By Jennifer Brogan

"Portobello Road is like my office", Don Letts declares. "I can walk down here and get a job 'cause I'm always bumping into people I know, being approached by others I don't. Lucky really, 'cause I applied for an Electric House membership and I'm on a bloody waiting list!”
If there's one person that embodies the Portobello Film Festival, then Don Letts is it. His career is an incredible list of independently executed projects with constant references to Inner West London. In 2003, he won a Grammy for "Westway To The World: The Story Of The Clash". At the mention of Joe Strummer, Clash man and another Notting Dale messiah, who died last year, Don's face visibly saddens.
"People like Joe Strummer are few and far between. I would put him in a category with Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley and John Lennon.     

How inspired can you be by Gareth Gates or Will Young? Young people are robbed of inspiration. Fame should be a by-product of talent, not an end in of itself.  Warhol's fifteen minutes? Too bloody long! Most of these people can't justify three and a half, let alone fifteen minutes.”
Born in Brixton to Jamaican parents, Don grew up going to see the likes of Isaac Hayes and Marvin Gaye, "I'm sitting there with my afro thinking: what about me?" Observing wasn't enough for him, and wanting to participate was a feeling that exploded around him, as punk. "Punk wasn't just about creating a fan base, it said: you can have a go too".
So he played reggae and dub records in between sets by

bands like The Clash at punk venue The Roxy (compiled on the CD 'Dread Meets The Punk Rockers Uptown'). He also began filming, starting a career spanning the music and film world. Always there to break new boundaries, he pioneered whatever new technology presented itself, from early sampling with Big Audio Dynamite, the post-punk band formed by him and Mick Jones of the Clash, to using Super-8, digital video, 16 or 35mm in his visual work. His video for Musical Youth's 'Pass The Dutchie' was the first all black video on what was a notoriously racist MTV in 1981. This really is something to be proud of.

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