A 53-year-gap means nothing to directors of two films about Bethnal Green community centre

Three young directors, who have made a film about a 121-year-old Bethnal Green community centre, met the man who had the same idea in 1957 on November 8.

Members of St Hilda’s East Community Centre in Club Row premiered their own documentary about life there and on the surrounding Boundary Estate at the Rich Mix cinema in Bethnal Green Road.

Three of the directors behind “St Hilda’s East: the Story of a Community”, Imran Miah, 17, Imran Ahmed, 16 and Abu Jaker, 16, also spoke with John Hall, 77, who made the earlier film which inspired them.

Mr Jaker, who lives in the Boundary Estate, said: “We liked the old film. We wanted to give it a bit of a youth touch though.”

John, then a BBC editor, was commissioned to make a documentary about the centre which was established in 1889 as a ‘social mission’ by Cheltenham Ladies College.

After moving to America, he forgot about the project until he found his original 16mm film three years ago which he had transferred to DVD.

That is now being used to raise funds for St Hilda’s, which offers a cr�che, women’s groups and housing and benefits advice among other services.

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John, 77, said: “Everyone at the centre got very excited about it and it inspired them to make a new film.”

Students at the Cheltenham College and an educational charity called Digital Works helped the teenagers to make the 30-minute film, part of a Community Memories project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Footage from John’s film was also used.

Football agent and BBC Radio Essex DJ Eric Hall enjoyed the new film after growing up in Old Nichol Street and visiting the centre since he was eight years old.

His uncle, Irving Hiller, a record producer, first took Eric to a party there which he had organised, also bringing along 1950s pop singer Dickie Valentine.

Eric, an agent to former football managers Terry Venables and Dennis Wise, said: “Some of my greatest memories of growing up were at St Hilda’s.”

Mr Hiller, 70, said: “The new film was wonderful.”

For further information, visit sthildaseastmemories.wordpress.com.

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