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04 January 2023

'The Problem with Black Pete' student film premieres

Liberal Arts student, Ruben Diego Cabral, premiered his film all about the controversial Dutch figure of Zwarte Piet, known in English as 'Black Pete'.

Black Pete Liberal Arts1

Students and staff attended the premiere of 'The Problem with Black Pete' - a film produced by the nonprofit organisation Ghetto Film School - at King's last month.

The film tells the story of the yearly blackface tradition of Zwarte Piet (or Black Pete in English) in the Netherlands through the eyes of Black-Dutch podcaster, Michaela Amafo.

The controversial figure has been contested in the Netherlands by campaigners in recent years and Liberal Arts student - Ruben Diego Cabral - describes why he wanted to work on a film which drew attention to this fixture of Dutch Christmas celebrations.

I felt it was important to lend my perspective and voice as a black man. I didn't go into the project thinking I'd solve racism and end blackface, but I instead went in with the hope of changing at least one mind. The positive reception the film's been receiving is amazing but this most important thing to me was seeing how people either learnt about Black Pete, or how Netherlands natives voicing their support for the film or their minds changing towards the festival. Even working on the film, I became more understanding of those who want to uphold the tradition which was definitely a humbling experience. Our goal was to start a conversation and we succeeded.

Ruben Diego Cabral, Liberal Arts student

A panel Q&A followed the event with Writer & Director, Rachel Akinola, Shomi Owodunni, Production Designer, Willem Flowerday - Editor, Anisa Adan.- Producer alongside Ruben as Director of Photography.

You can watch the full film below on YouTube.

(L to R) Host; Students - Anisa Adan, Producer; Shomi Owodunni, Production Designer; Rachel Akinola, Writer and Director; Ruben Diego Cabral, Director of Photography; Willem Flowerday, Editor and Script Supervisor