MAS: Our Film About Mas Band Culture at Notting Hill Carnival
"Carnival is just warmth. You have everyone from different cultures coming. I’m Jamaican and it’s just something we love to do… dance.”
In 2020, for the first time in its existence, Notting Hill Carnival cancelled its annual celebrations, due to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
Trippin’s short documentary “MAS”, tells the history and heritage of Mas Band Culture at Notting Hill Carnival. The film is centred around re-telling the stories around the origins of carnival. These stories include those which have been left untold or lost in the ever-growing colourful culture of carnival, as well as stories which have prominent connections to the ongoing social justice against racist and anti-immigration prejudice.
The documentary also features an exclusive poem written and spoken by Kai Isaiah Jamal, that is meant to accentuate and compliment the expressive and artistic nature of Mas bands and their history with Carnival.
The history and cultural significance of Mas bands are deep rooted in Black expression, Black love and Black music. The film aims to pay homage to the culture’s rich history and spotlights the nuanced narratives of each Mas band and the cultural, social and political importance this yearly event has to them as well as the wider community of London.
Many origins of Mas bands are born out of activism and to create safe spaces for the Black community. We explore the founding stories of Mangrove Mas & Steel, who were born out of the Mangrove Community and are well-known for the Mangrove 9 trial, which uncovered the first proof of institutionalised racism within the London Met. Throughout the film, we also explore the intricacies of each element of a Mas band, for example by looking at the micro-themes around costumes and how this physical representation of the band helps keep their legacy alive.
We shot with an amazing crew, directed by Daniel Amoakoh. The footage is shot across multiple formats and features archive footage from across the years at carnival.