Michelle Obama Inspires the Southbank

Michelle Obama in conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche in London. Image taken by Craig Fergus

Michelle Obama’s highly-anticipated talk at the Royal Festival Hall took place on Monday evening (December 3), and was branded ‘outstanding’ by attendees.

The former First Lady stopped by the Southbank Centre to converse with Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in-front of 2700 lucky ticket holders, 300 of which were local schoolchildren.

Topics discussed throughout the evening included growing up as a black woman in Chicago, her husband Barack’s White House campaign, and how to accept yourself. It was in support of her new memoir ‘Becoming‘, which is now the best selling book of 2018.

Esther Godwins, an employment lawyer from London, expressed her gratitude to the venue for organising the appearance. She said, ‘I queued from 5:30AM in hopes of grabbing a seat, and it was absolutely worth it. Michelle Obama embodies inspiration, and has achieved what so many women dream of doing – the impossible’.

Rosemarie Davidson-Gotobed, who works for the Church of England, said that the night left her feeling ‘connected’ to Michelle, as they have ‘faced similar struggles growing up as black women in the same era’.

Also in attendance was the Duchess of Sussex, who met with Mrs. Obama after the event to discuss girls education. Whilst the event was not live-streamed, clips of the ninety minute spectacle can be found online.

Black Cab Protest on London Bridge

Cab protest, as seen from Monument station. Image via mightybarnski/Twitter

‘Cabbies’ in central London have been slammed after wreaking havoc on the roads surrounding London Bridge on Monday night (November 26), as the ongoing war between licensed taxi drivers and Transport for London (TfL) raged on. Drivers are protesting their right to operate on a nearby street.

The first of five wide-scale protests lasted three hours, from 4-7PM, and took place across the entirety of London Bridge, causing huge traffic jams and long delays around the area; this comes from TfL’s proposal of banning any black cabs from entering the bus lanes in Tooley Street, which is situated near the Shard.

Ben Plowden, the director of strategy and network development for TfL, said in a statement to the London Evening Standard newspaper that the reasoning behind their pledge is that they want to improve conditions for the people ‘walking and cycling around the area’.

Five consecutive days of non-stop traffic jams on London Bridge is ‘extremely annoying’ for those who commute via the bridge, like sales assistant Megan Wingfield, who lives near Borough Station and uses the number 48 bus to get to her workplace in Liverpool Street. She said that it she can ‘understand the cab drivers frustration’ at feeling like their voices aren’t being heard, but it is ‘extremely childish that they aren’t considering the impact their daily protests are having on London’s emergency services’.

A final decision on Tooley Street’s taxi-ban is expected to be made in January. In the meantime, local bus routes will continue to avoid London Bridge during rush-hour until Friday (November 30), when the protests are expected to end. More information about this and travel updates can be found here.


BFI IMAX’s Potential Closure – Reaction

Locals and film students alike were left seething on Wednesday morning (November 21) after it was revealed that Waterloo’s beloved BFI IMAX cinema is being considered for demolition… in order for another skyscraper to be built in its place on London’s Southbank.

Discussions took place on the afternoon at the Waterloo Action Centre, where the Waterloo Community Development Group, with Lambeth Council, updated their planning policy regarding eight suitable areas that skyscrapers can be built upon. According to Lambeth news blog SE1, areas that are considered ‘worthy’ for tall buildings to take their place include the IMAX, Becket House on Lambeth Palace Road and Elizabeth House.

A decision like this could make or break the livelihood of the BFI IMAX and its employees, which has stood proudly opposite Waterloo Station since it opened in May 1999.

Lambeth Council’s idea wouldn’t just affect the local community; film student at London Metropolitan University, Aidan Matthew, said that if the film institute was replaced with ‘yet another skyscraper’ in the borough, it would be like taking ‘one more thing’ from the creative youth of London.

Speaking to cinema-goers as they left the complex, many weren’t even aware that council bosses were contemplating closing down Britain’s largest cinema screen. Sharon Watson, who had just seen the new ‘Fantastic Beasts’ film at the IMAX, raged, ‘why are they shutting down one of London’s best cinemas?’. ‘The more interesting places they continue closing in favour of flashy money-making offices, the less exciting central London is going to get’.

Whilst no plans are set in stone and the council aren’t likely to confirm their proposal for several months, the BFI IMAX is open for movie geeks to enjoy the best new films on the (very) big screen seven days a week – subject to showtimes.

Southbank Visitors Flock to Festive Market

Overview of Southbank’s Winter Market from the steps of Embankment Bridge. Image taken by Craig Fergus

The opening of the Southbank’s Winter Market on Friday (November 9) proved to be a tremendous success, with hundreds gathering to celebrate the upcoming festive season along the River Thames.

Lined along the Southbank are dozens of stalls selling a range of goods, including vintage scarves and hand-crafted crockery; the market itself is a stone’s throw away from the Christmas Festival, which is sponsored by Swedish Cider company Rekorderlig and is home to the famous London Starflyer swing ride.

Sharon Donovan, who is visiting the capital with her husband Mark from Winchester, confesses that she feels London is the sole place in the country where Christmas is ‘done properly’. She said that being in the city during winter is like ‘living inside a romantic-comedy film’, and the way London goes over-the-top with street lights and decorations gives her a ‘true sense of Christmas’.

The Southbank Winter Market, just left of the Southbank Centre’s ‘Royal Festival Hall’, is open until January 6 2019 – entry to both the Christmas Festival and walk-through Winter Market is free, but visitors may be subject to bag searches prior to entry.

FLOTUS in Southwark – Mrs. Obama Set For Southbank Exclusive

Mrs. Obama speaking to children in Hawaii from the White House as part of NORAD’s annual Track Santa campaign on Dec. 24 2013. Image taken by Pete Souza

This afternoon it was announced that the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, will be appearing for a UK-exclusive, one night only at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Mrs. Obama will be discussing her upcoming autobiography ‘Becoming’ (due for release November 13) with Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, best known for her book length essay ‘We Should All Be Feminists’.

On the evening of December 3, Mrs. Obama will be detailing intimate stories from her incredible life – including raising two daughters in the White House and First Lady duties – to a live audience of over 2500 people on London’s Southbank; it is already being described on social media as ‘London’s Event of the Year’!

If you are a member of the Southbank Centre, two tickets will be available to purchase from the venue’s website at 10AM on Wednesday November 7. If you are not a member, general sale will commence at the same time the following day (November 8). Ticket prices range from £30-125, and all tickets come with a copy of ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama.

A-List Align to Make Southbank Shine

Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone being interviewed by press at the UK premiere of ‘The Favourite’

The stars were out in their finest on Thursday evening to celebrate one of the last premieres of the sixty-second BFI London Film Festival. Hollywood royalty such as Academy Award winning actresses Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were in attendance, gracing the red carpet to promote their upcoming period drama ‘The Favourite’, which will be released on New Year’s Day.

Georgia Weaver, a film student born and raised in London, couldn’t be happier that such exciting events are happening on her doorstep. She said that the ‘beauty of the film festival is that it brings worldwide attention to a wide range of movies that wouldn’t get as much coverage if released generally’. Weaver also mentioned how festivals like BFI’s can ‘introduce cinema-goers to new genres they had never explored previously, as tickets are so cheap’.

Sponsored as an American Express Gala, ‘The Favourites’ UK premiere took place at the BFI Southbank – however, with three days still left to the final showings, there are several different venues where you can catch a glimpse of the stars and see their unreleased films. Highlights for this forthcoming weekend include Melissa McCarthy’s thriller ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ and Amandla Stenberg’s black-lives-matter-focused ‘The Hate U Give’; both of these are premiering at Cineworld’s Leicester Square over the weekend, with further screenings taking place at BFI Southbank and Embankment Garden Cinema.

For more information about films and special presentations, visit https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/Online/default.asp

We Must Remember – and Why We Can’t Forget

Side view of ‘Poppies: Weeping Window’ outside the main entrance of Imperial War Museum in Southwark

On Wednesday (October 12), British Transport Police revealed their officers have been barred from putting symbolic poppy flowers on their vehicles in honour of this forthcoming Remembrance Day – this is a decision that has left both locals and visitors of Lambeth’s Imperial War Museum less than impressed.

Due to 2018 being the centenary year of World War One’s demise, many feel that respecting our country’s history has never been more important. Harry Roberts, 48, of Southwark, a visitor at Imperial War Museum, condemned British Transport Polices decision, stating that the idea is ‘disgraceful’ – he mentioned his dislike of ‘political correctness’, and made the bold statement that ‘us Brits need to remember why we’re free to do as we please today’.

Imperial War Museums newly-built cascade opened on October 4th to vast admiration from its guests; it is made up of hundreds of ceramic poppies used in the iconic 2014 ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ display at the Tower of London. The exhibition will run until November 18 – one week after Remembrance Day.

Imperial War Museum is open from 10AM-6PM seven days a week.

A Silver Screen Scene

BFI IMAX’s Hollywood Prop Auction; Han Solo’s ‘Empire Strikes Back’ jacket, expected to be sold for approximately one million pounds. Image taken by Craig Fergus

A free exhibition at Waterloo’s BFI IMAX reached its climax this evening in the form of a large-scale auction. Many tourists and Londoners attended the Entertainment Memorabilia Auction display over the two weeks that select items of film memorabilia were on show – these include the iconic hover-board from the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise, and a jacket worn by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’.

The BFI IMAX has played host to the popular auction for the last consecutive five years, where six hundred costumes and props from Hollywood films are sold to buyers across the globe. However, only the most poignant garments are on display to the general public.

Aretha, a student living in the city, was caught admiring the hand-signed Harry Potter book, and another visitor, named Steve, told me was attending the auction in hopes of placing the final bid on one of the original Star Wars film prints. At the time of writing, a life-size statue of Johnny Depp’s ‘Edward Scissorhands’ had just been sold for £65,000.

Although the showcase was appreciated by visitors, the exhibition was lacking was publicity; most attendees were from central London, because it wasn’t promoted on social media. Furthermore, it was still popular – the exhibition ran everyday from 10AM-9:30PM.