On 12 November, the Bernie Grant Arts Centre celebrates the work and legacy of rukus! Federation with an evening of cinema and a Q&A with rukus! co-founders Topher Campbell and Ajamu X. The evening includes two films by Campbell and an excerpt from Sharing Tongues, a signature rukus! video project.
In This Our Lives: The Reunion, Topher Campbell’s 2009 documentary, looks back at a 1987 conference of black gay men and interviews surviving participants, prompting them to discuss what has changed and what hasn’t for queer men of colour in the intervening years. A second short documentary by Campbell, The Homecoming, examines the legacy of Ajamu X’s filmmaking and erotic photography.
The evening concludes with a Q&A featuring both artists, led by curator and activist Zinzi Minott and accompanied by some of the music which inspired Topher and Ajamu such as Sylvester, 10 City, Martha Walsh, and Robert Allman. Also included will be a multimedia display of archival footage and press materials related to this organisation’s signature brand of artistically driven queer activism.
Ajamu is an internationally acclaimed fine art and commercial photographer. His work has been shown in work in galleries, museums and alternative places around the world including New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Senegal.
In addition to this, he has been involved with Black and minority ethnic and LGBT communities for over 20 years working nationally and internationally. The work has spanned across individuals and groups, various communities and different sectors including a range of stakeholders such as charities, individuals, academics, artists, and activists.
Topher Campbell is a filmmaker, theatre director and writer. He has directed plays at numerous theatres across the country including West Yorkshire Playhouse, Young Vic, London, Derby Playhouse, Contact Theatre, Manchester, Talawa Theatre, London and Leicester Haymarket. His films The Homecoming and Mulatto Song have been screened worldwide. As producer for BBC Radio Drama he established the Norman Beaton Fellowship. For television he directed Doctors 2002-2005 and East Enders 2007.
For radio he produced the documentary Talking Huck Finn featuring Bonnie Greer and the innovative Facing Leicester Square featuring Lennie James.
As a writer, Topher has written articles for Sable, AXM Magazine and Gay Times on black gay contemporary life and history. He has also been featured in the Guardian, The Stage, Broadcast, Gay Times and QX Magazine As a commentator, he has appeared on BBC News and Gay to Z for Channel 4. Topher is a recipient of the 2005 Jerwood Directors Award.
Between 2005 and 2008 he was programmer for the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and is a founder member of rukus! Alongside Ajamu X, Topher is currently the artistic director of THE RED ROOM theatre and film company.