Walter Rodney - 'What They Don't Want You to Know'

UK 2022, 65 mins
Directors: Daniyal Harris-Vajda, Arlen Harris

We are really pleased to announce that joining the discussion will be Dr Patricia Rodney (CEO of The Walter Rodney Foundation, academic and author), Gina Nadira Miller (activist politician and businesswoman), Lavinya Stennett (founder of Black Curriculum), Arlen Harris and Daniyal Harris-Vajda (directors). The discussion will be chaired by David Dabydeen (broadcaster, novelist, poet and academic, UNESCO Exec Board).

This documentary explores the life of historian and civil rights campaigner Dr Walter Rodney. Filmed in Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica, Tanzania, the US and the UK, featuring revelatory interviews, it examines the life of a man who sought unity in the face of division and whose ideals lie at the heart of global struggles today. Walter Rodney was killed in 1980 in Guyana, South America by the CIA and MI5-supported autocratic government of Forbes Burnham. Forty-one years after his death, the Guyanese government has finally acknowledged the state’s role in his assassination.

Supported by The Walter Rodney Foundation and the Ameena Gafoor Institute.

About the panel

Arlen Harris (Producer / Director) is an award-winning programme maker with over 30 years’ experience in print, TV and radio working mainly for British television for World in Action, Panorama and Dispatches. He has also produced programmes for National Geographic and Discovery. He has a passion for revealing the forgotten contributions of people of colour to our shared history. He originated the groundbreaking four-part series, Britain’s Slave Trade, for Channel 4. He has made a film on Guinness the beer and the family. He has filmed with pirates in the South China seas, in Beirut and in Sri Lanka during the civil war. Arlen interviewed Fela Kuti, the king of Afro-Jazz and was probably the last foreign journalist to talk to Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale before the Indian Army attacked the militants in the Golden Temple.

Daniyal Harris-Vajda (Shooting Director / Editor): Ever since childhood Daniyal has wanted to tell stories through images, whether fact or fiction, to examine ideas and provoke reflection. Aged 14 he presented an award-winning BBC Radio Documentary on the non-whites who fought at the battle of Trafalgar. He started his film and TV career at MTV. In the last two years working as an Assistant Producer, Cameraman and Editor at Noah Media Group, documentaries he worked on have been shown on ITV, Netflix, France’s Canal Plus and had a cinematic release Arsene Wenger: Invincible. South of the River, about why South London is producing so much football talent in the face of 12 years of austerity, has been nominated for best TV series at the Broadcast Sports Awards 2022. He has shot, edited and directed for broadcast, online content, drama and factual across the globe and is particularly interested in telling stories that help create positive change.

Gina Miller is a businesswoman, activist and Co-Founder of SCM Direct. Since 2010 Gina has been spearheading the True and Fair Campaign, calling out rip-off behaviour in the UK financial services sector, calling for the overhaul of the FCA, and increasing governance and consumer protection within the financial services sector. Her work has included drafting text included in three EU Directives (Article 24 of MiFID II, PRIPS and The Shareholder Directive) that improved the outcomes for investors across the EU. Gina became a household name in 2017 after taking the UK Government to the Supreme Court over triggering Article 50, and again in 2019 over the illegal prorogation of Parliament. She won both cases in the Supreme Court securing the most historic constitutional victories for hundreds of years. In 2018, she published Rise: Life Lessons in Speaking Out, Standing Tall & Leading the Way and most recently, in February 2022, Gina launched The True & Fair Party, focused on cleaning up politics, modernising our democracy and fighting corruption.

Dr Patricia Rodney is an accomplished public health professional, with a career spanning the disciplines of health, adult education and literacy, social work and women, gender and development. She has lived and/or worked in England, Barbados, Guyana, Canada, Grenada, Dominica, Tanzania and the USA. During her academic tenure (1995-2010) at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, USA she held the following positions – MPH Program Director, Professor, Department of Community Health & Preventive Medicine (CHPM), and Assistant Dean for Public Health Education. Dr Rodney is an Adjunct Professor, Department of CHPM, Morehouse School of Medicine.
Dr Rodney is the author of The Caribbean State, Health Care and Women: An Analysis of Barbados and Grenada 1979-1983 (Africa World Press,1998) and has published several peer reviewed academic articles. Dr Rodney is the CEO of Partners in Health, Education And Development (PHEAD), an international development consultancy. Her work has taken her to Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho, and South Africa.
Additionally, Dr Rodney is the CEO of The Walter Rodney Foundation (WRF) – – established by the Rodney Family in 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr Rodney is the mother of Shaka Rodney, Entrepreneur, Kanini Rodney Phillips, MD/MPH, Physician and Asha T Rodney, JD, Attorney at Law. She is the grandmother of Asia Rodney Collins, Kai Walter Rodney Collins, Skye Rodney Phillips and Appeadua Krow Rodney.

Lavinya Stennett is the founder and CEO of The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise set up to change the way Black history is taught in schools.

David Dabydeen (Host) was born in Guyana. He read English at Cambridge, and between 1984 and 2019 he taught at the University of Warwick, with one spell at Director of the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies. He was elected unto the Executive Board of UNESCO in 1993, and served as Guyana’s Ambassador to UNESCO from 1997 to 2010, in an honorary capacity. From 2010 to 2015 he was Guyana’s Ambassador to China. He is currently Director of the Ameena Gafoor Institute for the Study of Indentureship and its Legacies, which shelters under the Pluto Educational Trust. He has published seven novels, two collections of poetry and academic books on the literature and culture of the Caribbean and Black Britain. His new novel, Sweet Li Jie, set in China and Guyana will be published in 2023.

Directors: Daniyal Harris-Vajda, Arlen Harris
UK 2022
65 mins

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
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