Image by IndieWire.
Embracing diversity isn’t as vague as it sounds. There are many unique, tangible opportunities to celebrate and experience diversity – especially in the arts! The film industry is a leading example of creatives’ ability to impact the world around them; writers, directors, actors, and creative teams unite to tell a story, ask big questions, observe, critique, and examine issues that matter most to them. London’s BFI Film Festival features such stories. BFI is acclaimed for its diversity – hundreds of films represent approximately 50 countries from around the world. It promotes and empowers women and people of colour in the creative industry on an international scale.
See it for yourself! There are only three evenings left in the BFI Festival – and we want you to make the most of it. With hundreds of feature films over only 12 days, narrowing down your favourites can be a strenuous process. How are you supposed to choose? Don’t worry, we did it for you. These five films celebrate black talent on and off-screen.
SATURDAY @ 18:00, HAYMARKET CINEMA
The film’s historical account underwent a seven-month approval period (by the Nigerian military) before filming began. Inspired by true events, 76 uncovers the assassination of Nigerian military General Murtala Mohammed from a unique perspective – young lovers under the strain of ethnic differences cope with the aftermath of a botch coup attempt. Scored with African music and American soul classics and shot on gorgeous 35mm.
SATURDAY @ 17:30 / SUNDAY @ 12:00, EMBANKMENT GARDEN CINEMA
What do Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” (411 B.C.) and gun violence have in common? Spike Lee. Set in the south side of Chicago, Lee reimagines Greek roots in a modern hip-hop musical that rips up inane gang violence and reframes it for the audience. Why is Chicago’s gun-related death toll higher than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined? When children are caught in crosshairs, what will you do?
SATURDAY @ 12:30, VUE WEST END CINEMA
Daughters of the Dust
Daughters of the Dust first premiered at Sundance in 1991. It was the first feature film directed by a black woman to receive a national release. Director Julie Dash tells the story of three generations of Gullah women (descendants of West African slaves) as they migrate from their east-coast island home to the mainland. Narrated by Unborn Child and spoken in Gullah creole, Dash’s re-released work remains as relevant as it was in 1991.
SATURDAY @ 20:45, VUE WEST END CINEMA / SUNDAY @ 21:00, CLAPHAM PICTUREHOUSE
A world premiere for British-Nigerian director Joseph A. Adesunloye, White Colour Black follows one man’s jarring exploration of personal identity after traveling from London to Senegal for an unexpected funeral. Adesunloye redefines “home,” whether cityscape or village, and builds up black identity outside of cinematic stereotypes. This film does not just tell of a journey—it is one.
SATURDAY @ 13:15, BFI SOUTHBANK
More a visual essay than a “movie,” Those Who Jump captures the endurance and adversity of the migrant experience by tossing a camera directly into it. Rather than bombard a refugee camp with a full film set and crew, directors Siebert and Wagner gave Abou Bakar Sidibé a camera. Sidibé, a Malian emigrant, had lived in Mount Gurugu for over a year when he began to tell his story with a lens. He, and other residents, regularly attempt to scale the wall dividing Gurugu (Morocco) from Melilla (Spain). Those Who Jump is an intimate autobiographical view of three-dimensional people living in one-dimensional circumstances, leaving viewers no choice but to question their own culpability and perspective.
Want to get involved? Check out this fabulous interactive map! Search for screenings by location, day, time, or film (we can’t wait to watch Paris is Burning!). #BFIBlackStar kicks off Monday, October 17.
If your weekend is already jam-packed, there’s still time to get involved! BFI is also launching BLACK STAR, a celebration of the versatility and power of black actors, from October through December. BLACK STAR is the brainchild of Into Film, the BFI Film Audience Network, and Independent Cinema Office. Together, they enable film screenings and events around the UK, promoting a wide range of content to as many people as possible! ICO is especially known for promoting diversity in content, audiences, and location, and developing culturally rich experiences. BFI’S BLACK STAR project not only addresses underrepresentation in film, but throws a spotlight on the actors (and films) that work to overcome it.