The BFI is the place to be this weekend! Four black British feature films, short films, and a symposium!
The inaugural SOUL Fest is a two-day celebration of black British talent in film, allowing audiences the opportunity to see a diverse representation of black Britain.
Full details of the festival can be found online: SOUL Fest .
Friday 30 August 2019
18:10 Farming + Q&A with director Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Six-week-old Enitan is left in the care of a white working-class family in Tilbury, Essex, but his surrogate mother (Kate Beckinsale) makes for a complex foster parent. Unsure of his place in the world, teenage Enitan (Damson Idris) falls in with a skinhead gang. Based on his own life story, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Farming charts the extraordinary journey of a young fostered Nigerian boy in 1980s England.
UK 2018. Dir Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Damson Idris, Jaime Winstone. 107min
The unique SOUL Fest Symposium brings together a group of leading thinkers from Britain’s diverse communities to consider the role and responsibility of filmmakers with regards to the representation of diversity on screen. The symposium will also feature a presentation of some of the best short films by emerging BAME talent, exploring an eclectic range of tales touching on the Black British experience.
15:30 Nine Nights + Q&A with director Veronica McKenzie and actors Malcolm Atobrah and Mary Nyambura
Marcie and Mickey Haines are 16-year-old athletic twins. They’re inseparable, leaving their mother, Leonore, feeling excluded. On the day of an important race for Marcie, Michael is hit by a car and killed. The next morning she wakes to find the house full of mourners, talking about Michael in the past tense.
UK 2018. Dir Veronica McKenzie. Cast: Mary Nyambura, Malcolm Atobrah, Jo Martin, Elizabeth Brace. 99min
Directed by Shola Amoo, The Last Tree is the semi-autobiographical story of Femi (played by young newcomer Tai Golding), a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after being fostered in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner-city London to live with his birth mother. In his teens, Femi (Sam Adewunmi) struggles with the culture and values of his new environment. He must decide which path to adulthood he wants to take and find out what it means to be a young black man in London during the early 00s.
UK 2019. Dir Shola Amoo. Cast: Sam Adewunmi, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Denise Black, Tai Golding, Nicholas Pinnock. 99min
Award-winning writer-director Julius Amedume’s neo-noir psychological thriller is based on a play by Graham Farrow. Robert McQueen’s typical day takes a turn for the worse when he’s ambushed by three masked men who accuse him of sleeping with their wives. Robert pleads his innocence, but reveals something that will change his captors’ lives forever – is it enough to save his own life, though?
UK-USA 2019. Dir Julius Amedume. Cast: Jimmy Jean-Louis, Jack Coleman, Kathleen McClellan. 85min
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.