the 200th anniversary of the 1807 Slave Trade (Abolition) Act.  He now wants to talk about race and power.  After a chat at Clippers barbershop he takes his issues to the political leaders and shares his ideas about how to move forward.

Directed by Loraine Blumenthal,

Independent production


Loraine Blumenthal’s film sees Marvin Rees return in a new role. This time he is looking to be elected as the Bristol’s mayor. He holds doubt and insecurity about his own place in the city and the audacity of having such lofty ambitions.  He soon realises he must challenge history itself and face his personal insecurities if he is going to get the power to make the social change he dreams of.