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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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.”
“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.”
“‘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
“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.”
“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
“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
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.
It’s arrived! The 63rd BFI London Film Festival runs from the 2-13 October 2019, with a bumper selection of films to choose from around the world, including: Brazil, Cameroon, Congo, France, Haiti, Italy, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, UK, USA, Vietnam, and Zambia.
Here is our selection of 42 feature films and 4 events. Highlights include Mati Diop‘s Atlantics, Burning Cane with Wendell Pierce, Alfre Woodard in Clemency, the long awaited, Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo. Michael Jordan will be in attendance giving a screen talk, and starring in Just Mercy, and Lupita Nyong’o stars in Little Monsters. We’re also looking forward to UK films, Rocks and White Riot.
Atlantics(Atlantique) Friday 04 October 2019 | 18:00 | Vue West End, Screen 7 Saturday 05 October 2019 | 20:40 | Cine Lumiere Monday 07 October 2019 | 12:10 | BFI Southbank, NFT1
Ada and Souleiman are in love. But Souleiman is tired of labouring without pay on the gleaming towers of Dakar. He sets out across the sea with friends, leaving Ada to face impending marriage to another man. But as the women gather in the bar where the men used to drink, it seems that something has returned after all.
Dir Mati Diop; With Mama Sané, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré France-Senegal-Belgium, 2019
A young woman named Teresa travels home for the funeral of her grandmother, who was the matriarch of Bacurau, a village that happily embraces its misfits, mixed-heritage outsiders, whores, hippies and queers. On arrival, Teresa discovers that the dusty little town has been wiped clean off the map by the middle-class elite from the north, who are busy ingratiating themselves, selling their country and its people (quite literally, it turns out) to rich European and American interests.
Burning Cane Friday 11 October 2019 | 20:50 | BFI Southbank, NFT3 Saturday 12 October 2019 | 16:30 | Vue West End, Screen 6
Helen stalks through her farm with a cleaver in one hand, cigarette in the other, running through the various treatments she’s tried for her dog’s mange. Her recently unemployed son Daniel pushes beer and whiskey on his own child. And the local preacher (Wendell Pierce) remains in denial about the malice forming an increasingly powerful undertow to his sermons. As alcohol and melancholy suffuse this Louisiana family and their pastor, a woozy portrait emerges – one of characters living in lows they cannot transcend.
Dir-Scr Phillip Youmans; With Wendell Pierce, Karen Kaia Livers, Dominique McClellan USA 2019
Burning Night(Breve Miragem de Sol) Thursday 03 October 2019 | 18:20 | BFI Southbank, NFT3 Saturday 05 October 2019 | 20:30 | Vue West End, Screen 4
Down on his luck and recently divorced, Paulo (Boliveira) has begun driving a cab around Rio, hoping he’ll make enough to send his ex money to support their ten-year-old son. He mostly works nights, so in addition to his encounters with a colourful variety of customers, colleagues, cops and others, he must cope with loneliness, fatigue and new faces in his life.
Dir Eryk Rocha; With Fabricio Boliveira, Bárbara Colen, Cadu N Jay Brazil-France-Argentina 2019
Clemency Wednesday 02 October 2019 | 18:00 | Vue West End, Screen 7 Friday 04 October 2019 | 15:00 | ODEON Tottenham Court Road, Screen 3 Friday 11 October 2019 | 20:30 | ICA Cinema, Screen 1
Clemency opens with experienced prison warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) overseeing a lethal injection that goes agonisingly wrong. Botching ‘the procedure’ heightens scrutiny over her next execution, of convicted cop killer Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge) who maintains his innocence. Woodard delivers a stunning performance as methodical authority figure Bernadine, whose necessary professionalism has made her emotionally unavailable to husband Jonathan (The Wire’s Wendell Pierce). No amount of after-work drinking will make the nightmares stop.
Dir-Scr Chinonye Chukwu; With Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce USA, 2018
Desrances Thursday 03 October 2019 | 18:10 | Vue West End, Screen 4 Saturday 05 October 2019 | 12:20 | Vue West End, Screen 4
After the brutal massacre of his family in Haiti, Francis Desrances resettles in the Ivory Coast. Years later Francis, his wife Aissey and 12-year-old daughter Haila await the birth of a son, who to Francis’ excitement and Haila’s irritation is immediately regarded as the worthy heir to the Desrances name. As the birth looms, civil war erupts in Abidjan and amidst the melee Aissey goes missing. Haila courageously steps forward in ways that challenge her father’s notion of what constitutes a rightful heir.
Dir-Scr Apolline Traoré; With Jimmy Jean-Louis, Naomi Nemlin, Evelyne Ily Burkina Faso, 2019
Give Me Liberty Friday 11 October 2019 | 18:00 | Vue West End, Screen 7 Sunday 13 October 2019 | 19:45 | BFI Southbank, NFT3
American-Russian Vic drives a van transporting disabled passengers around Milwaukee. He needs this job and today he’s running dangerously late. Tracy, an African-American woman with ALS, is not impressed. But there’s also Vic’s eccentric Russian grandfather’s neighbours, who all need a lift to a funeral, plus a livewire dude called Dima, who claims to be the deceased’s nephew and is coming along for the ride. From these chaotic beginnings, the film zooms through a day and a night, creating a turbulent tapestry of working-class lives that touches on issues of race, disability and poverty in America’s most segregated city.
Dir Kirill Mikhanovsky; With Chris Galust, Lauren ‘Lolo’ Spencer, Maksim Stoyanov USA, 2019
Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman nonetheless escaped the South of the US and travelled alone over 100 miles on foot to the first free state, Philadelphia. But finding it impossible to enjoy her freedom while others were enslaved, she returned as a fugitive over 13 times to dangerous Confederate states, helping more than 70 people escape in the years before the Civil War.
Dir Kasi Lemmons; With Cynthia Erivo, Janelle Monáe, Joe Alwyn, Clarke Peters, Leslie Odom Jr USA, 2019
Just Mercy Saturday 05 October 2019 | 14:45 | Vue West End, Screen 7 Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 14:15 | ODEON Luxe Leicester Square
Fresh from Harvard Law School, fledgling attorney Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) defies the wishes of his parents, who are concerned about the notoriously racist South, when he ventures to Alabama to open a law practice to support death row inmates routinely denied proper legal counsel. Meeting with a variety of prisoners, Stevenson soon encounters Walter “Johnny D” McMillan (Foxx), a black man accused of the brutal murder of a white teenage girl, an allegation he vehemently denies, with numerous factors clearly supporting innocence. Despite Johnny D’s scepticism that he will be afforded due diligence by a corrupt system, Stevenson hires local advocate Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), and mounts an urgent case for a retrial, uncovering a chain of injustices and crucial oversights as they search for the truth.
Dir Destin Daniel Cretton; With Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Rafe Spall, O’Shea Jackson Jr USA, 2019
First Feature Competition
The Last Black Man in San Francisco Friday 04 October 2019 | 18:00 | Curzon Mayfair Cinema, Screen 1 Saturday 05 October 2019 | 15:15 | ODEON Tottenham Court Road, Screen 3 Friday 11 October 2019 | 20:30 | BFI Southbank, NFT2
Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) dreams of reclaiming the beautiful late 19th century home his grandfather built in the heart of the city, before harder times and changing demographics forced his family out. He and best friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) scheme to make this happen while Jimmie annoys the sitting tenants with guerrilla gardening on the beloved Fillmore house. A skateboarder and dreamy, suit-wearing playwright, the pair are at odds with the tough guys around the neighbourhood, and spend their time working to deliver Jimmie’s dream while living with Mont’s grandfather (Danny Glover).
Dir Joe Talbot; With Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan USA, 2019
Little Monsters Saturday 05 October 2019 | 18:00 | BFI Southbank, NFT1 Monday 07 October 2019 | 15:30 | Vue West End, Screen 5 Tuesday 08 October 2019 | 18:15 | ICA Cinema, Screen 1
Dave is at a crossroads in his life. Recently dumped and with his aspirations of heavy metal stardom fading away, the eternal man-child is forced to crash on his sister’s sofa. However, things look up when he meets the effervescent Miss Caroline, his 5-year-old nephew’s favourite teacher. Desperate to spend time with the object of his affection, Dave signs up to chaperone a school trip to the local petting zoo. But when the neighbouring military base accidentally unleashes a hoard of zombies upon the unsuspecting farmyard, Dave, Miss Caroline and their miniature posse must join forces to keep the flesh-eating army at bay.
Dir-Scr Abe Forsythe; With Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Gad, Alexander England Australia-USA-UK, 2019
The Lost Okoroshi Thursday 03 October 2019 | 20:40 | Vue West End, Screen 4 Saturday 05 October 2019 | 15:30 | ICA Cinema, Screen 1
Fed up with the soulless city and how its dwellers have lost touch with their ancestral traditions, Raymond Obinwa yearns for reconnection between man, spirit and traditional society. He awakens one morning to find he has transformed into a traditional Igbo masquerade Okoroshi. In his new form, Raymond/Okoroshi sets off on a quest to find a new home in the city. Along the way, he encounters brassy sex-worker Doris, street hustler Willy-Willy – who is convinced of Okoroshi’s earning potential – and witnesses the idle chit-chat of conspicuous pseudo-spiritual authority the IPSSHRR (The Igbo People’s Secret Society for Heritage, Restoration and Reclamation).
Dir-Prod Abba Makama; With Seun Ajayi, Judith Audu, Tope Tedela Nigeria, 2019
Luce Sunday 06 October 2019 | 17:30 | Vue West End, Screen 7 Sunday 06 October 2019 | 18:00 | Vue West End, Screen 5 Monday 07 October 2019 | 20:30 | ODEON Tottenham Court Road, Screen 3
Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr) is a former refugee, a child soldier from a war-torn African country. Seemingly recovered from his childhood trauma, he now lives in his adoptive country as the son of white liberal middle-class parents (Tim Roth and Naomi Watts). His high school’s brightest hope – a fiercely intelligent debater and star athlete – Luce seems destined to achieve great things. But after he chooses Franz Fanon as an assignment to deliver a paper in the voice of a historical figure, Luce’s English teacher (Octavia Spencer) becomes suspicious that something darker may lurk beneath his highly-controlled exterior.
Dir Julius Onah; With Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr USA, 2019
The Man Who Cuts Tattoos Tuesday 08 October 2019 | 18:30 | BFI Southbank, NFT2 Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 18:40 | Vue West End, Screen 6
To mark the beginning of adulthood and prepare for marriage, a young girl in an Edo village must undergo a painful rite of passage through scarification. The agony she endures for a loving union finds her questioning the process. Sometime in the future, unencumbered by the traditions that exist in present day Lagos, Michelle questions her tumultuous relationship with boyfriend America. Having recently found out she’s pregnant, with America pushing her towards an abortion and with her job on the line, Michelle also considers the sacrifices that are made for love.
Dir-Scr Michael Omonua; With Valerie Dish, Omowunmi Dada, Duke Elvis Nigeria, 2019
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool Thursday 10 October 2019 | 20:30 | Curzon Soho Cinema, Screen 1 Saturday 12 October 2019 | 12:30 | Prince Charles Cinema, Downstairs Screen
This detailed, textured chronology offers something for all, from jazz newbies to viewers who’ve long been drowning in the ocean of genre-expanding music that poured from the musician’s magically muted trumpet. Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool swings through five decades of sonic innovation: from hard bop to heavenly orchestrations, the ambient acoustics of Kind of Blue to the funky fusion of Bitches Brew. It’s a treasure trove of electrifying archive and authoritative interviewees (including several collaborators and ex-lovers), which smartly deploys extracts from Miles’s searing autobiography. The film also explores his impact on black cultural identity and doesn’t flinch from discussing the violent, drug-fuelled ravages of a troubled and troubling icon.
Dir Stanley Nelson USA-UK, 2019
Muna Moto Saturday 12 October 2019 | 15:10 | BFI Southbank, NFT3 Sunday 13 October 2019 | 20:30 | BFI Southbank, Studio
Ngando (David Endéné) and Ndomé (Arlette Din Belle) are deeply in love. Ngando wishes to marry Ndomé. But he is poor and cannot afford a dowry, making him unable to fulfil the tradition. And according to the village tradition, she must take a husband. After a meeting, the villagers decide that Ndomé should marry Ngando’s childless uncle, Mbongo (Philippe Abia), who already has three wives. In despair, Ngando decides to something unthinkable on the day of the wedding.
Dir-Scr Jean-Pierre Dikongué-Pipa; With Philippe Abia, Arlette Din Bell, David Endéné Cameroon, 1975
My Friend Fela Friday 04 October 2019 | 20:45 | BFI Southbank, NFT2 Saturday 05 October 2019 | 12:45 | BFI Southbank, NFT2 Sunday 06 October 2019 | 14:45 | Vue West End, Screen 4
Fela Kuti inspired a generation of Africans and African Americans with his own unique style of music, known as Afrobeat. A combination of Afropop, jazz, highlife, juju and funk, it was infused with social and political criticism of the military dictatorship in Nigeria. With an expertly assembled mix of interviews and archive footage, director Joel Zito Araújo presents a complex portrait of an enigmatic and often troubled man.
The Living and the Dead Ensemble, an artist collective from Haiti, France and the UK, bring an embodied and contemporary perspective to the history of the only uprising of enslaved peoples that led to the creation of a state. Shot in Haiti and France, through complex conversations and performances, Ouvertures considers ideas around language and translation as well as major themes of colonialism, power, cultural memory, generational trauma, knowledge and resistance.
Dir Louis Henderson, Olivier Marboeuf with The Living and The Dead Ensemble France-Haiti-UK, 2019
Premature Saturday 05 October 2019 | 21:00 | Vue West End, Screen 6 Monday 07 October 2019 | 15:45 | Vue West End, Screen 4
Temperatures are rising in Harlem as Ayanna (Zora Howard) prepares to depart for a college writing programme. Then Isaiah appears on the scene. Echoing John Singleton’s Poetic Justice, Ayanna’s arresting poetry charts the rocky terrain of first love. If the couple find themselves tethered to the reality of urban life, at incisive moments they manage to soar within the love-scape of their own making.
Dir Rashaad Ernesto Green; With Zora Howard, Joshua Boone USA, 2019
Real Sunday 06 October 2019 | 18:15 | Vue West End, Screen 6 Tuesday 08 October 2019 | 15:45 | ODEON Tottenham Court Road, Screen 3
Young couple Jamie (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and Kyle (Omoshaybi) struggle to manage personal hardship at the start of their blossoming relationship. Jamie leads the charge with quiet tenacity as a mother determined to create a stable environment for her young son. In tandem, Kyle puts the need to battle his own demons on hold and is willing to beg, steal or borrow to impress his new love.
Dir-Prod-Scr Aki Omoshaybi; With Aki Omoshaybi, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Karen Bryson UK, 2019
Everyone’s an amateur archivist these days, but few match the pre-internet dedication of public access TV producer Marion Stokes. Philadelphia’s visionary hoarder recorded 70,000 VHS tapes filled with news broadcasts, from 1979’s Iranian hostage crisis to the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project shows how this librarian, computer collector and Star Trek-loving civil rights activist quickly perceived the ways 24-hour cable television was rewiring viewers’ minds.
Olushola Joy Omotoso, ‘Rocks’ to her mates, is a London teenager with ordinary teenage cares; hanging with her crew and helping to look after her little brother keeps her grounded. But on returning from an ordinary day at secondary school, she discovers her mother isn’t home. There’s just a little cash and an apology note. Fearing that she and her brother will be separated if the authorities find out, Rocks decides not to tell anyone and instead copes with her brother alone.
Dir Sarah Gavron; With Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D’angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes UK, 2019
Say Amen, Somebody Monday 07 October 2019 | 18:15 | BFI Southbank, NFT2 Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 20:30 | BFI Southbank, Studio
In this masterful and beautifully restored observational music documentary, George T Nierenberg captures show-stopping musical performances interwoven with fascinating intimate, behind-the-scenes personal moments. With unrivalled access, the film pays tribute to the lives and careers of the movement’s luminaries. These include ‘Mother’ Willie Mae Ford Smith, gospel’s diva and earth mother – a skilful singer and preacher who championed equality for women – and ‘Professor’ Thomas A Dorsey, a blues player who turned to the church and also became a prolific composer, songbook publisher and concert organiser. Spotlighting the work of other artists such as Sallie Martin, the Barrett Sisters and the O’Neal Twins, this extraordinarily infectious and deeply emotional concert film is a truly uplifting experience.
Dir George T Nierenberg USA, 1982
Staff Only(El viatge de la Marta) Friday 04 October 2019 | 18:10 | Cine Lumiere Sunday 06 October 2019 | 17:45 | Vue West End, Screen 4
Is it possible to avoid being problematic when you’re a middle-class white tourist prone to sunburn and entitlement? It’s what Spanish teenager Marta (a quietly intense Elena Andrada) wonders as she eye-rolls her way through a painful Christmas holiday in Senegal, staying with her estranged dad and annoying little brother in a resort full of white sunburnt pensioners. Turning her nose up at her dad’s timetable of culturally-appropriative tourism, she rejects family bonding time, choosing instead to make some local alliances, first with the hotel maid Aissatou and then a romance with aspiring filmmaker Khouma.
Dir Neus Ballús; With Elena Andrada, Sergi López, Diomaye A.Ngom Spain-France, 2019
Synchronic Sunday 06 October 2019 | 20:50 | Empire Haymarket, Screen 1 Monday 07 October 2019 | 15:30 | Prince Charles Cinema, Downstairs Screen Tuesday 08 October 2019 | 12:50 | Vue West End, Screen 4
Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan star as a pair of paramedics traversing the nocturnal streets of New Orleans. More than just colleagues, the duo enjoy a long-standing friendship, supporting each other through the difficulties they face in their increasingly complicated personal lives. But when they encounter a series of bizarre deaths which all appear to lead back to a new designer drug called Synchronic, the two men find their bond put to the test as their worlds are unexpectedly thrown into chaos.
Dir Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson; With Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton USA, 2019
Talking About Trees Tuesday 08 October 2019 | 20:45 | ICA Cinema, Screen 1 Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 15:40 | BFI Southbank, NFT2
Suliman and three further members of the ‘Sudanese Film Club’ have decided to revive an old cinema. They are united not only by their love of cinema and their passionate desire to restore old film stock and draw attention to Sudanese film history once more, but also by the fact that they have all enjoyed a film education in exile. Tirelessly, they try to get the cinema’s owners on their side and make the place operational again, but repeatedly find themselves up against considerable resistance. In the meantime, they sit together and talk about the past – including their experiences of persecution and even torture as oppositional artists. They also read out old letters written while in exile and dream of a Sudan in which art and intellectual thought can be free. ‘We are smarter than them, but not as strong,’ is how they unanimously summarise their situation.
The Valley Sunday 06 October 2019 | 20:45 | Vue West End, Screen 6 Monday 07 October 2019 | 13:15 | BFI Southbank, NFT2
Sometimes help comes from the most unexpected places. The valleys of the French Alps experienced enforced displacement during Second World War, so perhaps it’s no surprise that many residents feel moved to help refugees whose homes have also become battlefields. In a climate of mistrust and rising prejudice, it’s refreshing to witness everyday people get savvy about the laws of these lands, especially when political engagement is fickle. As one man quips, ‘Increase the retirement age by six months and you’ll have three million people protesting, but nothing for this’.
In Pedro Costa’s 2014 drama Horse Money, Vitalina Varela made a memorable appearance, effectively playing herself. In this follow-up – less a sequel than a deeper pursuit of its themes and motifs – Varela steps into the foreground as a woman who, after years waiting for a plane ticket, arrives in Portugal three days after her husband’s funeral. A mesmerising contemplation of race, grief and exile…
Dir Pedro Costa; With Vitalina Varela, Manuel Tavares Almeida, Francisco Brito Portugal 2019
Walking with Shadows Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 20:45 | Curzon Soho Cinema, Screen 1 Thursday 10 October 2019 | 20:40 | Vue West End, Screen 4
Ebele Njoko (Ozzy Agu) has been running all his life. A search for acceptance and love from his family has led him to recreate himself as Adrian – respected father, husband and brother. In coming to terms with his sexuality, Adrian is forced to choose between a compromised existence and the life that he would like to lead. When his mask is cruelly stripped away, Adrian’s world rapidly unravels.
Waves Saturday 12 October 2019 | 21:15 | ODEON Luxe Leicester Square Sunday 13 October 2019 | 20:30 | Vue West End, Screen 6
Popular high-school athlete Tyler (an astonishing Kelvin Harrison Jr. who also shines in Luce) lives a seemingly privileged life. An all-star wrestler with a loving girlfriend and a supportive, affluent family, he spends his days training, and his nights partying. But beneath the fragile veneer of perfection, cracks are beginning to show. Under constant scrutiny from his overbearing father, ignoring the reality of a potentially serious shoulder injury and reeling from an unexpected development in his romantic relationship, Tyler’s world looks set to implode. As the pressures around him steadily mount, a series of events are put in motion which threaten not only Tyler’s happiness, but also the lives of the people he loves the most.
Dir-Scr Trey Edward Shults; With Kelvin Harrison Jr, Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell USA 2019
White Riot Saturday 05 October 2019 | 20:50 | Curzon Soho Cinema, Screen 1 Sunday 06 October 2019 | 18:15 | Prince Charles Cinema, Downstairs Screen
Rock Against Racism (RAR) was formed in 1976, prompted by ‘music’s biggest colonialist’ Eric Clapton and his support of racist MP Enoch Powell. White Riot blends fresh interviews with queasy archive footage to recreate a hostile environment of anti-immigrant hysteria and National Front marches. As neo-Nazis recruited the nation’s youth, RAR’s multicultural punk and reggae gigs provided rallying points for resistance. As founder Red Saunders explains: ‘We peeled away the Union Jack to reveal the swastika’. The campaign grew from Hoxton fanzine roots to 1978’s huge antifascist carnival in Victoria Park, featuring X-Ray Spex, Steel Pulse and of course The Clash, whose rock star charisma and gale-force conviction took RAR’s message to the masses.
Dir Rubika Shah; With Red Saunders, Roger Huddle, Kate Webb UK 2019
Zombi Child Sunday 06 October 2019 | 18:20 | Empire Haymarket, Screen 1 Monday 07 October 2019 | 20:40 | Cine Lumiere Friday 11 October 2019 | 15:30 | Prince Charles Cinema, Downstairs Screen
Haiti, 1962. A man is resurrected from the dead. Forced to work on a sugar cane plantation, Clairvius Narcisse is trapped in perpetual night. Fast forward to contemporary Paris. Haitian teen Mélissa is the new girl at a prestigious school, where cerebral lectures on liberalism are de rigeur. Mélissa makes her first friend in dreamer Fanny when they discover a shared passion for Stephen King. Fanny invites Mélissa to join a secret ‘literary sorority’. But while presentations on Rihanna keep their story firmly 21st-century, something more ancient is at play, with Mélissa harbouring an incendiary family secret.
Dir-Scr Bertrand Bonello; With Louise Labèque, Wislanda Louimat, Katiana Milfort France 2019
Other films and events of interest:
Cold Case Hammarskjöld Friday 04 October 2019 | 18:00 | Curzon Soho Cinema, Screen 1 Saturday 05 October 2019 | 17:50 | BFI Southbank, NFT2
Mads Brügger’s investigation, attempts to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjöld, who served as the second Secretary General of the United Nations. In 1961, while attempting to negotiate a ceasefire in the Congo, his plane crashed in Zambia, killing all on board. The reason for the crash is a mystery. A number of conspiracy theories exist, particularly as Hammarskjöld was outspoken in his opposition to colonialism and appeared on the black list of many powerful mining companies.
Dir-Scr Mads Brügger; With Göran Björkdahl, Mads Brügger Denmark-Norway-Sweden-Belgium, 2019
County Lines Tuesday 08 October 2019 | 18:30 | Vue West End, Screen 7 Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 20:45 | BFI Southbank, NFT2 Sunday 13 October 2019 | 20:30 | Vue West End, Screen 7
The term ‘county lines’ describes the practice of using children to traffic drugs from cities to coastal towns and rural areas, an underreported fact of modern British life. Inspired by the stories he heard while mentoring kids at an East London pupil referral unit, writer-director Henry Blake’s powerful feature debut boasts a compelling central performance by Conrad Khan as 14-year-old Tyler, whose mum Toni (Ashley Madekwe) is struggling to provide for him and his sister. Excluded from school, Tyler becomes a train-bound narcotics courier for local criminal Simon.
Dir-Scr Henry Blake; With Conrad Khan, Ashley Madekwe, Harris Dickinson UK, 2019
Divine Love(Divino amor) Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 20:45 | Empire Haymarket, Screen 1 Thursday 10 October 2019 | 18:10 | Vue West End, Screen 4 Friday 11 October 2019 | 15:30 | BFI Southbank, NFT2
Brazil, 2027. Joana is a civil servant working with clients seeking a divorce. A devout believer in the institution of marriage, she does what she can to persuade quarrelling couples to give it another go, turning to the unorthodox methods of her religious group Divino Amor. But things are not plain sailing at home. Try as they may, Joana and her husband Danilo remain childless, despite their staunch efforts to conceive. Becoming increasingly reliant on her local 24-hour drive-through priest service, Joana is fast giving up hope, until one day a miracle happens.
Dir Gabriel Mascaro; With Dia Praes, Julio Machado Brazil-Uruguay-Chile-Denmark-Norway-Sweden, 2019
Knives Out Tuesday 08 October 2019 | 19:30 | ODEON Luxe Leicester Square Tuesday 08 October 2019 | 20:30 | Embankment Garden Cinema Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 11:30 | Embankment Garden Cinema Friday 11 October 2019 | 11:00 | ODEON Luxe Leicester Square Sunday 13 October 2019 | 14:45 | Empire Haymarket, Screen 1
Murder mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a veritable one-man crime-fiction industry and his adult children – and their children – have been living off him for years. When he turns up dead, the apparent victim of a murder, it seems that no-one has a motive for killing the golden goose. At least, that’s what the detectives assigned to the case think. But Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) – the debonair ‘Kentucky-fried’ private investigator mysteriously hired by an anonymous source – has other ideas. With a superb cast at their arch best (Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Ana de Armas and Don Johnson, to name a few), this is impeccably written and designed, full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish.
Dir-Scr Rian Johnson; With Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Lakeith Stanfield USA, 2019
Moffie Thursday 10 October 2019 | 20:40 | Vue West End, Screen 7 Thursday 10 October 2019 | 21:10 | Vue West End, Screen 5 Friday 11 October 2019 | 12:30 | Vue West End, Screen 7 Friday 11 October 2019 | 13:00 | Vue West End, Screen 5
1981, South Africa. Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) has long known he is different, that there is something shameful and unacceptable in him that must stay hidden, denied even. But South Africa’s minority government are embroiled in conflict at the Angolian border and all white young men over 16 must serve two years of compulsory military service to defend the Apartheid regime and its culture of toxic racist machismo. The ‘black danger’ is the real and present threat; what is wrong with Nicholas and others like him can be rooted out, treated and cured like a cancer. But just when fear pushes Nicholas to accept unspeakable horrors in the hopes of staying invisible, a tender relationship with another recruit becomes as dangerous for them both as any enemy fire.
Dir Oliver Hermanus; With Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan de Villiers, Matthew Vey South Africa-UK, 2019
Monsoon Saturday 05 October 2019 | 18:15 | Empire Haymarket, Screen 1 Sunday 06 October 2019 | 15:45 | Prince Charles Cinema, Downstairs Screen Monday 07 October 2019 | 15:00 | Vue West End, Screen 7
Londoner Kit (Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians) has come to Vietnam to scatter his mother’s ashes and to connect with the place he departed from as a child. But everything has changed and he finds little to anchor him. That is, until he meets Lewis, a black American living in Saigon whose father served in the war that still underscores many of Kit’s interactions. Monsoon builds an atmosphere that will likely resonate with anyone who has felt that unique sense of loneliness at being somewhere they once belonged.
Dir-Scr Hong Khaou; With Henry Golding, Parker Sawyers UK, 2018
On a Magical Night(Chambre 212) Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 21:00 | Cine Lumiere Friday 11 October 2019 | 16:00 | Vue West End Cinema, Screen 9 Saturday 12 October 2019 | 15:45 | Vue West End, Screen 7
After yet another bitter row, Maria (Chiara Mastroianni) finds herself staying in a hotel overlooking the apartment she shares with husband Richard (Benjamin Biolay). As she debates what to do next, the ghosts of past lovers begin to fill the room, forcing Maria to confront her romantic triumphs and failures. Shot through with the director’s customary eroticism and wit, this gorgeous and often funny film returns to similar territory as break out films Dans Paris (LFF 2006) and Les Chansons D’Amour. The same vivid evocation of Paris is found here, along with a healthy preoccupation with beautiful people and their love affairs. But a refreshing romantic pessimism feels new, lending this apparently small-scale drama an unsentimental and perceptive insight and wisdom.
Dir-Scr Christophe Honoré; With Chiara Mastroianni, Vincent Lacoste, Camille Cottin, Anthony Fulrad France-Luxembourg-Belgium, 2019
Returning to the US as Europe’s ‘It’ girl after her breakout success – including Godard’s Breathless – Seberg (Stewart) finds herself a target of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI when she becomes romantically involved with Black Panther Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie) and flaunts her disregard for America’s misogynistic and racist institutions. Stewart dazzles as the starlet who was all-but-destroyed by an archly conservative FBI – then a nefarious organisation with virtually unchecked power – and dismayed as she unwittingly took others down with her.
Dir Benedict Andrews; With Kristen Stewart, Jack O’Connell, Anthony Mackie, Colm Meaney, Zazie Beetz USA, 2019
The Street Friday 11 October 2019 | 18:15 | Prince Charles Cinema, Downstairs Screen Saturday 12 October 2019 | 12:30 | ODEON Tottenham Court Road, Screen 3
Some of the businesses on Hoxton Street have been around for over a hundred years. But recent times have witnessed an explosion of coffee shops, art spaces and property development. Sound familiar? The locals feel the exclusion of being priced out, and wonder who’s to blame, while Cameron’s EU referendum looms in the background. Xenophobia is tangible; and with a new working space offering colourful ball-pit baths, the disconnect between the new creatives and the local community seems irreconcilable. From 82-year-old Colleen, to the couple who met as teens working in the pie shop they now run, everyone is feeling a storm coming.
Heralding the start of BFI Musicals!, a major UK-wide celebration of the genre, this 50th anniversary screening of Bob Fosse’s directorial debut is a high-energy paean to love, the 1960s and a showcase of his remarkable talent. Fosse’s distinctive choreography, appetite for irony and bold editing ensure that his films are among the most vital in the musical canon, with ‘Big Spender’ and ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ – the inspiration for Beyoncé’s ‘Get Me Bodied’ video – among the stand-out numbers. MacLaine replaced Broadway star Gwen Verdon, but she lights up the screen with Charity’s boundless joie de vivre. She’s brilliantly matched by Chita Rivera and the underrated Paula Kelly as her co-workers at the Fandango Ballroom. When they perform the breathless ‘There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This’ it’s hard not to think, no, there really isn’t. We will also be showing the rarely seen ten-minute alternative ending after the film.
Dir Bob Fosse; With Shirley MacLaine, John McMartin, Ricardo Montalban, Paula Kelly USA, 1969
With a career trajectory that parallels frequent creative collaborator Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan’s rise has been meteoric. From a stunning, acclaimed performance in Coogler’s Sundance-winning Fruitvale Station in 2013, he went on to global megastar status with an intense, soulful turn as titular pugilist Adonis Creed in the Creed series of films and, as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, he became the ‘baddie’ that everyone loathed to hate. Pre-Fruitvale, Jordan impressed in television with roles in acclaimed shows The Wire when he was still in his teens and, just a few years later, Friday Night Lights. Moving into producing, he started his own company Outlier Society, which has a first look deal with Warner Brothers. A powerful advocate for inclusion in the industry, Outlier was one of the first in 2018 to publicly adopt the Inclusion Rider – a contractual stipulation which requires the hiring of a diverse cast and crew on projects. Just Mercy, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, is one of the first projects the company have produced with the Rider in place. The film stars Jordan in a lead role which garnered rave reviews on its recent World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival.
A late addition to the festival, Kasi Lemmons will be talking about her trailblazing career and the making of Harriet, portrayed by Cynthia Erivo.
Starting out as a child actor, the St Louis, Missouri-born Lemmons subsequently appeared in such US television staples as Murder, She Wrote and ER, while also scoring big screen supporting roles in Spike Lee’s collegiate musical School Daze (1988), the cult Nicolas Cage black comedy Vampire’s Kiss (1988), multiple Academy Award winner The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and horror classic Candyman (1992). Having enrolled in the film program at New York’s renowned New School for Social Research, she made an unforgettable directorial debut with the hugely acclaimed Eve’s Bayou: a lyrical, multi-layered and avowedly feminist family saga set in early ’60s Louisiana. Hailed as the best film of 1997 by Roger Ebert, Lemmons’ landmark first outing behind the camera was recently selected by America’s Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. She reunited with Eve’s Bayou star/producer Samuel L. Jackson for twisted mystery The Caveman’s Valentine (2001); won both the African-American Film Critics and NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Director prizes for second feature Talk to Me (2007, starring the equally garlanded Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor); and most recently directed Angela Bassett to an NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress prize with 2013’s Langston Hughes adaptation Black Nativity.
Inspired by the ‘Strategies of Refusal’ Experimenta 2019 programme, this year’s Experimenta Debate invites artists working with the moving image to explore the resistive strategies they employ in their engagement with visual culture. This year’s presenters include Judah Attille, Tanoa Sasraku-Ansah, Adam Farah (free.yard), and Experimenta artists Zinzi Minott and Louis Henderson with a contribution from The Living and the Dead Ensemble. With the lineage of artists moving image still largely stemming from a singular history of avant-garde and experimental cinema, this debate offers an alternative perspective on what innovation and radicality means for artists whose work foregrounds Black experience. What alternative lineages of experimental film practice are artists drawing from? To what extent are artists of marginalised identities able to privilege form over content in their engagement with the audio-visual? Beyond representation, what strategies are artists employing in their practices to address socio-political issues in their work? These provocations follow up on last year’s Debate in which Rabz Lansiquot, Taylor Le Melle & Experimenta 2018 artists Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, Ayo Akingbade and Morgan Quaintance discussed their positions on representation in visual culture, considering the extent to which the visibility of subjects on screen correlates to those same subjects’ agency and sovereignty in praxis.
LFF for Free
Little White Lies Movie Quiz
Prizes to be won, glory to be claimed…
Tickets for this event are FREE but should be booked in advance Tickets available from Tue 24 Sep. Max team size 4. Max 4 tickets per person.
Wednesday 09 October 2019 | 19:00 | Blue Room BFI Southbank
From heroic heroines, famous final lines and award-winning directors, to Hollywood’s golden age, memorable movie flops and the film world’s biggest franchises – come and test your film knowledge. Prizes to be won, glory to be claimed…
Find out more about all of the films on the BFI London Film Festival Website, and remember, there are often standby tickets available for the Sold Out films – if you really want to see it, take a chance and head to the cinema early.
Film: Belly, with an intro by season co-programmer Tega Okiti
BFI Southbank, Sat 10 August 2019, 6:20pm.
‘Acclaimed music video director Hype Williams’ feature debut stars legendary rappers Nas and DMX as friends and gangsters ‘Buns’ and Sincere, who navigate the dangerous underworld on the path towards spiritual awakening. Twenty-one years on, Belly exists as a genuine artefact of hip-hop culture at the dawn of the millennium, and it still has a visual influence on black cinema today.’
BFI Flare, London’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival 2019 begins today, Thursday 21st March 2019, and runs until the 31st March 2019. This year there are loads of films to see, and here are our choices, starting with the much anticipated Jordana Spiro film, Night Comes On.
Here are our selections. To find out more and to attend the festival, just click on the links to the BFI Flare Films.
20:40 Night Comes On(also Sunday 24 March, 15:45) After being released from prison, Angel visits her younger sister Abby, a bright, straight-talking pre-teen who struggles with being in foster care. The unspeakable circumstances that tore their family apart make being together incredibly difficult. Together, they gather enough money to get the bus to their father’s new place, but the tension between them is palpable.
+ The Orphan Following his rejection by multiple foster parents, Jonathas hopes this new couple is ‘the one’.
16:00 The Gospel of Eureka(also Sunday 24 March, 14:00, Sunday 31 March 17:50) Mx Justin Vivian Bond narrates the tale of a Passion Play and a Christian drag show happily co-existing in small-town Arkansas. With a population of just over 2,000, the Bible Belt town of Eureka Springs is not necessarily where you’d expect to find a thriving gay community. Having voted in a Non-Discrimination Ordinance to protect LGBTQ+ rights (a first in Arkansas) and stop the dreaded trans-exclusionary bathroom bill, the townsfolk are a lesson in togetherness.
18:10 Socrates(Sócrates)(also Monday 25 March, 18:30)
After his mother’s sudden death, 15-year-old Socrates must learn how to fend for himself in São Paulo. Unable to collect her ashes without the consent of a legal guardian and with no income to cover the rent for his run-down apartment, Socrates sees no way out. Landing a small construction job, he meets a troubled young man with whom he forms an unlikely connection. But as financial pressures mount, so do Socrates’ burgeoning feelings, leading him to confront the harsh reality of his situation. Co-written, produced and acted by young people from low-income communities in Brazil.
20:50 Vision Portraits(also Sunday 24 March, 14:10)
Hot from its World Premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Vision Portraits is the response of black, gay filmmaker Rodney Evans (Brother to Brother) to his deteriorating eyesight. In this deeply personal documentary, he explores what it means to be a blind or visually impaired creative artist. It’s a celebration of the possibilities of art created by a photographer (John Dugdale), dancer (Kayla Hamilton), writer (Ryan Knighton) and the filmmaker himself, who each experience varying degrees of visual impairment.
18:15 Deep in Vogue(also Tuesday 26 March, 18:10) Manchester’s Vogue ball scene is revealed in a compelling documentary that explores notions of love, community and creativity, as preparations are underway for an upcoming competition. This is a celebration of the queer heroes of this scene, which takes its inspiration from the US model of competing Houses that were developed in the black, gay ballrooms of 1980s New York. And as we hear the life stories of the key players, legendary MC Rikki Beadle-Blair works the runway like no one else.
+ See the Man When a Swedish football team incorporate contemporary dance into their training regime, they find that its rigour and discipline transforms them as a single functioning unit. This moving documentary reveals how the challenge to traditional notions of masculine behaviour truly confounds expectations.
20:30 Two in the Bush: A Love Story(also Tuesday 26 March, 14:10, plus relaxed screening Tuesday 26 March, 14:00) Life is not turning out how Emily planned it. Her girlfriend is cheating on her, she gets fired and to top it all off she’s homeless because the now ex-girlfriend’s name is on the lease of their apartment. She ends up on her friend Rosa’s sofa, eating cereal in her pyjamas and getting too invested in daytime television. When Rosa insists Emily ‘get back in the game’, she somehow ends up working for a dominatrix and going on so many bad Tinder dates she wonders if she’ll ever find love again. That is, until her boss Nikki begins to show an interest, along with her boss’s partner Ben.
20:40 From Zero to I Love You (also Wednesday 27 March, 14:00) This delightful relationship comedy begins when Peter bumps into handsome businessman Jack in a gay bar. After a bumpy start, they begin a passionate relationship, in spite of Jack being married. Peter always seems to end up with married men, a situation which brings its own special set of tensions. Gossip, deception, heartbreak and coincidence play their part and eventually Peter is forced to confront the fact that he needs something to change if he’s going to maintain any self-respect.
18:15 Transmilitary(also Saturday 30 March, 12:00) Exploring the flabbergasting fact that the military is the largest employer of trans people in the US, this film examines the appeal of such a regimented, binary system. Forced to conform to strict hair lengths and uniforms matching gender assigned at birth, one particularly muscly trans male soldier signs up for multiple tours in Afghanistan as overseas he can wear male uniforms and sport a buzz cut. The ridiculousness of his official skirt uniform back home is one of the primary examples convincing the top brass to reconsider the rules. For every step forward there are two steps back, as evinced by the recent Supreme Court decision on the issue.
18:20 Rafiki(also Sunday 30 March, 16:15) Rafiki tells the story of two young women, Kena and Ziki, who find love despite mounting political and family pressures. Based on Monica Arac de Nyeko’s short story, which won the 2007 Caine Prize for African fiction. Like its equally brilliant predecessor Stories of Our Lives, Rafiki faced a hostile response from the Kenyan government. Initially banned, international pressure and strong resistance from Wanuri Kahiu herself won the day, and the film was eventually screened on home turf. Kena and Ziki face violence themselves, yet their story unfolds as an utterly contemporary affirmation for LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
18:40 Shelter: Farewell to Eden(also Friday 29 March, 18:20) Beginning life in the Philippines, in the minority Muslim population known as the Moro, Pepsi recounts her early experiences with the Islamic Liberation Front, before running away to hide her emerging gay identity, before eventually transitioning. Ending up in Libya as a nurse during the final decade of Gaddafi’s rule, she subsequently sought asylum in Italy. Her life on paper reads like a rollercoaster of adversity, yet her wisdom and resilience give her a philosophical perspective to cope against the injustices of inequality.
18:10 Man Made(also Saturday 30 March, 16:10) Tracking four pumped and proud bodybuilders at different stages in their transformation, this documentary unveils the supportive network of men preparing for the annual FitCon. Originating in 2014, the world’s first trans fitness competition started in the southern state of Georgia, with the aim of uniting the community. From pre-hormone novices to stealth heavyweight hunks who compete year-round against cisgendered men, this diverse celebration of trans-masculine bodies is respectfully shot through the eye of a trans director who noted that, ‘For some of these guys, I think bodybuilding literally saved their lives’.
20:45 Tucked (also Saturday 30 March, 18:10) Gender non-conforming Jackie is an 80+ drag queen with an acerbic nightclub comedy act. Diagnosed with cancer but determined to go out with a bang, they keep on performing and boozing. But at home Jackie is confronted with solitude and regret over family estrangements. Then young, non-binary performer Faith appears in the dressing room and Jackie must show them the ropes. Despite demographic differences, they realise how much they have in common and become each other’s support network in this feel-good, Brighton-based comedy.
14:15 Tongues Untied Part documentary, part performance, it was described as ‘the film we have been waiting for’ by critic Cary Alan Johnson and vilified as a misuse of public funds by right-wing presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan. Such divided opinions were testament to the film’s lasting impact as a powerful depiction of the ongoing black liberation movement, twinned with the devastation of the AIDS crisis. 30 years on, the poetry of Marlon Riggs himself, as well as performances from Essex Hemphill and Brian Freeman, comprise a unique record of a critical historical moment with fierce intelligence, virtuosic rhythm and courageous hope that still stuns today.
This screening will be followed by a discussion, hosted by BFI Flare programmer Jay Bernard, with filmmaker Vivian Kleiman, poet Keith Jarrett and singer, writer and historian David McAlmont.
15:00 The Way Things Are – UK Shorts Programme The most exciting home-grown talent is showcased in this wide-ranging collection of short films, exploring the queer experience in its myriad forms. *Contains scenes of suicide, viewer discretion is advised.
Film 2 – Anemone A second-generation teen searches for a way to express their non-binary identity.
Film 3 – Diva A transcendental fusion of queer surrealism and baroque opera.
Film 7 – Ladies Day Whilst at the hair salon, Amma wonders if it is time for her to finally speak up.
Film 8 – Listen A group of trans children discuss what it means for them to live an authentic life.
Film 10 – Batty Boy Struggling with the threat of homophobia, a young black gay man searches for a place of acceptance.
15:50 The Short Films of Marlon Riggs Marlon Riggs was a legendary black gay filmmaker whose poetic style pulled no punches in examining the relationship between race, gender, sexuality, capitalism and the media. A rare opportunity to see all three of his early short films.
Anthem – 1991 An experimental music video portraying a vibrant, exciting and defiant community of black gay men.
Affirmations – 1990 Featuring the poetry of Essex Hemphill, this is a beautiful short film exploring the dreams, desires and fantasies of black gay men.
Non, Je ne regrette rien – 1992 A timely and illuminating documentary examining the impact of HIV and AIDS. There’s fierce and fascinating insight at every turn, and a classic example of Riggs’s formally distinctive style.
2018 BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival began on
Wednesday 21 March, and ends on Sunday 1 April, and there is plenty to see at this year’s BFI Flare Film Festival. Here are our selections. To find out more and to attend the festival, just click on the links to the BFI website.
20:30 The Wound “Kwanda, an edgy city boy, has been taken back to his father’s rural village where he is to undergo the painful initiation ritual that will ‘turn’ him into a man.”
This has to be one of my highlights of the festival. I saw this film at the London Film Festival. Tradition clashes with modern living, with a world of secrets. Absolutely fantastic.
Tuesday 27 March
SHORTS: Rewind the Film Queer histories and queer futures are reconfigured in this collection of experimental short films, showcasing the best in contemporary artists’ film and video.
FILM 8 – Something Said
As history is remembered, the body is reimagined.
Thursday 29 March
20:40(also Friday 30 March, 16:10)
SHORTS: Revelate You must decide what side of reality you stand on in these stories that revel in the dark, the dream-like and the bizarre.
FILM 3 – A Drop of Sun Under the Earth
A man known as Little Bear lives with his father in a run-down Rio slum, but everything changes when he gets a job with a rich older man and becomes obsessed with a Copacabana rent boy.
Friday 30 March
15:45(also Saturday 31 March, 16:15)
SHORTS: Dangerous Atmospheres Sometimes relationships happen in spite of the dangers. Four longer shorts with the power of mini-features explore different situations where things don’t turn out as anyone expected.
FILM 4 – Ursinho
A man known as Little Bear lives with his father in a run-down Rio slum, but everything changes when he gets a job with a rich older man and becomes obsessed with a Copacabana rent boy.
FILM 3 – Y
Laura finds more than she bargained for when she steals from the wrong woman.
18:15(also Saturday 31 March, 16:20) Southern Pride Malcolm Ingram’s spiritual companion piece to his acclaimed documentary Small Town Gay Bar (BFI Flare 2007), Southern Pride offers a fascinating insight into LGBTQ+ rights in a post-Trump landscape. Headstrong bar owner Lynn Koval, alongside a team of friends (and her own Republican-voting sister), endeavour against all odds to organise a Pride march in her local town. Meanwhile, in another part of the state, organisers of a Black Pride celebration are simultaneously striving to make a difference, despite the numerous setbacks that stand in their way. Emotionally textured and politically prescient, this inspiring tale of triumph over adversity addresses themes of leadership, struggle, division, community and race relations, ultimately offering a sense of hope in a world that can too often appear so hopeless.
20:15(also Saturday 31 March, 20:15) Good Manners (As Boas maneiras) Clara, a care worker living on the outskirts of São Paulo, accepts the position of live-in nanny to the as-yet unborn child of a wealthy single woman named Ana. The two women immediately develop a strong bond, but Ana’s increasingly strange behaviour hints at a deep, dark secret.
20:30(also Saturday 31 March, 11:30) Hard Paint Moody, disturbed loner Pedro lives in the depressed harbour town of Porto Alegre. He scrapes together a living as webcam performer NeonBoy and erotic displays of his naked body smeared with neon paint attract a devoted following. When he discovers another male performer, Leon, has copied his act under the pseudonym Boy25, it prompts a radical change to Pedro’s performance and life.
Saturday 31 March
SHORTS: Wanting, Needing, Waiting Whilst travelling down that rocky road toward true love, a disparate group of men face some difficult decisions in this heart-rending collection of short films.
BFI Flare Film Festival is back for 2017. Opening with, Against The Law on Thursday 16th March. Our selection of films to look out for are listed below, and include Oscar winning Moonlight, hotly debated in our Oggscars recording. Set in Miami, the film follows Chiron from childhood to adulthood. Beautifully portrayed, it is a must see.
Also at the festival catch the new UK web series, Different For Girls, a smart, sassy, sexy multi-layered lesbian drama, directed by award-winning Festival alumni Campbell X.
Danny Glover appears in San Francisco-set black comedy, Pushing Dead, as boss to Dan, who is facing losing his HIV drugs after 20 years of keeping it at bay.
Uganda is back in the spotlight at the festival with, The Pearl of Africa. This unified six-part web-series follows Uganda’s first out transgender woman, Cleopatra Kambugu from home to Kenya and then Thailand.
We managed to see Jewel’s Catch One at the 60th London Film Festival. It is a celebration of Jewel Thais Williams, owner of the legendary Catch One bar – one of Los Angeles first gay venues. Covering Jewel’s journey from purchasing the bar, fighting through discrimination, and personal challenges. Jewel managed to create a disco bar that welcomed every one, including stars like Madonna.
Plus Brazillian film, Waiting for B, a kitschy, light-hearted and thoroughly camp portrayal of pop culture, mega fandom and the adoration of Beyoncé.
The festival runs for 11 days, and closes on the 26th March with a gala screening of, Signature Move.
Different for Girls | Fri17
A smart, sexy new lesbian drama web series from the award-winning director Campbell X.
Waiting for B | Fri 17 / Sat 18
A crew of queer young Brazilian camp out two months in advance of Beyonce’s big show. One for superfans of the beyhive.
Moonlight | Fri 17/ Sat 18 / Sat 25
The Oscar winning, much-anticipated feature in which a young boy growing up in a harsh environment learns what it means to love and be loved.
Jewel’s Catch One | Fri 17 / Sat 19
This is the story of how Jewel rose from humble origins to create one of the most inclusive, radical and star-studded LGBT discos in America.
The Pearl of Africa | Sun 19 / Mon 20 / Fri 24
After suffering persecution from Uganda’s government and media, Cleopatra journeys to Thailand to get surgery and finally live freely with her boyfriend Nelson.
Free CeCe! | Tue 21 / Wed 22
Laverne Cox leads this insightful documentary into the case of Cece McDonald, whose infamous case sparked protests around the world.
Can’t Stop the Music | Thur 23 [BFI IMAX, Waterloo]
A monument to camp with the Village People and some of the most dazzling musical numbers ever committed to celluloid.
Being 17 (Quand On A 17 Ans) | Thur 23 / Fri 24
Set in the French Alps, this beautiful and emotional coming of age tale has two boys in their last year at school coming to terms with their emotions.
Body Electric (Corpo Elétrico) | Thur 23/ Sat 25
A lively Brazilian drama set in a garment factory: young manager Elias finds distraction in some of his fellow workers, but is he getting too close?
The Trans List | Thu 23 / Sun 26
Famous faces abound in this new HBO production from Timothy Greenfield-Sanders celebrating trans luminaries.
Pushing Dead | Sat 25 / Sun 26
Delightful comedy set in San Francisco, in which an HIV-positive slacker/writer battles with life, meds and friends.
Pride? | Sat 25 / Sun 26
A warm and intelligent survey that examines the history of Pride, its radical off-shoots, like Black Pride, and what the future of queer organising will be.
Sat 18 / Sun 19 | Transcendent Tales – Bold and beautiful fictional shorts from first inklings to years after transition.
Diane From the Moon
Mya Taylor plays a pagan priestess who takes no prisoners.
Sun 19 / Wed 22 | Shadow and Act – Stylish shorts that compel you to know yourself, live freely and speak the truth to power.
A beautiful letter about migration, identity and love from a young Ghanaian man to his family.
Hattie Goes Cruising
An ageing African-American couple give a how-to on cruising and what it was like being young, queer and pretty in 1970s and 1980s New York.
A young migrant from Guadeloupe on the French vogue scene cares for his younger brother who is getting ready for his first ball. *Watch Free on #BFIPlayer or YouTube as part of #FiveFilms4Freedom
I am a Woman
The politics of gender, identity and race are explored in this short and energetic spoken word piece.
Bayard and Me
Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, the organisational genius behind the 1963 March on Washington, is remembered by his younger partner.
When a sexy chat becomes an intense exchange on race, politics and war, two strangers find out how much they can accept in each other and in themselves.
Thur 23 | The Permanent Perception – The queer experience, both real and imagined. A collection of experimental short films, showcasing the best in contemporary artists’ film and video.
LGBT histories through a TV sitcom lens.
Generation Divide II
More politics and canned laughter.
Sat 25 / Sun 26 | Falling Free – An inspiring and varied collection of queer tales, showcasing our most exciting home-grown filmmaking talent.
We Love Moses
Twelve-year-old Ella discovers a secret about her brother’s best mate.
Sat 25 / Sun 26 | Trials and Liberations – Personal stories of transgender and non-binary experiences from around the globe.
Places of Fear and hatred (Lugares de Medo e Ódio)
Five diverse Brazilians speak out on surviving prejudice and violence.
Sat 25 / Sun 26 | Something to Remember – The unknowable path to self-discovery can take many an unexpected turn, as the young men in these poignant and accomplished short films are soon to discover.
A boxer finds his world turned upside down by the arrival of a new fighter at his club.
*Watch Free on #BFIPlayer or YouTube as part of #FiveFilms4Freedom
The programme for this years BFI London Film Festival runs from 5-16th October 2016. Every year, EC Forde and I try and outline the films that interest us. Some will get a big cinema release, others, a smaller cinema release, and some you may catch at other festivals and screening events. The rest may just vanish from our radar, with the hope that they pop up somewhere in the future (e.g. TV/DVD/Event). So this is the perfect opportunity to see films from around the world. Particularly interesting this year are the number of films we wanted to list. 33 features, and 13 short films.
They take us on a journey through, Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Botswana, South Africa, America, Uganda, Haiti, France and the UK.
See our selection below and find out more on the BFI 60th London Film Festivalwebsite.
Following her groundbreaking debut Bombay Beach, director Alma Har’el returns with another genre-bending, visually stunning gem about our perception of love and relationships, including the psyche of Victory, a young black woman in New York City pondering family bonds and faith.
The powerful true life tale of one girl’s determination to escape from poverty in Uganda by becoming a chess champion, directed by Mira Nair and starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga.
A female-directed and rare film from Niger, about a privileged young woman who comes back home, in the sultanate of Zinder, after studying in Paris to discover the truth of the relationships between women and men in her society.
The Sea is History (work in progress) – The Sea is History, made in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is a free adaptation of the poem by Derek Walcott as a materialist and animist critique of the monumentalisation of European colonial history and its ripples into the present.