THE BRADFORD FESTIVAL MELA (1998) film no: 1300
This is a film of the multi-cultural Bradford Mela, the largest South Asian festival outside the sub-continent, as it is experienced by three of its participants.
The film begins on a pond in a park in Bradford with a commentary explaining that this is the 11th Mela celebrating diversity in Bradford. The film focuses on three participants of the Mela. The first is Saika, an 8 year old Asian girl who is shown working in a classroom. Next is Mavis, a retired nurse who is working at the Cathedral Centre as a volunteer doing woodwork and other creative activities. Then there is Paul, the Production Co-ordinator of the Festival. He explains his role and how this year the Festival from Lister Park to Peel Park.
Saika is practising the dances she is going to perform. Mavis explains that she hasn’t been to the Mela before, but she is looking forward to it. Paul expects he will be very busy with a new team as well as with a new venue.
Saika arrives at the park along with the other dancers. Paul and Mavis sit on the grass taking it all in. The children perform their dance on a stage while Mavis and other audience members watch. After the dance Saika says how much she enjoyed it. Paul tries to locate the carpet for the main stage.
Saika goes for a wander, letting her balloons go floating off into the air, and Mavis looks around the stalls. Saika gets a ticket to try to win a prize, and as luck would have it, she wins a stuffed bumble bee. Other performances include a woman who performs an Asian dance and another woman singing. Additionally, there are also many other kinds of dances performed from across the world.
Meanwhile Paul goes around the Festival making sure everything is alright, and Saika tries on a witch’s hat. Mavis comments on the diverse crowd and how everyone at the Festival is mixing together and enjoying the festivities.
The film shows some of the attractions including face painting, sculpting, pottery and a Spanish guitar player. Paul arranges for someone to help to try to relocate a sink.
Saika has a look around the fair rides and decides to go on the dodgems with the cameraman. Stalls are selling a variety of food, especially Asian food, such as masala dosa. Mavis tries an onion bhaji, and in the meantime, Paul has to sort out a changing space for dancers. Both Saika and Mavis win prizes on the stalls, and people sit watching Cajun-type music being performed on one of the stages.
Paul explains his work during the day emphasizing the team spirit that had pulled them through the day. Saika enjoyed her dancing best, but not the burnt pakoras. A large crowd is gathered in front of the main stage, and each of the three participants are interviewed summer up their personal experience of the Mela.
With thanks to Saika, Mavis and Paul
Thanks also to:
Whitley First School
The Cathedral Centre
“Tree of Life” Choreographed by Balbir Singh
Camera: Chris Watson
Sound: Debbie Maturi
Production Assistant Sarah Collier
Narrated by Sally Womersley
The Bradford Festival Mela 1998 is part of “The A4E Contemporary Video Collection”