Screening followed by a Q&A with director Alan Miles, plus a live performance from Jail Guitar Doors graduates - Bermondsey boy Jonny Neesom and Leon Walker.
Breaking Rocks is an inspiring documentary telling the story of Jail Guitar Doors, the initiative set up by Billy Bragg to provide instruments to those using music as a means of achieving the rehabilitation of prison inmates. It features performances by graduates of Jail Guitar Doors (former inmates), as well as from many of the artists who have supported the programme including Mick Jones (The Clash), Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters), Sam Duckworth (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly), and Billy Bragg himself.
Billy Bragg founded the independent initiative as a way of marking the fifth anniversary of Joe Strummer's death in 2007. That year, documentary filmmaker and former fighter Alan Miles received a phone call from Bragg with a remarkable proposition - he wanted Miles to shoot footage of a visit Billy was making to Guys Marsh prison in Dorset. The songwriter and man once dubbed a 'one-man Clash' was delivering the gift of some acoustic guitars to a prison worker called Malcolm Dudley, so inmates in his music class could practice the instrument between lessons. The visit marked the beginning of Bragg's Jail Guitar Doors campaign, the extraordinary story of which is told in Miles' gritty and uplifting new film.
The edgy subject matter of Breaking Rocks will come as no surprise to admirers of Alan Miles' work - nor will the film's emphasis on the redemptive power of music, with its apparent ability to heal social, political and spiritual rifts. Miles' last film, 2005's Who Shot The Sheriff?, focused on the story of the late '70s Rock Against Racism movement and its legacy today in the Love Music, Hate Racism campaign. His cinematic debut, The Last Night London Burned, made three years earlier, documented the poignant events of 9 November 2002, when The Clash's estranged songwriters Joe Strummer and Mick Jones shared a stage together for the first time in 19 years at a benefit gig in west London for striking fire-fighters.
As the Jail Guitar Doors initiative - the campaign takes its name from the b-side of the Clash's 1978 single Clash City Rockers - gathered momentum throughout 2007 and 2008, Alan Miles was there with his camera to capture the drama. He was privileged, he says, to film interviews with The Clash's Mick Jones and Topper Headon, and, to complete the set, once arrived in a fire engine outside the home of The Clash's bassist Paul Simonon to secure his signature on a prison-bound acoustic guitar.
Since its inception, Jail Guitar Doors has donated instruments to more than 20 prisons.