Category Archives: Film

65th BFI London Film Festival 2021 – Shorts

The 65th BFI London Film Festival builds on the online only festival of 2020’s ‘year of the pandemic’ and continues to include the newer streams of augmented reality, and AI-driven Virtual Reality content in LFF Expanded, plus TV Series’ reflecting on the changes and developments in the way we consume content. PLUS, loads of Short Films to see for Free.

The festival is on from 6 to 17 October 2021, with films available in cinemas with screenings around the UK, available virtually, and with access to free events and films.

Also see our selection of FEATURE FILMS.


Here are our 2021 selection of SHORT FILMS: Small but perfectly formed.

6-17 Oct: Watch for free on BFI Player


Find Me Here | Thu 7

Local community lies at the heart of this programme. From a late-night Ugandan town, New Orleans hair salon and musically-oriented Brazilian delivery culture to the bricks and mortar of British housing and the cruel nature of unbridled capitalism, we witness everyday lives.

Nsenene: Late at night in the Ugandan town of Masaka, grasshoppers descend, alien-like, into the community, in this lyrical and visually stunning documentary.

Director-Producer: Michelle Coomber, Countries: Uganda-UK

BABYBANGZ: In a New Orleans’ natural hair salon where self-care and communal reflection intertwine, Anastasia Ebel hosts dynamic and enjoyable discussions. A stylish window into the heart of the bayou.

Director-Producer: Juliana Kasumu. Countries: USA-UK


Short Film Award Nominee

Fantasma Neon: (See LFF Awards) An all-singing, all-dancing musical fantasy set in the busy urban world of Brazil’s takeaway food delivery bike community.

Director-Screenwriter: Leonardo Martinelli. Producers: Ayssa Yamaguti Norek, Rafael Teixeira, Leonardo Martinelli. Country: Brazil


It’s Not That Easy | Fri 8

Life isn’t always a well-choreographed montage and the stumbles are often why we reflect on it. It’s how personalities are made and that makes for the richest of dramas.

Kabibi: A schoolgirl in the DRC is resembling the woman she wants to become, in a tale that explores the solace we find in the clothes we wear and the shoes we walk in.

Director-Screenwriter: Elaisha Stokes. Producer: Horeb Bulambo Shindano. Countries: DR Congo-USA-Canada

The Right Words (Haut les coeurs): If you’re looking for some sweet romance you’ve come to the right place, as we follow 13-year-old Mahdi and his undeclared love for Jada while on the school bus run.

Director-Screenwriter: Adrian Moyse Dullin. Producer: Lucas Tothe. Country: France

Sunshine City: Three best friends are racing across town to get to a rap gig where they’re meant to perform, but numerous obstacles delay their journey.

Director: Evan LaMagna. Producers: Dylon Peven, Evan LaMagna, Dal LaMagna, Aaron Jones. Screenwriters: Evan LaMagna, Dylon Peven. Country: USA


Weird and Wonderful World | Fri 8

Filmmakers showcase the strange in this selection that veers between the weirdness of folk horror to a wonderful celebration of Afro-futurism.

Earthbound (Jordbundna): At the end of the world, Max is desperate to be with the woman he loves. But his destiny lies less in some dystopian space odyssey than an Afrofuturist dream.

Director-Screenwriter: Baker Karim. Producers: Olivier Guerpillon, Frida Hallberg. Country: Sweden


For Better or Worse | Sun 10

Marriage as an institution can be suffocating and the works here explore the more negative side to the vows taken between two people, particularly around how individuals can control and bully.

Imuhira (Home): Kanama’s dream-like journey back to her family does not offer the homecoming she hoped for. The initial solace of familiar surroundings and presence of friends is no comfort when she still feels tormented. (This film contains scenes of domestic violence.)

Director-Screenwriter: Myriam Uwiragiye Birara. Producers: Myriam Uwiragiye Birara, Shema Deve, Remy Ry, Moise Ganza. Country: Rwanda


My Identity, No Crisis | Tue 12

From home to the back of a taxi and back again, these stories encompass self-exploration and negotiating the importance of identity, while choosing a path to be proud of.

Play It Safe: Suffocating in the whiteness of drama school, Jonathan realises others’ discomfort is a trivial consequence of momentary cogency.

Director-Screenwriter: Mitch Kalisa. Producer: Chris Toumazou. Country: UK

Nasir: Musician Nasir calls several family members by phone to discuss the decision to transition.

Directors: Jackson Kroopf, Nasir Bailey. Producer: Jackson Kroopf. Country: USA

Egúngún (Masquerade): When Salewa has to return home, she finds herself back in a place where she once had to hide herself. But now she goes in search of her own peace.

Director-Screenwriter: Olive Nwosu. Producer: Alex Polunin. Countries: Nigeria-UK


Your UK or Mine? | Sat 16
This selection of shorts shows how varied and impressive new British filmmaking is, through stories of community, love and personal acceptance.

Short Film Award Nominee

Precious Hair & Beauty: With observant commentary on the changing landscape of London communities, this is a witty and energetic snapshot of an odd day at a Black hair dressers.

Director-Screenwriter: John Ogunmuyiwa. Producers: Sophia Gibber, Tony Longe, Lene Bausager. Country: UK


Short Film Award Nominee

Femme: In a tense late-night journey, Jordan encounters a drug-dealer in a dangerous den populated by a gang of men and stifling with toxic masculinity. (This film contains scenes of drug use and strong violence.)

Directors-Screenwriters: Sam H Freeman, Ng Choon Ping. Producers: Sam Ritzenberg, Hayley Williams, Rienkje Attoh. Country: UK


The Other End: Shona’s boyfriend hasn’t come home. She fears the worst, so ventures out into the sodium-orange glow of London’s streets at night to find him.

Director-Screenwriter: Nia Childs. Producer: Alexandra Da Silva. Country: UK

We’re Too Good for This: Stereotypes are overturned in this story of physical disability, where a group of friends on a council estate find a way to assert their independence using the gifts others see as flaws.

Director-Screenwriter: Missy Malek. Producers: Sam Barnham, Camilla Arnold. Country: UK


Short Film Award Nominee

For Love: In this beautiful drama, a couple battle for a future where they can find a home and freedom that is not determined by where they’re from.

Director-Screenwriter: Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor. Producer: Emily Morgan. Country: UK


LFF FOR FREE

London Calling
A selection of shorts from some of London’s most exciting new voices, weaving bold cinematic narratives in surprising, sometimes playful, but above all honest ways. Funded by BFI NETWORK and delivered by Film London.

London Calling: Speaking Your Truth | Sat 9 | Sat 16 | Sun 17
Stories of people confronting injustice and pain, and finding their voice –

Born Again

A British Nigerian woman tormented by her inability to have children experiences a transformative baptism, leading her on a journey of healing and rebirth.
Writer-Director: Candice Onyeama


London Calling: Hopes and Visions | Sun 10 | Sat 16 | Sun 17
Stories of people – and objects – holding onto hope of something better.

Colby: 22-year-old Colby rebels against feeling stifled by everybody because of her pregnancy. But then she meets a guy at a diner.
Writer-Director: Rashida Seriki

Canvas 5: When gallery director Ruth is accused of using her position to exploit people of colour, she protests her innocence. But her doubt turns to paranoia when anonymous portrait Canvas 5 starts to exert a power of its own.
Writer-Director: Karla Crome


Film4 and Fruit Tree Media present: Foresight | Sat 9 | Sun 10
Five short films that explore alternative realities for Black and Brown people in the UK.

Foresight is a compilation of short films, set in the UK, which imagine the future for Black and Brown characters. They are written, directed and produced by culturally diverse filmmakers who call the UK home. Foresight is an urgent anthology that explores alternate realities through the lens of five Black British directors. This time capsule collection contributes to a perspective and point of view continually missing from our screens – a future where people of colour exist!

They Heard Him Shout Allahu Akbah: Zaid, recently released from prison for an unknown crime, tries to reintegrate into his previous life only to find that the arms of the state extend to controlling what he says and does.
Director: Nadia Latif. Screenwriter: Omar El-Khairy

X US: Two unaccompanied brothers embark on a journey to a new settlement on moon planet Titan. Their interactions reflect the subtle naivety and anxious fear this huge moment means for each of them, amidst an industrial-sized group of migrants.
Director: Akinola Davies. Screenwriters: Akinola Davies, Wale Davies

The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be: By the year 2080, climate change has forced human beings from the Earth, with the last vestiges that remain forced into an isolated nomadic existence. In the desolate landscape, Dez forages for survival until they unearth a morsel of the past that leads them on an unexpected mission.
Director: Adeyemi Michael. Screenwriter: Courttia Newland

Twice As Good: The night before her son Dee Dee’s seventh birthday, Grace receives an unexpected intruder in her kitchen. As she discovers who the intruder is, she must decide how to protect her son while navigating the complexities of Black parenthood in modern Britain.
Director-Screenwriter: Jeremy Ngatho Cole

Digging: Ziba, Ché, Neela and Kofi use their devices to take trips through their memories to settle an argument.
Director: Elliot Barnes-Worrell. Screenwriters: Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Hasti Crowther


NETWORK@LFF Shorts Programme 2 | Sun 10 | Sat 16
NETWORK@LFF is our flagship talent development programme based at the very heart of the BFI London Film Festival, and delivered by BFI NETWORK.

Vacant Bass: This short charts the impact of Black culture and clubbing on British multiculturalism, and the sense of loss as club culture has come under threat in recent times and was then wiped out entirely by the Covid crisis.
Writer-Director: Isaac Tomiczek


AFRO-FUTURES

A visual artist, sound artist, writer and editor come together to create a short Afrofuturist film, layered with their singular talents. Join us as we screen this short film and then host a panel discussion with its creators.

Sun 17

Panellists: Xana, Simisolaoluwa Akande, Nse Asuquo
Host: Ramatoulie Bobb
BFI Film Academy Young Programmer Commission artists: Xana, Simisolaoluwa Akande, Keisha Thompson, Nse Asuquo
BFI Film Academy Young Programmer Curators: Ramatoulie Bobb, Ruby Murphy and Hazel George.


LFF AWARDS

SHORT FILM COMPETITION
The Short Film Award recognises short-form works with a unique cinematic voice and a confident handling of chosen theme and content..

6-17 Oct: Watch on BFI Player for Free

Fantasma Neon: An all-singing, all-dancing musical fantasy set in the busy urban world of Brazil’s takeaway food delivery bike community.

Director-Screenwriter: Leonardo Martinelli. Producers: Ayssa Yamaguti Norek, Rafael Teixeira, Leonardo Martinelli. Country: Brazil

Femme: In a tense late-night journey, Jordan encounters a drug-dealer in a dangerous den populated by a gang of men and stifling with toxic masculinity. (This film contains scenes of drug use and strong violence.)

Directors-Screenwriters: Sam H Freeman, Ng Choon Ping. Producers: Sam Ritzenberg, Hayley Williams, Rienkje Attoh. Country: UK

For Love: In this beautiful drama, a couple battle for a future where they can find a home and freedom that is not determined by where they’re from.

Director-Screenwriter: Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor. Producer: Emily Morgan. Country: UK

Precious Hair & Beauty: With observant commentary on the changing landscape of London communities, this is a witty and energetic snapshot of an odd day at a Black hair dressers.

Director-Screenwriter: John Ogunmuyiwa. Producers: Sophia Gibber, Tony Longe, Lene Bausager. Country: UK


Immersive Art and XR CompetitioN
The Best Immersive Art and XR Award recognises the most innovative work from artists and creators who are boldly exploring the intersection of art, film and extended reality to fully immerse audiences in the moment.

(All part of the EXPANDED Strand: Step into a new dimension of storytelling with Immersive Art and Extended reality.)

6-17 Oct, 11am-9pm. Book a slot at 26 Leake Street, London SE1 7NN.

Container: This immersive film project makes us aware of how closely modern forms of economic enslavement compare with earlier forms that ‘civilised’ society claims to have cast aside.

Lead Artists: Meghna Singh, Simon Wood. Country: South Africa

Noah’s Raft: Acclaimed Nigerian filmmaker Joel Kachi Benson’s VR documentary shows how one person with a vision can transform a whole community by means of education.

Lead Artists: Joel Kachi Benson & Tal Michael Haring. Country: Nigeria.

Virtually There: Leon Oldstrong’s first VR film shines a light on a violent knife crime from multiple perspectives in an attempt to empathise with all parties involved.

Lead Artist: Leon Oldstrong. Production Company: Solaris2 Media. Country: UK


STRANDS

EXPERIMENTA: Films by artists that revolutionise and reshape our vision of cinema.

Screening with: Lago Gatún in te Experimenta Strand (Fri 15)

The I and S of Lives: In Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington DC, the camera follows a lone skater’s graceful moves. His clothes match the colours of the mural he skates on.

Director: Kevin Jerome Everson. Producers: Kevin Jerome Everson, Madeleine Molyneaux

Country: USA

Memorials of Meaning (Short Film Collection)

Mudança: A dreamlike territory of imagery sensations in music, painting, poetry, and dance – inspired by the people of the Bijagó archipelago in Guinea-Bissau – speak of revolution.

Sun 17 (Also watch this short for free on the BFI Player)

Director-Producer-Screenwriter: Welket Bungué

Country: Portugal, Guinea Bissau, Germany

FAMILY: Films for the young… and young at heart.

The Wonderful Story of Aisha, Ali and Flipflopi the Multicoloured Dhow Boat – Short film in Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences

Sun 17


TREASURES: Revived and restored from the world’s archives.

Four short films in From the Caribbean to West Africa: Edric Connor’s Travelogues

Jamaica – Third Test: Connor’s coverage of the first-ever test won by England in the Caribbean, from an overcrowded Sabina Park, features authoritative narration by British-Guyanese commentator Ernest Eytle.

Caribbean Honeymoon No.1: ‘My People!’ Connor returns to his birthplace of Mayaro to celebrate his homeland’s natural beauty and manufacturing, capturing pre-independence Caribbean islands in all their glorious warmth.

Caribbean Honeymoon No.2: Shown at the 1960 Edinburgh international Film Festival, this dazzling travelogue records Guyana’s idyllic flora and the industries that supplied raw materials for British homes.

Bound for Lagos: Commissioned in 1960 to mark Nigeria’s independence, Connor directs and stars in this troubled production about shifting social relations in an emergent West African middle-class.


FAMILY: Films for the young… and young at heart.

Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences (Short Film Collection)

The Wonderful Story of Aisha, Ali and Flipflopi the Multicoloured Dhow Boat: Aisha and Ali must decide what to do about abandoned plastic, in this film from Kenya that deals with a global problem.

Sun 17

Director: Kwame Nyong’o. Producers: Wanzilu Maingi, Dipesh Pabari. Screenwriter: John Sibi-Okumu. Country: Kenya

65th BFI London Film Festival 2021

The 65th BFI London Film Festival builds on the online only festival of 2020’s ‘year of the pandemic’ and continues to include the newer streams of augmented reality, and AI-driven Virtual Reality content in LFF Expanded, plus TV Series’ reflecting on the changes and developments in the way we consume content.

As always, there are loads of films to see, immerse yourself in and live through. Highlights include: Jeymes Samuels, The Harder They Fall, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, and King Richard, based on Richard Williams drive to turn Venus and Serena into tennis superstars.

The festival is on from 6 to 17 October 2021, with films available in cinemas with screenings around the UK, available virtually, and with access to free events and films.

We’ve also picked out some superb SHORT FILMS which you can view for free on the BFI Player.


Here are our 2021 selection of films, LFF Expanded and Awards:

GALAS

OPENING NIGHT GALA

The Harder They Fall: Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) has dedicated his life to hunting down members of the gang led by the vicious Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), who murdered his parents in front of him. Inspired by the real-life stories of African-American cowboys and featuring an all-star cast. London-born musician and filmmaker Jeymes Samuel’s feature debut is an explosive and stylish Western quite unlike any other.

Wed 6 | Thur 7 | Sun 10

Director: Jeymes Samuel. Screenwriter: Jeymes Samuel, Boaz Yakin. Producers: Shawn Carter, James Lassiter, Lawrence Bender, Jeymes Samuel. Cast: Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King, Idris Elba.

Country: USA


CLOSING NIGHT GALA

The Tragedy of Macbeth: Shakespeare’s iconic and much adapted text, written on these shores over 400 years ago, gets a wonderfully fresh and singular reworking in Joel Coen’s first solo outing as a director. Coen dazzlingly adapts this Scottish play for the screen with Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington mesmeric as the couple whose political ambitions proved their fatal downfall.

Sun 17

Director-Screenwriter: Joel Coen. Producers: Joel Coen, Frances McDormand, Robert Graf. Cast: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson.

Country: USA


HEADLINE GALA

King Richard: In the Compton suburbs of the early 1990s, Richard Williams has his sights firmly set on superstardom for his two young daughters, Venus and Serena. Will Smith delivers one of his best performances as the ambitious father of two sporting prodigies in this rousing, hugely enjoyable biopic.

Fri 15 | Sat 16

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green. Producers: Tim White, Trevor White, Will Smith. Screenwriter: Zach Baylin. Cast: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn, Jon Bernthal.

Country: USA


SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades): Jacques Audiard ventures into new territory with a vibrant take on love and Paris, as four characters cross amorous paths in the modern city.

Thur 14 | Fri 15

Director: Jacques Audiard. Producers: Jacques Audiard, Valérie Schermann. Screenwriters: Jacques Audiard, Céline Sciamma, Léa Mysius. Cast: Noémie Merlant, Lucie Zhang, Makita Samba, Jehnny Beth

Country: France


Neptune Frost: The directorial debut of poet-musician Saul Williams and actor-playwright Anisia Uzeyman is an exhilarating anti-capitalist sci-fi musical entirely shot in Rwanda.

Sat 16 | Sun 17

Directors: Saul Williams, Anisia Uzeyman. Producers: Ezra Miller, Dave Guenette, Maria Judice. Cast: Cheryl Isheja, Bertrand ‘Kaya Free’ Ninteretse, Eliane Umuhire.

Countries: USA, Rwanda


LFF AWARDS

OFFICIAL COMPETITION NOMINEE
The Best Film Award recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking.

Lingui, the Sacred Bonds (Lingui, les liens sacrés): Following his international success with A Screaming Man, Daratt and Abouna, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s powerful new drama once again celebrates the heroic individualism of ordinary people.

Mon 11 | Tue 12 | Sun 17

Director-Screenwriter: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. Producer: Florence Stern. Cast: Achouackh Abakar Souleymane, Rihane Khalil Alio, Youssouf Djaoro.

Countries: Chad, France, Germany, Belgium


DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION NOMINEE
The Grierson Award recognises feature-length documentaries with integrity, originality and social or cultural significance.

Faya Dayi: Jessica Beshir’s bewitching film is a fascinating portrait of the city of Harar and the intimate rituals of Ethiopia’s most lucrative produce, khat.

Sat 9 | Sun 10

Director-Producer-Screenwriter: Jessica Beshir

Countries: Ethiopia, USA, Qatar


SHORT FILM COMPETITION
The Short Film Award recognises short-form works with a unique cinematic voice and a confident handling of chosen theme and content..

6-17 Oct: Watch on BFI Player for Free

Fantasma Neon: An all-singing, all-dancing musical fantasy set in the busy urban world of Brazil’s takeaway food delivery bike community.

Director-Screenwriter: Leonardo Martinelli. Producers: Ayssa Yamaguti Norek, Rafael Teixeira, Leonardo Martinelli. Country: Brazil

Femme: In a tense late-night journey, Jordan encounters a drug-dealer in a dangerous den populated by a gang of men and stifling with toxic masculinity. (This film contains scenes of drug use and strong violence.)

Directors-Screenwriters: Sam H Freeman, Ng Choon Ping. Producers: Sam Ritzenberg, Hayley Williams, Rienkje Attoh. Country: UK

For Love: In this beautiful drama, a couple battle for a future where they can find a home and freedom that is not determined by where they’re from.

Director-Screenwriter: Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor. Producer: Emily Morgan. Country: UK

Precious Hair & Beauty: With observant commentary on the changing landscape of London communities, this is a witty and energetic snapshot of an odd day at a Black hair dressers.

Director-Screenwriter: John Ogunmuyiwa. Producers: Sophia Gibber, Tony Longe, Lene Bausager. Country: UK


Immersive Art and XR CompetitioN
The Best Immersive Art and XR Award recognises the most innovative work from artists and creators who are boldly exploring the intersection of art, film and extended reality to fully immerse audiences in the moment.

(All part of the EXPANDED Strand: Step into a new dimension of storytelling with Immersive Art and Extended reality.)

6-17 Oct, 11am-9pm. Book a slot at 26 Leake Street, London SE1 7NN.

Container: This immersive film project makes us aware of how closely modern forms of economic enslavement compare with earlier forms that ‘civilised’ society claims to have cast aside.

Lead Artists: Meghna Singh, Simon Wood. Country: South Africa

Noah’s Raft: Acclaimed Nigerian filmmaker Joel Kachi Benson’s VR documentary shows how one person with a vision can transform a whole community by means of education.

Lead Artists: Joel Kachi Benson & Tal Michael Haring. Country: Nigeria.

Virtually There: Leon Oldstrong’s first VR film shines a light on a violent knife crime from multiple perspectives in an attempt to empathise with all parties involved.

Lead Artist: Leon Oldstrong. Production Company: Solaris2 Media. Country: UK


STRANDS

LOVE: Sweet, passionate, tough – love is a complex and many-splendoured thing.

Bantú Mama: A French-Cameroonian woman running from a drug deal gone wrong in the Dominican Republic finds shelter with three young siblings in this striking, lyrical film.

Sat 9 | Sun 10

Director: Ivan Herrera. Producers: Ivan Herrera, Clarisse Albrecht. Screenwriters: Clarisse Albrecht, Ivan Herrera. Cast: Clarisse Albrecht, Scarlet Reyes, Euris Javiel

Country: Dominican Republic

The Gravedigger’s Wife: With his deceptively simple but heartfelt feature debut, director Khadar Ahmed follows a man as he desperately tries to seek help for his ailing wife.

Fri 15 | Sat 16

Director-Screenwriter: Khadar Ayderus Ahmed. Producers: Misha Jaari, Thanassis Karathanos, Stéphane Parthenay. Cast: Omar Abdi, Yasmin Warsame, Khadar Abdoul-Aziz Ibrahim.

Countries: Finland, France, Germany

When a Farm Goes Aflame: This captivating, intimate and contemplative documentary that takes us from Denmark to Nigeria where is a superb and worthy continuation from his first feature a Portrait of a Lonely Farmer.

Wed 6 | Fri 8

Director: Jide Tom Akinleminu. Producer: Florian Schewe.

Country: Germany


DEBATE: Riveting films that amplify, scrutinise, argue and surprise.

All These Sons: The second collaboration from Academy Award-nominees Bing Liu and Joshua Altman is an urgent document of two community groups in Chicago that empower young Black men.

Tue 12 | Wed 13

Directors: Bing Liu, Joshua Altman. Producers: Zak Piper, Kelsey Carr, Bing Liu, Joshua Altman.

Country: USA

ear for eye: At times furious, joyous and moving, debbie tucker green’s adaptation of her acclaimed play on racial injustice in the UK and USA is nothing short of mesmerising.

Sat 16 | Sun 17

Director-Screenwriter: debbie tucker green. Producer: Fiona Lamptey. Cast: Lashana Lynch, Carmen Munroe, Tosin Cole

Country: UK

The Neutral Ground: In this bitingly satirical and deeply personal documentary, CJ Hunt traces the troubled history of Confederate monuments in America.

Thu 14 | Fri 15

Director: CJ Hunt. Producer: Darcy McKinnon. Screenwriters: CJ Hunt, Jane Geisler, James Hamilton

Country: USA


LAUGH: From mega LOLZ through romcom to dry and understated – humour in all its forms.

Queen of Glory: In Nana Mensah’s self-assured and charming comedy, a Ghanaian-American woman’s life is thrown into disarray when she inherits her mother’s Christian bookshop.

Sat 9 | Sun 10

Director-Screenwriter: Nana Mensah. Cast: Nana Mensah, Meeko Gattuso, Oberon K A Adjepong.

Country: USA


DARE: In-your-face and arresting – stories that take you out of your comfort zone.

La Mif: A raw, in-your-face drama that offers a glimpse of life within a residential care home for at-risk teenage girls.

Sun 10 | Mon 11

Director-Producer-Screenwriter: Fred Baillif. Cast: Claudia Grob, Amélie Tonsi, Anaïs Uldry, Amandine Golay, Kassia Da Costa, Joyce Ndayisenga, Charlie Areddy, Sara Tulu.

Country: Switzerland


THRILL: Nerve-shredders that will get your adrenalin pumping and keep you on the edge of your seat.

Boiling Point: An emotionally scarred London chef struggles to keep it together in this formally extraordinary and beautifully acted single-take thriller.

Mon 11 | Tue 12 | Sun 17

Director: Philip Barantini. Producers: Bart Ruspoli, Hester Ruoff. Screenwriters: Philip Barantini, James Cummings. Cast: Stephen Graham, Vinette Robinson, Jason Flemyng.

Country: UK


CULT: From the mind-altering and unclassifiable to fantasy, sci-fi and horror.

Juju Stories: Three Nigerian filmmakers come together for a thrilling portmanteau film that presents an alternative Lagos through the modern interpretation of folk tales.

Fri 15 | Sat 16

Directors-Screenwriters: Abba T Makama, C J ‘Fiery’ Obasi, Michael Omonua. Producer: Oge Obasi. Cast: Paul Utomi, Don Ekwuazi, Nengi Adoki

Countries: Nigeria, France


JOURNEY: Whether it’s the voyage or the destination, these films transport you and shift your perspective.

Citizen Ashe: The ultimate origin story, Arthur Ashe was not only a pioneer within the world of tennis but a revolutionary social activist for many global causes.

Sun 10 | Mon 11

Directors: Rex Miller, Sam Pollard. Producers: Beth Hubbard, Anna Godas, Rex Miller, Steven Cantor, Jamie Schutz, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe

Country: UK, USA

Freda: Gessica Généus’s debut follows a strong-willed young woman struggling to decide whether to leave the violence of Haiti for the chance of a better life.

Wed 6 | Thu 7

Director: Gessica Généus. Producer: Jean-Marie Gigon. Cast: Néhémie Bastien, Jean Jean, Fabiola Rémy

Country: Haiti

Passing: In Rebecca Hall’s exquisite directorial debut, two childhood friends are reunited as adults in 1920s New York, with one of them now passing as white.

Sun 10 | Tue 12

Director-Screenwriter: Rebecca Hall. Producers: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Margot Hand, Rebecca Hall. Cast: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland.

Country: USA


CREATE: Celebrating artistic expression and electricity of the creative process.

8 Bar – The Evolution of Grime: This intriguing and expansive documentary looks at the complex history and impact of Grime, tracking its enormous influence and resonance on modern UK music and culture.

Sat 16 | Sun 17

Director: Ewen Spencer. Producers: Aleksandra Bilic, Jamie Clark, David Upshal

Country: UK

We (Nous): An inquisitive and deeply revealing journey on the tracks of the RER B, a suburban train crossing Paris from North to South.

Sat 9 | Sun 10

Director: Alice Diop. Producers: Sophie Salbot. Cast: Ismael Soumaïla Sissoko, Bamba Sibi, N’Deye Sighane Diop

Country: France


EXPERIMENTA: Films by artists that revolutionise and reshape our vision of cinema.

Lago Gatún: Kevin Jerome Everson’s latest feature-length film, shot in black-and-white 16mm, is a minimalist odyssey that traverses the Panama Canal, between the Earth’s two great oceans, where its American engineers imposed US segregation laws on the canal’s Jamaican migrant workforce.

Fri 15

Director: Kevin Jerome Everson. Producers: Madeleine Molyneaux, Kevin Jerome Everson.

Country: USA

Screening with:

The I and S of Lives: In Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington DC, the camera follows a lone skater’s graceful moves. His clothes match the colours of the mural he skates on.

Director: Kevin Jerome Everson. Producers: Kevin Jerome Everson, Madeleine Molyneaux

Country: USA

Memorials of Meaning (Short Film Collection)

Mudança: A dreamlike territory of imagery sensations in music, painting, poetry, and dance – inspired by the people of the Bijagó archipelago in Guinea-Bissau – speak of revolution.

Sun 17 (Also watch this short for free on the BFI Player)

Director-Producer-Screenwriter: Welket Bungué

Country: Portugal, Guinea Bissau, Germany


FAMILY: Films for the young… and young at heart.

Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences (Short Film Collection)

The Wonderful Story of Aisha, Ali and Flipflopi the Multicoloured Dhow Boat: Aisha and Ali must decide what to do about abandoned plastic, in this film from Kenya that deals with a global problem.

Sun 17

Director: Kwame Nyong’o. Producers: Wanzilu Maingi, Dipesh Pabari. Screenwriter: John Sibi-Okumu

Country: Kenya


TREASURES: Revived and restored from the world’s archives.

Sambizanga: A riveting neorealist testimony to Angola’s anti-colonialist struggle, not screened there until after independence, this is an unforgettable revolutionary film. Set in the weeks leading up to the guerrilla war for independence, Sambizanga focuses on the plight of a young couple.

Tue 12 | The 14

Director: Sarah Maldoror. Screenwriters: Mario de Andrade, Sarah Maldoror. Cast: Elisa Andrade, Domingos de Oliveira, Jean M’Vondo.

Country: Angola-France

Four short films in From the Caribbean to West Africa: Edric Connor’s Travelogues

Jamaica – Third Test
Caribbean Honeymoon No.1
Caribbean Honeymoon No.2
Bound for Lagos


EXPANDED: Step into a new dimension of storytelling with Immersive Art and Extended reality.

See Immersive Art and XR Competition section


SHORTS: Small but perfectly formed.

6-17 Oct: Watch for free on BFI Player

Film: NIGHT OF THE KINGS

Released Friday 23 July
Cert: 15

A new arrival to an Ivory Coast prison is unaware that his storytelling skills will determine his life or death.

Cast: Bakary Koné, Isaka Sawadogo, Steve Tientcheu, Rasmané Ouédraogo, Abdoul Karim Konaté, Laetitia Ky, Denis Lavant. Director: Philippe Lacôte

Book online: https://www.altitude.film/page/night-of-the-kings-la-nuit-des-rois?country=united-kingdom

BFI FLARE – Last chance to see.

Mama Gloria
“Costumes Rupal couldn’t light a match to!”

This fabulous film sees Gloria Allen, known as ‘Mama Gloria’ , tell her life story as a trans woman in Chicago’s black trans community.

A beautiful look at her life, family, school friends, work at the Centre on Halstead, and growing old.

Find out more about this and the following films via:

35th BFI Flare LGBTIQ+ film festival 2021

Book now online on the BFI website.

Other films still available:

AIDS DIVA: The Legend of Connie Norman
Colors of Tobi
Cowboys
Cured
Dramarama
Rurangi
The Greenhouse

PLUS: All the BFI Flare 2021
Short Films are FREE to WATCH.

35th BFI Flare LGBTIQ+ film festival 2021

It’s arrived, the 35th BFI Flare film festival. Twelve days of screening, 26 feature films, and 38 free short films, from 23 countries. All films are available online on the BFI Player from the 17th-28th March. There will also be talks available on BFI YouTube and BFI Flare Facebook, including a Screen Talk with actor Russell Tovey. All widely available wherever you are in the UK.

The festival kicks off with the International premiere of JUMP, DARLING. A heartfelt family drama about a drag queen reconnecting with his aging grandmother, featuring a stunning performance from the late Hollywood legend Cloris Leachman in her final starring role, and there are more films to see, immerse yourself in and live through.

Our 2021 selection of Feature and Short films to see at the festival, includes films from Kenya, Canada, Israel, Portugal, France, Brazil, Germany, the UK and USA. There are films about love, activism, and campaigning, with some focusing on individuals and groups that made a difference. Tickets can be purchased on the BFI website.

 

FEATURE FILMS

BODIES includes stories of sex, identity and transformation.

I Am Samuel
This is as much a film about Kenya’s complex cultural landscape as it is about two young men who must keep their love a secret. As Murimi notes, ‘Most Kenyans are poor and live in rural areas or informal urban settlements where they cannot afford to hide dangerous secrets like their sexuality’. Filmed over the course of five years, I Am Samuel details how daily life is navigated, with both men negotiating their place in the world as heirs to a traditional way of life. At the same time, we are privileged to witness their commitment, daring and imagination as figures in the queer Kenyan underground. Murimi holds his gaze as he stares this fraught and troubling subject in the face.

Kenya, United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, South Africa 2020 | 70 minutes
Directed by: Pete Murimi

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson

On a day unlike any other, Tunde Johnson is confronted with both his sexuality and his race. After coming out to his parents, he is the victim of a racially motivated shooting. Instead of dying he repeatedly undergoes re-incarnation, but the opportunity to do things differently and avoid the tragic consequences of his actions meets the harsh reality of being black and queer in the US. A fresh take on the time loop narrative, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson examines the overlaps of wealth and race, beauty and sexuality, creating a disturbing universe where even the hereafter is a restless limbo upon which the burden of straddling many worlds at once constantly weighs.

USA 2019 | 104 minutes
Directed by: Ali LeRoi
Featuring: Steven Silver, Spencer Neville, Nicola Peltz

Valentina

Valentina wishes the only complications in her life were crushes on cute boys and fake IDs to go clubbing. But as a transgender teen in Brazil today, she faces significant social stigma and bureaucratic barriers. Her steadfast mum will do anything to smooth the path, so together they start over in a new town where nobody knows Valentina is trans. She becomes fast friends with a sweet gay guy and a pregnant computer nerd, but when they find themselves separated at a drunken party Valentina is harassed by someone who threatens to out her. However, with her steely support network and a maturity and resolve far beyond her years, she steamrollers the haters in this timely and transcendent drama.

Brazil 2020 | 95 minutes
Directed by: Cássio Pereira dos Santos
Featuring: Thiessa Woinbackk, Guta Stresser, Rômulo Braga

Well Rounded

Shana Myara’s documentary focuses on fat and fierce babes in Canada who are using their creativity to clap back at a diet culture that seeks to shrink marginalised bodies. Interviewees all tell stories of struggle, self-actualisation and radicalisation, and taking back charge in a fatphobic, racist heteronormative society. Here, fatness, queer identity and race intersect in unique ways that never get represented in film, underlined with a fat-ass bass soundtrack and gorgeous animation. It’s a truly liberating film, and through its use of burlesque, comedy, dance circus, media and more, you will be left in no doubt of the intrinsic value of ALL bodies. DIY, direct and full of heart, Well Rounded takes us through personal stories of terror and triumph – this is the fat queer film we’ve been waiting for!

Canada 2020 | 61 minutes
Directed by: Shana Myara
Featuring: Candy Palmater, Ivory, Lydia Okello

 

HEARTS includes films about love, romance and friendsh

Boy Meets Boy
It’s Harry’s final day in Berlin, and he has been partying for the last 48 hours. On the sweaty euphoria of the dancefloor he shares a kiss with Johannes. Striking up a conversation, Johannes offers to help Harry print his boarding pass, leading them to spend the rest of the day wandering the city streets together. But with Harry’s imminent flight back to the UKlooming, the pair are quickly forced to understand the true impact of this brief encounter. Boasting beautifully natural performances from Matthew James Morrison and Alexandros Koutsoulis, Boy Meets Boy is a distinctly modern queer love story, exploring the complexities of attraction and power of connection in ways that are both refreshingly realistic and achingly romantic.


Germany 2021 | 75 minutes
Directed by: Daniel Sánchez López
Featuring: Alexandros Koutsoulis, Matthew James Morrison

Sweetheart
The last place socially awkward 17-year-old AJ wants to be is on holiday at the seaside with her oh-so-annoying family. Dragged along by put-upon mum Tina, AJ is determined not to have fun. When she discovers the campsite doesn’t even have Wi-Fi, it promises to be the worst week of her life. But then a chance meeting with resident lifeguard Isla changes AJ’s perspective. Perhaps being stuck there with no means of escape isn’t so bad when there is the chance she could fall in love for the first time. Marley Morrison’s debut feature is a refreshing take on the coming-of-age story. Playing it confidently for laughs, with some dramatic currents underpinning the action, it features a knockout performance by Nell Barlow as the misunderstood AJ. A delight throughout and not to be missed.

United Kingdom 2021 | 103 minutes
Directed by: Marley Morrison
Featuring: Nell Barlow, Jo Hartley, Ella-Rae Smith

 

MINDS features reflections on art, politics and community.

Mama Gloria
Described as a ‘love letter to a charismatic activist’, Fisher’s heartfelt debut is a warm and honest depiction of trans life in Chicago’s Black community. Gloria Allen, also known as ‘Mama Gloria’, narrates her life from early childhood and becoming a fixture of the ball scene in Chicago’s South Side to creating a charm school for local trans girls, proving that trans women can live to old age. Gloria’s unique perspective dispels the myth that aggressive racism only existed in the southern states, and from that context the film confronts the distressing violence that has punctuated her life. Nonetheless, it is a life lived with the support of deep family ties, buoyed by faith and carried forward with remarkable kindness.

USA 2020 | 76 minutes
Directed by: Luchina Fisher
Featuring: Gloria Allen

Rebel Dykes
It’s finally here! After a rabble-rousing preview at Flare 2016, Rebel Dykes returns in all its ass-kicking, leather-wearing glory. The film follows a tight-knit group of friends who met at Greenham Common peace camp and went on to become artists, performers, musicians and activists in London. A heady mash-up of animation, archive footage and interviews tells the story of a radical scene: squatters, BDSM nightclubs, anti-Thatcher rallies, protests demanding action around AIDS and the fierce ties of chosen family. This is an extraordinarily privileged glimpse into a bygone world by those who not only lived out their politics with heartfelt conviction but lived to tell the tale.

United Kingdom 2021 | 82 minutes
Directed by: Harri Shanahan, Sîan Williams
Featuring: Siobhan Fahey

 

Other films worth seeing:

The Greenhouse – Discovering a way to travel back in time helps Beth come to terms with her present in this daringly original debut.

No Ordinary Man – The fascinating story of pioneering jazz musician Billy Tipton is brought thrillingly to life in this celebratory documentary portrait.
Includes insight from scholar, author, and activist, C. Riley Snorton on the interaction with Black musicians.

P.S. Burn This Letter Please – When a cache of letters written by 1950s New York drag queens was discovered in 2014, filmmakers Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera tracked down the authors to hear their story.
There is a brief and fascinating look at the Harlem drag scene at that time.

SHORT FILMS

 

Beginnings and Endings
From an unexpectedly eventful train journey, to the end of the world, this stunning collection of shorts explores the trials and triumphs of being your true self.

Buck – In an attempt to deal with his depression, Lynn goes out into the night looking for a good time.
Dirs. Elegance Bratton, Jovan James. USA 2020, 14mins.

Cosmopolitan – Jacob faces racial prejudice when he attempts to enter a gay nightclub.
Dir. Moran Nakar. Israel 2020, 7mins.

 

For the Record
Traversing a wide range of subjects, this inspiring selection of short form documentaries is guaranteed to provoke and inspire in equal measures.

Above the Troubled Water – Three Nigerian men are scattered across the globe after escaping homophobic violence.
Dir. Joe Cohen. United Kingdom, USA 2020, 38mins.

Tracing Utopia – Young queers connect in a sci-fi dream world to build a war machine of love and a virtual manifesto for the future.
Dirs. Catarina de Sousa, Nick Tyson. Portugal, USA 2021, 27mins.

 

Heart’s Desires
History, geography and personal circumstances may change but challenges facing the heart are timeless and universal.

The Act – One young man faces up to the joys and perils of living a gay life amidst the sexual repressiveness of pre-1967 London.
Dir. Thomas Hescott. United Kingdom 2020, 18mins.

Isaac and the Ram – A tense encounter between a young man in distress and his reluctant saviour.
Dir. Jason Bradbury. United Kingdom 2020, 15mins.

Of Hearts and Castles – When two lonely men meet they discover something revealing about each other and themselves.
Dir. Rubén Navarro. USA, Spain 2020, 14mins.

 

Into the Unknown
The blurred lines of love and friendship between women are explored in these poignant and beautiful short films.

The Cost of Living – Lily is stuck in a state of ennui, until Death comes along in the form of a beautiful woman and entices her to live.
Dir. Alice Trueman. United Kingdom 2021, 13mins.

Love Is a Hand Grenade – Mixing drink, drugs and a friendship on eggshells was always going to be an explosive mix in this bittersweet British mini drama.
Dir. Jessica Benhamou. United Kingdom 2020, 13mins.

 

Queer as in Question Everything
Here’s a collection of funny, sweet and strange shorts for the natural contrarian.

Acrimonious – Hilarious, heart-breaking and relatable all at once – how to bounce back when a breakup crashes you back down to earth?
Dir. Olivia Emden. United Kingdom 2020, 14mins.

Pure – Whoever you are, whatever your desires, you too shall go to the prom!
Dir. Natalie Harris. USA 2020, 12mins.

We Two – A smart, meditative take on the gulf that emerges between ex-lovers.
Dir. Grace Porter. United Kingdom 2020, 3mins.

 

Shapes We Make, Spaces We Take
Our relationship to our bodies and our homes have become more complex than ever. These five shorts up the ante, exploring where, how and with whom we feel at home.

Space / Walk – Two queer people talk intergenerational experience down on England’s south coast.
Dirs. Tarik Elmoutawakil, Amina Yousif, Carmen D’Cruz. United Kingdom 2020, 23mins.

Transitions II: Movement in Isolation – Aesthetically bold, visually rich – a beautiful non-linear encounter with the physical and social dimensions of chronic pain.
Dir. Tobi Adebajo. Nigeria, United Kingdom 2020, 12mins.

 

Striving to Be Seen
Inquisitive tales of resilience, memory and enlightenment in this largely fictional selection, traversing an expanse of trans experience across Europe and the Americas.

Dustin – A wild drug-fuelled ride and the long morning after follows the highs and lows of a Parisian party queen.
Dir. Naïla Guiguet. France 2020, 20mins.

Unliveable – Those close to a missing trans woman join forces to search for her, until a strange canister points towards an extra-terrestrial mystery.
Dirs. Matheus Farias, Enock Carvalho. Brazil 2020, 20mins.

64th BFI London Film Festival 2020 – Feature Films

From 7 to 18 October the BFI London Film Festival will be the first ever edition to be widely accessible wherever you are in the UK, with over 50 virtual premieres, free online events and cinema screenings across the land.

2020 has been the most extraordinary year and the London Film Festival follows the trend in bringing something completely new to the year. The 64th BFI London Film Festival this year is not bound by London, you can see films all over the country. To add to that, the festival this year is providing many opportunities to see over 50 virtual premieres via the BFI’s online platform. It’s a change that may affect the festival for many years to come which isn’t a bad thing. It’s great that the festival can go ahead this year even though the World has had the Coronavirus pandemic to deal with. So many things ground to a halt, but it hasn’t stopped the festival, and in this landmark year, there are still loads of films to see, immerse yourself in and live through.

In addition to the short films and feature films, the BFI London Film Festival is offering LFF Expanded – a set of films and experiences – an augmented reality, and AI-driven Virtual Reality -experiment. Some of the content on offer is best viewed via a VR headset, but many also offer direct viewing via your web access.

Here is our 2020 selection of films, LFF Expanded and events. Highlights include two films from Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology series – Mangrove and Lovers Rock. Regina King’s directorial debut with One Night In Miami, based on Kemp Powers stage play about a night in Miami with Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown. Kemp Power also brings Pixar movie, Soul co directed with Pete Docter and featuring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, and Phylicia Rashad. Yemi Bamiro’s One Man and His Shoes looks at the legacy of Nikes, Michael Jordon promoted, basketball shoes, Air Jordons. Time takes us on a 20-year campaign by wife Fox Richardson to get her husband released from a life sentence, and 15 years after his film, Injustice charting deaths in custody, Ken Fero brings us Ultraviolence.

ALSO SEE OUR SHORT FILM SELECTION

Videos

African Apocalypse:

 

Cicada:

 

One Man and His Shoes:

 

Time:

 

Ultraviolence:

 

7th October

Mangrove

DEBATE

“The Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill doubled as a community centre for Black Londoners to exchange ideas and to commune. As police brutality and harassment intensified, the Mangrove also became a site of resistance leading to the wrongful arrest for incitement to riot of nine local activists including Altheia Jones-LeCointe (Letitia Wright) and Darcus Howe (Malachi Kirby). Oscar-winner Steve McQueen’s depiction of the infamous 55-day trial is a moving instalment from his Small Axe anthology series, a collection of films that evoke memories, political events and a critical perspective on life for London’s West Indian community between the 1960s and 1980s.”

United Kingdom 2019 | 126 minutes

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Featuring: Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, Malachi Kirby, Rochenda Sandall, Jack Lowden

 

9th October

Farewell Amor (also 12th October)

LOVE

“A New York-based Angolan man finally reunited with his wife and daughter – Esther and Sylvia arrive from Angola to live with Walter, who left his war-torn homeland 17 years ago. Sharing a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, they try to rebuild their lives together and overcome the personal and political differences that developed in their years apart. Walter accepts that he can no longer play the role of the single man, while Esther has become a devout Christian, secretly sending what little they earn to her church back home. Meanwhile, Sylvia tries to adjust to life in this foreign land.”

USA 2019 | 101 minutes

Directed by: Ekwa Msangi

Featuring: Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Zainab Jah, Jayme Lawson

 

Time (also 10th, 11th, 13th, 15th October)

DEBATE

“Fox Richardson has spent over 20 years campaigning for the release of her husband, who was sentenced to life without parole for a botched armed robbery. At the same time, she single-handedly raised six sensitive and bright sons. Garrett Bradley’s (America) feature showcases her tremendous talent and ambition, deftly combining home video archive and contemporary footage of Fox and her sons, presenting a remarkably resilient woman who transformed from being collateral damage of the US penal system into an inspirational campaigner. Enhanced by stunning black and white photography and an evocative blues score. An epic personal journey of hardship and hope, it reveals the devastating effects of mass incarceration on Black communities in America.”

USA 2020 | 81 minutes

Directed by: Garrett Bradley

 

10th October

I Am Samuel (also 13th October)

JOURNEY

“Samuel was born and raised on a farm in rural Kenya. Moving to its capital, Nairobi, he meets and falls in love with Alex. Samuel’s father, a preacher at his local village church a few miles from the capital, expects his son to marry and looks forward to the day when he brings home a daughter-in-law. While Alex and Samuel’s love for each other thrives, they remain constantly aware of the shadows of violence creeping around them. After all, under the Kenyan constitution’s penal code, introduced by the British some 100 years ago, homosexual acts carry a 14-year prison sentence.”

Content warning: this film contains scenes of homophobic violence.

Kenya 2020

Directed by: Pete Murimi

 

11th October

Eyimofe (This is My Desire) (also 14th October)

JOURNEY

“The rich tones and complex hues of the Esiri brothers’ striking portrait of migration highlights what is left behind. Set in Lagos and divided into the provocatively titled chapters ‘Spain’ and ‘Italy’, we follow Mofe (Jude Akuwudike), a factory technician and Rosa (Temi Ami-Williams), a hairdresser as tragedy and survival fuel their desires for a better life’ in Europe. Captured with stoic precision on 16mm, Eyimofe (This is My Desire) resists the temptation of high drama to show the sprawling city and the forces that propel its unique social dynamic. The elegant directorial eye of Arie and Chuko Esiri combined with skilful performances from Akuwudike and Ami-Williams mark the film as another great contribution to the burgeoning independent Nigerian new wave.

Nigeria 2019 | 114 minutes

Directed by: Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri

Featuring: Jude Akuwudike, Tomiwa Edun, Temi Ami-Williams

 

Industry (also 14th October)

DEBATE

Episodes 1, 2 and 4

“An investment bank’s graduate programme is a hotbed of ambition and insecurity in this timely, tightly-plotted drama. Led by rising star Myha’la Herrold, these friends and rivals navigate a toxic culture of ego, excess and the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis as they compete for permanent jobs. Lena Dunham directs the first episode with verve, providing a typically frank lens on sex, drugs and millennial vulnerability. Writers Kay and Down subvert expectations at every turn, delivering a fresh and incisive exploration of race, class and the price of success.”

UK 2019 | c.145 minutes

Directed by: Lena Dunham, Tinge Krishnan, Ed Lilly

 

One Night in Miami… (also 12th October)

JOURNEY

“Based on Kemp Powers’ award-winning stage play, One Night in Miami… is the imagined story of what followed 22-year-old Muhammad Ali’s (Eli Goree) 1964 victory over heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Sat ringside are Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). The film explores the personal and political conflicts faced by the men — balancing their public image in a world where the pinnacle of success for a black person was to be a sportsperson or entertainer, alongside their drive to fight for black liberation. The conversations that followed were not without conflict and King’s depictions of their lives apart from each other is as much a testament to the strength of their character as it is the power of the film’s thrilling narrative. This was a meeting of minds on a historic night.“

USA 2020 | 111 minutes

Directed by ; Regina King

Featuring: Ben-Adir Kingsley, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr

 

Soul (also 13th, 14th, 17th October)

FAMILY

“Jamie Foxx is Joe Gardner, a music teacher who lives for his art. Just as his professional career is about to take off, a fateful mishap finds him embarking on an unexpected journey of self-discovery to The Great Before, an incredible place where new souls are born. Unfolding across a series of beautifully realised worlds, Soul takes a refreshing look at how we become ourselves. With an all-star cast that includes Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs, Angela Bassett and Tina Fey, Docter and co-director Kemp Powers along with producer Dana Murray have crafted a universal narrative that will appeal to all ages, and a universe that is as smart and life-affirming as it is funny and exciting. The perfect film for your heart, body and, well…soul.”

USA 2020 | c100 minutes

Directed by: Pete Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers

Featuring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad

 

12th October

Cicada

LOVE

“New York City, 2013. Introspective bisexual Ben drifts from one casual encounter to the next. While his recent relationships barely last past morning, things change when he meets Sam, a handsome stranger with whom he forms an immediate connection. But as they spend more time together, both men begin to recognise the need to confront past traumas if they are to truly let the other person in. Based on personal experience, writer/director/star Matt Fifer and co-director Kieran Mulcare have crafted a richly textured drama, tackling complex subjects with grace, delicacy and uncompromising honesty. Fifer’s sympathetic central performance is ably matched by co-writer Sheldon D Brown’s nuanced turn as Sam, with the pair establishing an effortless on-screen connection that brings real heart to their timely and, ultimately, hopeful tale.”

USA 2020 | 93 minutes

Directed by: Matt Fifer, Kieran Mulcare

Featuring: Matt Fifer, Sheldon D. Brown, Sandra Bauleo

 

Ultraviolence

DEBATE

“Since 1969, there have been over 2000 deaths in police custody in the UK. It is a frightening statistic that Ken Fero approaches with seasoned conviction. 15 years after his ground-breaking film Injustice, Ultraviolence employs unflinching archival footage to document the tragic and undignified deaths that took place between 1995 and 2005. Victims include Fero’s classmate Brian Douglas and Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot and killed whilst travelling on the London underground. With intimate access to a variety of sources, Fero encounters families devastated by these killings and subsequently thwarted in their struggle for justice. Ultraviolence shows a corrupt system failing UK citizens.”

United Kingdom 2020 | 75 minutes

Directed by: Ken Fero

 

13th October

One Man and His Shoes (also 13th, 16th October)

DEBATE

“South Londoner Yemi Bamiro follows his impressive short works with a debut feature documentary of scale – examining the cultural and commercial phenomena of Michael Jordan against the increasing commodification of Black culture and a lack of corporate accountability. A sportsman with once-in-a-generation talent, Jordan was held up as a symbol of Black progress; he had his own phenomenally successful trainer brand that made Nike one of the most profitable companies in the world. Bamiro deftly charts the rise of Jordan against 80’s and 90’s pop culture milestones: hip hop, Spike Lee, the emergence of the mega-watt and mega-rich sports personalities. He also highlights how brands became savvy manipulators of youth culture by stoking America’s toxic obsession with consumerism and celebrity in a climate of increasing class and race inequality.”

United Kingdom 2020

Directed by: Yemi Bamiro

 

14th October

David Byrne’s American Utopia (also 15th October)

CREATE

“‘Do we get stupider as we grow up?’ In his wildly popular Broadway show American Utopia, Byrne reflects on human connections, life and how on earth we work through it. He joins the dots with his music and it all starts making sense. Spike Lee here transforms the production into immersive, dynamic cinema that radiates with astounding performances, inventive contemporary dance and political urgency. American Utopia flows like an iridescent dream vision. Work by James Baldwin, Janelle Monáe and Kurt Schwitters is highlighted among exhilarating renditions of Byrne’s solo work as well as Talking Heads classics. According to the multi-hyphenate, we love looking at humans more than anything else. Anti-fascist and anti-racist, Byrne illuminates our responsibility to care for one another as he and his co-performers burn down the house.”

USA 2020 | 105 minutes

Directed by: Spike Lee

Featuring: David Byrne, Jaqueline Acevedo, Gustavo di Dalva, Bobby Wooton III

 

16th October

African Apocalypse (also 19th October)

DEBATE

“When British-Nigerian poet and activist Femi Nylander discovered Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the novel that Barack Obama claims helped him understand why ‘white people are afraid’, he was immediately drawn to understanding this distorted vision of Africa. Embarking on a spiritual journey to Niger, Femi uncovers the violent legacy of the real-life counterpart to Conrad’s novel, French Captain Paul Voulet, whose genocidal mission in 1898 can still be felt today, through subsequent generations of his victims. A brutal indictment of colonialism that never shies away from the horrifying terrorism Africans endured under colonial rule.”

United Kingdom, Niger 2020 | 88 minutes

Directed by: Rob Lemkin

 

Limbo

JOURNEY

“Limbo is at once deadpan comedy and also poignant tale of a group of refugees stuck, pending asylum, on a weather-beaten Hebridean outpost, the Uists. Sharrock cites Elia Suleiman as an inspiration and here too we see a deep humanism behind the wry gaze and a desire to move beyond cross cultural narratives of simple reconciliation. Rising UK star Amir El-Masry impresses as Omar, one of four men in this ‘limbo’ together, who find a bond in the shared strangeness of their situation and distance from their own countries and families.”

United Kingdom 2020 | 103 minutes

Directed by: Ben Sharrock

Featuring: Amir El-Masry, Vikash Bhai, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Kwabena Ansah, Ola Orebiyi

 

18th October

Lovers Rock

LOVE

“Another in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe collection of vivid memories, political indictments and historical artefacts depicting Black West Indian presence in London. In this edition, it’s a Saturday sometime in the 80s, Samson preps his sound system for Blues dance while Martha shimmies down her drainpipe, and Franklin, drenched in Brut, is primed to steal a heart. Red Stripe costs a pound, sweat drips from the walls as hips lock to the rhythm of lovers’ rock, and souls are possessed by dub vibrations. McQueen’s roving camera and luminous cast spread out and fill the screen. Inviting us to remember, not so much the good times, as the spectres of racism and violence loom, but the risk and reward of letting go for a night.”

United Kingdom 2020 | 68 minutes

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Written by: Courttia Newland, Steve McQueen

Featuring: Amarah-Jae St Aubyn, Michael Ward, Shaniqua Okwok, Kedar Williams-Stirling

 

LFF EXPANDED

Available 7th-18th October 2020

All Kinds of Limbo

The National Theatre’s musical VR experience transports the viewer into a vibrant theatrical world inspired by the influence of Caribbean culture upon the UK music scene.

You’ll need an Oculus Rift, Rift S or HTC Vive tethered headset to experience this work for free

UK, 2019 | 14 minutes
World Premiere (Individual Audience Version)

Format: 6DOF

Devised and Directed by Toby Coffey

Composed by Raffy Bushman & Nubiya Brandon

Lyrics by Nubiya Brandon

 

Common Ground (360 Version)

One of the most influential VR documentaries of the last few years deals with the recent history of the infamous Aylesbury Estate and its influence on UK housing policy.

You don’t need any special tech to experience this work for free, or you can use a headset.

UK, 2019
World Premiere (360 Version)
Format: 3DoF   

Written, Produced and Directed: Darren Emerson
Contributors:
Jean Bartlett, John Boughton, Kevin Holland, Aysen Dennis, Judi Bos, Anthony Badu

Gimme One

Get to know 5 members of the thrilling Ballroom scene in the UK while they explore their gender and sexuality through dance, in this ravishing VR documentary.

 

Virtual (Black) Reality:

Immerse yourselves in the lives of 4 Africa-descended Berliners and Parisians, whose realities offer a window into very different experiences of everyday life. Comprising the Afropean experience, they follow the stories of Bella, Babs, Kwesi, and ShaNon, unified by their origins and cultural backgrounds.

Virtual (Black) Reality: Volume 2 – Babs

Babs sees his barber shop in Paris as a melting pot for people from all cultural backgrounds and religions to create a shared sense of community.

Virtual (Black) Reality: Volume 2 – Bella

Angolan-descendant Bella embraces life as a dancer and dance teacher in Berlin.

Virtual (Black) Reality: Volume 2 – Kwesi

Kwesi, who works at the Each One Teach One library in Berlin, shares his views on early German colonial aggression on the African continent.

Virtual (Black) Reality: Volume 2 – ShaNon

Having migrated at an early age from Uganda, ShaNon believes in the plurality of origins and sees in her heritage so much more than an ‘Afropean’ cultural background.

UK 2020 | 14 minutes

Baff Akoto

World Premiere

Format: VR180

 

64th BFI London Film Festival 2020 – Short Films

From 7 to 18 October the BFI London Film Festival will be the first ever edition to be widely accessible wherever you are in the UK, with over 50 virtual premieres, free online events and cinema screenings across the land.

2020 has been the most extraordinary year and the London Film Festival follows the trend in bringing something completely new to the year. The 64th BFI London Film Festival this year is not bound by London, you can see films all over the country. To add to that, the festival this year is providing many opportunities to see over 50 virtual premieres via the BFI’s online platform. It’s a change that may affect the festival for many years to come which isn’t a bad thing. It’s great that the festival can go ahead this year even though the World has had the Coronavirus pandemic to deal with. So many things ground to a halt, but it hasn’t stopped the festival, and in this landmark year, there are still loads of films to see, immerse yourself in and live through.

In addition to the short films and feature films, the BFI London Film Festival is offering LFF Expanded – a set of films and experiences – an augmented reality, and AI-driven Virtual Reality -experiment. Some of the content on offer is best viewed via a VR headset, but many also offer direct viewing via your web access.

ALSO SEE OUR FEATURE FILM & LFF EXPANDED  SELECTION

Here is our 2020 selection of short films at the festival.

Short Films – available to watch for free on the BFI Player.

Available 7th-18th October 2020

 

Kids Will Be Kids

Children worldwide can be unruly, wild and unmanageable. This is all part of growing up, even if it sometimes means going beyond the limits. These films, from the backstreets of Accra in Ghana and the Australian Outback, to rural life in India and Wales, and the dog-eat-dog world of a British estate, perfectly illustrate this.

Chicken

Young Barbara’s mother has just been overcharged at the local supermarket and it’s up to her to go there and sort it out.

Content warning: this film contains scenes of racism.

Australia 2019 | 9 minutes

Directed by: Alana Hicks

Featuring: Mariah Alone, Wendy P. Mocke

Good Night (Da Yie)

Two kids chasing chickens and playing football in the backstreets of Accra make friends with a rich guy. Their joie de vivre brings about a change in him.

Content warning: this film contains scenes of animal harm.

Ghana, Belgium 2019 | 20 minutes

Directed by: Anthony Nti

  

My Time to Shine

Whether or not the world is a kind and accepting place, these films present grand visions of strength and self-discovery. And on life’s rocky road, there is something to be said for being certain about the person you are.

Buck

Lynn is caught in a heady mix of depression and self-determination. After a debauched night of setting boundaries and crossing others, he realises his path is his own to define.

Content warning: this film contains scenes of drug use.

USA 2020 | 14 minutes

Directed by: Elegance Bratton, Jovan James

Featuring: Malik Shakur, Biko Eisen-Martin, Simbi Kali

Dungarees

A story of young love, as a transgender teen and a cis-gender teen spend their time together on a regular night, doing regular things. Or not.

United Kingdom 2020 | 5 minutes

Directed by: Abel Rubinstein

Featuring: Pete MacHale, Ludovic Jean-Francois, Atlanta Hayward

Panthers (Panteres)

Joana and Nina are 13-year-old girls on the brink of womanhood, provocatively confronting their female gender, queerness and social norms.

Spain 2020 | 22 minutes

Directed by: Èrika Sánchez Marcos

Featuring: Laia Capdevila, Rimé Kopoború

Shagbands

During a sizzling summer in the noughties, a gang of South London schoolgirls face strange sexual awakenings, which culminate in a visceral fate.

Content warning: this film contains scenes of violence.

United Kingdom 2020 | 18 minutes

Directed by: Luna Carmoon

Featuring: Ruby Stokes, Frankie Box

 

Secrets & Lies

Less peaks, more troughs. Whether it’s secrets or lies, these very personal stories range from the everyday to the far out, with characters who exude resilience and self-determination.

Gramercy

Shaq returns to his hometown for the first time in six months with a lot of baggage. This beautiful and dreamlike exploration of young black manhood explores loss and depression, brotherly love and pure joy.

USA 2019 | 22 minutes

Directed by: Jamil McGinnis, Pat Heywood

Featuring: Shaq Bynes, Karon Tracey, Jihad Marshall

The Spark (Brûle)

Maya likes her boss a little too much. As things come to a head she has a choice: to stay quiet or take matters into her own hands.

France 2020 | 23 minutes

Directed by: Elvire Muñoz

Featuring: Lyna Khoudri, Adeline D’hermy

 

This is the Rhythm of My Life

Music, film, faith, costumes and colour lift our spirits and allow us to dream. Strip them away and life might be simpler, but it’s the strength we find in these things that brings us together and, like the characters in these films, makes us eternally interesting.

Henet Ward

As her daughter Ward plays, a Sudanese henna painter prepares an Egyptian bride for her wedding. As she paints, complicity is replaced by blame and suspicion.

Egypt 2020 | 22 minutes

Directed by: Morad Mostafa

Mother

Through the power of vogueing, a group of young dancers in a favela in Rio de Janeiro try to find their way in the world in this pulsating documentary.

United Kingdom, Brazil 2020 | 21 minutes

Directed by: Jas Pitt, Kate Stonehill

Salsa

In a Buenos Aires’ hairdressing salon clients, dancers and reggaeton singers find their community. This subtle documentary says a lot, with very little, about the inclusive nature of music.

Argentina, Portugal 2020 | 13 minutes

Directed by: Igor Dimitri

Featuring: Estarlyn Rafael, Jannik Mioducki, Nehuen Zapata

 

UK Focus

A chance to see some of the best in UK filmmaking talent, with a varied and diverse selection of stories. Crossing genres and styles, from horror and comedy to animation and powerful drama, this is a vital snapshot of new British filmmaking that’s not to be missed.

Dolapo is Fine

This rewarding and thoughtful depiction of an ever-relevant issue finds a young black girl about to leave boarding school and encouraged to conform to white beauty standards for a job in the City.

United Kingdom 2019 | 15 minutes

Directed by: Ethosheia Hylton

Featuring: Doyin Ajiboye, Joan Iyiola, Gina McKee

Expensive Shit

Tolu has a choice: save herself or save her friend. As a nightclub toilet attendant, she is both overlooked by and integral for a group of depraved men set on a hideous act.

Content warning: contains racist slurs.

United Kingdom 2020 | 15 minutes

Directed by: Adura Onashile

Featuring: Modupe Adeyeye, Kim Allan, Nebli Basani

Good Thanks, You?

The swirling timeline and strong central performance convey problems in suppressing a traumatic event that is often so hard to talk about.

Content warning: this film contains scenes of sexual abuse.

United Kingdom 2019 | 13 minutes

Directed by: Molly Manning Walker

Featuring: Jasmine Jobson, Micheal Ward, T’Nia Miller

Mandem

It’s a sweet day for two drug dealers. Heading out to parties, selling to insanely posh folk and eating patties, these are the little things that make people more than just friends.

Content warning: this film contains scenes of drug use.

United Kingdom 2019 | 10 minutes

Directed by: John Ogunmuyiwa

Featuring: Bradley Banton, Stevie Basaula

Two Single Beds

Two London comedians find sanctuary in each other after a show in Doncaster. Is 170 miles as far from reality as they’re willing to let themselves go?

United Kingdom 2019 | 16 minutes

Directed by: William Stefan Smith

Featuring: Daniel Kaluuya, Seraphina Beh

 

We Built A World

In a year that has faced many challenges, we look to the perspectives of those we often do not see. In doing so we hold a mirror up to the world we live in. These films offer a moment to reflect and question, as well as engage with communities and their stories.

Dafa Metti

In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, Senegalese migrants seek to create a better life for themselves and the ones they love.

United Kingdom 2019 | 15 minutes

Directed by: Tal Amiran

Lizard

Juwon, an 8-year-old girl with an ability to sense danger gets ejected from Sunday school service. She unwittingly witnesses the underbelly in and around a Mega Church in Lagos.

United Kingdom, Nigeria 2020 | 17 minutes

Directed by: Akinola Davies Jr

Featuring: Pamilerin Ayodeji, Osayi Uzamere, Rita Edward

Loose Fish

A group of boys spend their days seeking work daily in a Moroccan fishing port. Concerned about their future, they decide to save enough money to escape.

Argentina, Morocco, USA 2020 | 15 minutes

Directed by: Francisco Canton, Pato Martinez

 

Speculative Futures

This programme considers the futures we might gift, extrapolate or create from our present tensions, through the eyes of those bequeathed. An odyssey of desires from queer to Afrofuturism to the posthuman: all have a stake in this planet and demand a request for a better tomorrow.

Glenville

Portrait based on the first cinematic representation of Afro-American intimacy in the 1898 film Something Good-Negro Kiss.

USA 2020 | 2 minutes

Directed by: Kevin Jerome Everson, Kahlil I. Pedizisai

Featuring: Sabrina McPherson, Hakeem Sharif

Here Is The Imagination of the Black Radical

Afrofuturism and carnival as resistance at the Junkanoo festival in the Bahamas, from Aesthetica Art Prize winner Rhea Storr.

United Kingdom, Bahamas 2020 | 11 minutes

Directed by: Rhea Storr

The End of Suffering (a proposal)

An interplanetary symphony for Sofia.

Greece 2020 | 14 minutes

Directed by: Jacqueline Lentzou

Featuring: Sofia Kokkali

No Go Backs

Two teenagers traverse a post-apocalyptic California in this tale of an inherited wasteland, unprepared resilience and compassion, which points to the beginnings of a new future.

USA 2020 | 33 minutes

Directed by: Stanya Kahn

Featuring: Lenny Dodge-Kahn, Elijah Parks, Marisol Prietto, Serafina Prietto

 

Exposing Territories

These films bear testimony to oppressive histories of confinement, restriction, violence, and their consequences. The artists use artefacts of the past to transform our comprehension of historic injustice and to expose colonial strategies of oppression that sought to destroy cultures. Resistance and creativity inevitably immerge in new vibrant ways.

Leave the Edges

A deep and rich exploration of the complex ancestries of African diasporic cultural expression, inspired by post-colonial African spirituality and artistic practices from West Africa to the Caribbean and Europe. It mixes subtle and exquisite film with live choreography to create a visual poem of dynamic interactions between image, dance, ritual and music.

United Kingdom 2020 | 40 minutes

Directed by: Baff Akoto

Featuring: Yane Mareine, Yinka Esi Graves, Julien Béramis

King of Sanwi

Re-worked footage from an unfinished film by Senegalese director Mamadou Johnny Sekka forms a re-examination of The Jackson 5’s 1974 trip to Dakar.

USA, Ghana 2020 | 7 minutes

Directed by: Akosua Adoma Owusu

No Archive Can Restore You

An imagining of lost films from the Nigerian Film Unit archive, with distinctive soundscapes, juxtaposed with images of the abandoned interior and exteriors of the building that housed it.

United Kingdom 2020 | 6 minutes

Directed by: Onyeka Igwe

The Map Makers

Abstracted footage and audio of bombs dropping on Biafra in 1967 set against a speech by leader Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, illustrates the ironies of post-colonial warfare.

Nigeria, France 2020 | 17 minutes

Directed by: Newton Aduaka

Missing Time

A new formation of history that includes the fantastical as well as the political in the context of Britain’s decolonial process in Kenya and during the Cold War.

United Kingdom 2019 | 14 minutes

Directed by: Morgan Quaintance

Strange Object

An archival investigation into the imperial image-making of the RAF ‘Z Unit’, which determined the destruction of human, animal and cultural life across Somaliland, as well as Africa and Asia.

United Kingdom 2020 | 15 minutes

Directed by: Miranda Pennell

Windrush Caribbean Film Festival

Opens October 17th – 8th November 2020

“A six day digital festival of screenings, discussions and master classes aims to celebrate the contributions and impact of the Windrush generation on life in the UK today. The festival is the brainchild of  Solomon whose award-winning film HERO, inspired by WW2 and Windrush hero Ulric Cross, toured the UK to critical acclaim in 2019. Its success was the inspiration for this full blown festival.” (https://alt-africa.com/2020/09/20/windrush-caribbean-film-festival-2020-save-the-date-opens-october-17th-8th-november-2020/)

https://windrushfilmfestival.com/the-festival/