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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

 

33 Films to see at the 60th London Film Festival 2016

Update: Tickets still available: http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff/ticket-availability


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 Festival website.

EC Forde & Jammie xx


Feature Films

The 13th

13th-06Director Ava DuVernay presents a searing look at a century of race relations in America in this far-reaching and powerful documentary.

Thu 6
76

76-the-movie-hidingA terse political drama from Nigeria deals with the ramifications for a group linked to the assassination in 1976 of General Murtala Mohammed.

Sat 15
All This Panic

all-this-panic-sage-adamsSeven New York teens emerge from the turbulent ‘panic’ years into nearly adulthood in this astonishingly intimate documentary.

Fri 7, Sat 8
American Honey

american-honey-02Andrea Arnold dazzles with a sun-soaked and tune-filled epic about door-to-door teenage magazine sellers travelling the American highways.

Fri 7, Sat 8, Tue 11
Arrival

arrival_forrestAmy Adams and Jeremy Renner star as the humans who make first contact with extraterrestrial visitors in this richly textured sci-fi from director Denis Villeneuve.

Mon 10, Tue 11, Thu 13
Being 17

being-17-05Hormonal aggression sparks an intense enmity between two 17-year-old schoolboys in the snowy Pyrenees, until the true connection between them surprises everyone.

Mon 10, Tue 11, Sun 16
The Birth of a Nation

The Birth of a Nation

This explosive Sundance-winning drama follows Nat Turner, a preacher who became the radical leader of an uprising against slavery.

Tue 11, Wed 12, Thu 13
Born In Flames

born-in-flames-01Lizzie Borden’s provocative feminist sci-fi returns to our screens and has lost none of its power.

Sat 15
Chi-Raq

Chi-RaqSpike Lee reimagines Aristophanes’ ancient Greek play Lysistrata as a dazzling modern-day hip-hop musical set in Chicago.

Sat 15, Sun 16
Daughters of the Dust [Treasure]

daughters-of-the-dust-still-six-women-group-shotJulie Dash’s groundbreaking Daughters of the Dust remains urgent and poetic and continues to resonate, most recently inspiring Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

Sat 8, Sat 15
Divines

divinesThe gangster genre is given a shrewd feminist makeover in this arresting debut about a young girl embarking on a life of crime.

Thu 6, Fri 7, Tue 11
Fonko

fonko-01A pulsating journey through the electronic urban musical underground of Africa that looks at how the new sounds are defining a generation, from the team behind Black Power Mixtape (LFF2011).

Sat 8, Mon 10
Hissein Habré, A Chadian Tragedy

hissein-habre-chadian-tragedy-01Mahamet-Saleh Haroun (Darrat) returns to the theme of the personal and societal responsibility with this searing documentary about ex-Chadian President Hissein Habré.

Sat 8, Sun 9
Hospital [Treasure]

hospitalAn outstanding restoration of Frederick Wiseman’s unforgettably gripping documentary portrait of New York’s Metropolitan Hospital.

Sun 9
I called him Morgan

i_called_him_morganPart true-crime tale, part love story, this vivid portrait of legendary hard bop jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan is an all-out musical treat (from the director of My Name is Albert Ayler).

Fri 7
The Illinois Parables

The Illinois Parables

Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois.

Mon 10
Jewel’s Catch One

jewels-catch-oneA rousing doc about LA’s first black LGBT disco, defiantly opened in 1973 and beloved by music royalty from Sylvester to Madonna.

Sat 8, sun 9
Layla M

layla-m-01The gripping and powerful story of a young girl’s path towards radicalisation from director Mijke de Jong (Bluebird).

Tue 11, Thu 13
Lovetrue

lovetrue_3Following 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.

Sat 8, Mon 10
Mimosas

mimosas-01A mesmerising combination of travelogue, mysticism and documentary from Spanish director Oliver Laxe, as a young man goes on a mission in the Atlas Mountains.

Thu 6, Fri 7
Moonlight

MoonlightBased on the play ‘In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue’, Moonlight follows Chiron as he finds his identity and sexuality in Miami in the 1980s.

Thu 6, Fri 7, Sat 8
A Moving Image

shola-amoo-a-moving-image-south-london-gentrification-3The gentrification of London’s Brixton is examined in this probing and stylistically ambitious debut feature.

Sat 8, Fri 14, Sun 16
Nocturama

nocturama-01French director Bertrand Bonello imagines Paris in a state of apocalypse, in a provocative, troubling response to the contemporary age of terror.

Sat 15, Sun 16
On Call

La Permanence

on-call-01Filmed in a walk-in service for asylum seekers in an hospital near Paris, this timely documentary captures with great humanity dozens of personal stories.

Wed 12, Fri 14
The Pass

pass-01Two ‘straight’ footballers share a kiss in this powerful chamber piece which opened BFI Flare earlier this year.

Wed 12, Fri 14
Queen of Katwe

Queen of KatweThe 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.

Sun 9, Mon 10, Wed 12
The Revolution Won’t Be Televised

revolution-wont-be-televised-01Rama Thiaw’s film taps into an example of grassroots political action in Senegal, where a group of disenfranchised activists decide to campaign against that country’s elite.

Sun 9, Mon 10
Stolkholm My Love

stockholm-my-love-rainNeneh Cherry, director Mark Cousins (I am Belfast) and cinematographer Christopher Doyle  create an inventive docu-style fiction and a love song to the Swedish city.

Tue 11, Wed 12
Those Who Jump

Les Sauteurs

those-who-jump-still-playing-bootball“I exist because I film” – the compelling first-hand account of an African migrant enduring great hardship to reach Europe and make a better life.

Thu 13, Sat 15
A United Kingdom

united-kingdom-01Amma Asante (Belle, A Way of Life) opens the Festival with this impassioned drama depicting an interracial romance that changed the world.

Wed 5, Thu 6, Tue 11
The Wedding Ring

Zin’naariyâ!

wedding-ring-01A 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.

Fri 14
White Colour Black

white-colour-black-01A young mixed heritage man confronts the psychological complexities of his identity in this essential, truly cinematic discovery for anyone interested in Black British cinema.

Sat 15
Wùlu

wulu-02What happens when a life of crime offers more opportunity than living an honest life? It’s a challenge Malian bus driver Ladji faces in this superb drama.

Fri 7, Sat 8

Short Films

Hollywood Disections – Sat 8
juke-01Juke – Passages From The Films of Spencer WilliamsThe career of African American actor, director and scriptwriter Spencer Williams re-enacted in a plotless montage film.
London Calling – Thu 13, Fri 14
pregnant-pause-01Pregnant PausePee. Wait. Panic. Steph is in a happy, long-term relationship, but now that she might be pregnant she has no idea what she wants.
we-love-moses-01We Love MosesTwelve-year-old Ella’s obsession with her brother’s best friend lands her with a potent secret.
Love in a Void – Wed 5, Fri 7
nkosi_coiffure_2Nkosi CoiffureEva escapes her boyfriend on the street of Brussels’ Congolese neighbourhood. She finds solace in an afro hair salon. Initially, at least.
New Kind of Kick – Fri 7, Sat 8
best-last-best-plane-ride-ever-01The Best Last Best Plane Ride EverOctober, 1986. The NY Mets beat the Houston Astros. This animation recreates their post-game airplane celebration: three hours of unbridled chaos.
Returning and Repressing – Sun 9
ears-nose-and-throat-01Ears, Nose and ThroatWhile under a medical examination, a modest woman unburdens her traumatic witnessing of the shooting of a man by his friend.
liliesleaf-farm-mayibuye-01 Liliesleaf Farm Mayibuye: In Search of the Spectres of HistoryUsing double screen, the filmmaker juxtaposes her domestic family history with that of Nelson Mandela prior to his arrest.
on-a-wing-and-a-prayer-01On a Wing and a PrayerA recreation of the 31-mile walk of refugee Abdul Rahman Haroun through the Eurotunnel, only for him to be arrested under an arcane Victorian railway law.
reluctantly-queer-01Reluctantly QueerA young Ghanaian man confesses his confusion around his sexuality and his desire to please his mother.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination – Wed 12
girl-who-danced-with-the-devil-01The Girl Who Danced With the Devil (A moça que dançou com o Diabo) A girl from a very religious family seeks her own paradise.
Teen Creeps – Thu 6, Thu 13
crystal-lake-01Crystal LakeA group of young girls take over a skate park. There, on the reclaimed ramp and with no boys around, they thrive.
send-off-01The Send-OffEmboldened by a giant block party on the evening of their high school prom, a group of students enter the night with hope for the future.
The Past is the Present Too – Fri 14
sea-is-history-01The 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.

Events & Talks

  1. Black Mirror Preview
  2. Lynette Wallworth

BFI Flare Film Festival 2015 | Afrocentric films

A selection of afrocentric films at this years BFI Flare Film Festival which opens on Thursday. Here are our selections for the festival.

Including Kenyan film, ‘Stories of Our Lives‘ which gets its UK Premiere at the festival but sadly is already sold out.

Mo’Nique returns to the big screen in her first film since winning an Oscar for ‘Precious‘ in ‘Blackbird‘ a story based on Larry Duplechan’s Novel of the same title, with the films screeplay written by Brit Rikki Beadle-Blair.

The Starlite, one of New York’s pre-Stonewall gay bars – a black-owned and operated influential dance club, is celebrated in, ‘We Came To Sweat‘. Some of the disco sound originated at the bar, which is now under the threat of redevelopment.

Plus there’s another chance to see French film, ‘Girlhood‘ and the hottest black film in years, ‘Dear White People‘ as with its London Film Festival outing last year the tickets sold out within an hour.

The festival closes with the documentary, ‘Out To Win‘, looking at the experience of LGBT sportspeople working in professional sport, with contributions from Brit John Amaechi, and remembering Justin Fashanu.


19-29 March 2015.
50 feature films and over 100 short films. BFI Southbank.


Download the film Schedule here.


FEATURE FILMS


Blackbird

A gay boy in a deeply conservative Southern US town deals with the traumas of religious prejudice and coming out.

blackbird-002“Based on a 1986 Larry Duplechan novel, transposed to a Mississippi small town. Randy, a young black man, is wrestling unsuccessfully with his burgeoning sexuality. A member of his church choir, he has a tight cohort of school friends who seem more aware than he is of his sexuality. Meanwhile, at home Randy has to contend with his deeply religious mother (actress Mo’Nique from Precious), grief-stricken since his sister was mysteriously abducted. An unexpected encounter with a young actor and filmmaker changes things for Randy, but nothing runs that smoothly in this ripely melodramatic, emotionally engaging coming-of-age story, replete with plenty of sharp one-liners.” BFI

  • Mar 21, 2015 8:45 PM
  • Mar 23, 2015 1:50 PM

Girlhood Bande de filles

Céline Sciamma’s triumphant film explores of a young girl’s search for identity in the underprivileged suburbs of Paris.

girlhood-002“Céline Sciamma (Waterlilies and Tomboy) returns with this glorious coming of age drama about a quartet of young black girls growing up in the working class outskirts of Paris. Marieme is the eldest daughter of a single mother who works nights, leaving her with full responsibility for her younger sisters and an older brother so authoritarian that his behaviour borders on the abusive. At first a lonely, solitary figure among the young girls on her estate, Marieme is soon adopted by a sassy group, and the quartet find strength and power together in a community where rough boys dominate. Less overtly ‘L, B, or T’ than her previous work, Sciamma’s Girlhood is a nuanced examination of female friendship, gender dynamics and identity. Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ provides the backdrop to one of the year’s most electrifying, joyful scenes: ‘eye to eye, so alive, we’re like diamonds in the sky…’.” BFI

  • Mar 23, 2015 8:40 PM
  • Mar 24, 2015 3:50 PM

Dear White People

The diversification of an all-black residence hall forces a group of African-American university students to take a stand.

dear-white-people-002“Sam White is frustrated. Everywhere she looks, she finds racial inequality and coded aggression at her elite university. Her radio show is rubbing people up the wrong way and her ex-boyfriend, the tormented son of the school’s dean, is her opponent in a student election campaign she thinks she will never win. When she does, Sam is forced to face the true complexity of the racial politics she espouses; a complexity that Lionel Higgins, a gay writer casually ridiculed by the black student union Sam runs, is already facing.” BFI

  • Mar 24, 2015 8:40 PM
  • Mar 25, 2015 3:50 PM
  • Mar 28, 2015 1:30 PM

We Came to Sweat

Over 50 years of gay, black American heritage is at stake when this pre-Stonewall Brooklyn bar is threatened by redevelopment.

we-came-to-sweat-001“When a Brooklyn landmark, the black-owned and operated Starlite, is threatened with eviction by new landlords, its 50-year history as a pre-Stonewall gay bar and dance club is in peril. This film is a history of the club, its patrons and its staff, many of whom are also deserving of national treasure status. It’s not just in London that gentrification and rising property prices tempt landlords to sell to developers in the hope of making a fast buck. The community rallies around in protest, but is it enough? The history of the Starlite and its importance to the black gay community as a privileged space is underlined by the rich testimony from elders and family members for whom the venue is simply a part of their life. With a rich soundtrack of great music, reflecting the club’s influence on the creation of disco, the film is a warning to anyone who thinks their favourite gay bar is a permanent fixture.” BFI

  • Mar 24, 2015 8:50 PM
  • Mar 26, 2015 6:10 PM
  • Mar 27, 2015 6:10 PM

Stories of Our Lives

A visually stunning and tenderly wrought collection of stories about LGBTI lives in Kenya.

stories-of-our-lives-003“Two young women are in trouble for their ‘peculiar’ relationship; a farm hand is tormented when his crush begins courting a woman; a young DVD seller is intoxicated by the smoke and sounds of a clandestine gay bar. These are among the tales featured in this beautifully rendered collection of narratives from LGBTI Kenyans. Stories of Our Lives started out as an archival project by the multi-disciplinary Nest Collective, and the testimonies given have been tenderly wrought into funny, endearing – and at times heartbreaking – sketches. The quality and imagination achieved transcends the predictable but nevertheless disappointing response from the Kenyan government; after its Toronto premiere Stories of Our Lives was banned in the country for promoting homosexuality. That many of the actors are not themselves LGBT but were willing to participate at great personal risk is testament to the socially incisive and life-affirming vision of the project.” BFI

  • Mar 26, 2015 8:40 PM
  • Mar 28, 2015 11:45 AM
  • Mar 29, 2015 4:10 PM

Out to Win

Inspirational documentary charting the history of homosexuality in competitive sport, with interviewees including Martina Navratilova and Jason Collins.

out-to-win-JasonCollins1“In the competitive world of professional sports, homosexuality continues to be a big issue. So big that it seems no-one wants to talk about it. With so many athletes afraid that coming out will mark the end of their careers, there is a dearth of proud LGBT sportspeople representing the community and empowering future generations. Thankfully, some brave individuals have spoken out about their sexuality and paved the way for change. Told through the words of these pioneers, Malcolm Ingram’s inspirational documentary charts the history of homosexuality in sport, highlighting the triumphs, and indeed the tragedies, of those fearless forerunners, and profiling the victories of present day stars” BFI

  • Mar 29, 2015 6:00 PM
  • Mar 29, 2015 8:45 PM

SHORT FILMS


The View from Here | Mar 20, 2015 4:00 PM | Mar 21, 2015 11:50 AM
Whether you’re in your teens or well into adulthood, coming out can be one of the most terrifying (and perhaps most thrilling) things you’ll ever have to do, as demonstrated in this poignant collection of short films.

The Return  La Retour – A teenage boy must make sense of the world around him after he learns the truth about his older brother.

Director Yohann Kouam | France 2013 | 22 mins

Pleasures and Perils of Desire | Mar 23, 2015 4:00 PM
A rich haul of shorts about yearning for, finding, and remembering encounters of a sexual nature.

Caged  Uitgesproken – A group of friends hanging out at a sports ground discover one of their number is gay, but it seems he might not be the only one.

Director Lazlo Tonk, Dylan Tonk | The Netherlands 2013 | 13 mins

T/Here I Am | Mar 22, 2015 1:50 PM  | Mar 25, 2015 8:45 PM
Take up space, stand your ground, have no fear of not fitting in – these shorts explore what it means to be a queer body in a strange world.

Black Is Blue – A young homeless transman works as a security guard and is called to shut down a party his ex was rather enjoying.

Director Cheryl Dunye | USA 2014 | 16 mins

Dark Rivers of the Heart | Mar 27, 2015 3:50 PM | Mar 28, 2015 1:20 PM
Sinister desires become violent actions in this often disturbing programme of shorts.

Beyond Plain Sight – A seemingly charming young man hides a very dark and disturbing secret in his South London flat.

Director Joseph a. Adesunloye | UK 2014 | 13 mins

Fragile Things | Mar 29, 2015 12:45 PM
A collection of UK short films – From first encounters to break-ups, via autograph hunters, hand-jobs and a vision of Christ, this selection of homegrown narrative shorts explores infatuation and desire.

When Fragile Things Break – An explosive drama about dreams and hearts breaking.

Director Shanika Warren-Markland | UK 2013 | 7 mins

Mingmong – Annalise and Jude collect autographs together but Annalise’s mind is on other things.

Director Richard Turley | UK 2013 | 12 mins

Followers – Lynn has a vision of the face of Christ on a pair of swimming trunks.

Director Tim Marshall | UK 2014 | 12 mins