An appreciation for the future

Jamie Garwood

Talking Pictures alias






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‘This season is an opportunity to celebrate and campaign for a greater appreciation of black cinema from around the world.  To have a fresh look at the past and present while being able to nurture the new and innovative’, said Amanda Nevill, director of the British Film Institute (bfi).

‘It’s been in the pipeline really for a few years, but from the ground up it has taken six months,’ says Mike Pearson, the Head of Press and Public Affairs for the bfi.

And it is the bfi that is spearheading this six month programme of appreciation and recognition.  As someone said this evening there is already a black cinema to watch, the role of this season that runs from June to November of this year - and takes in African film tours, short season, master classes, debates and music experiences - is to make cinema of the African Diaspora available to a new audience of youth and people who would not ordinarily be able to view such films.  

As a criticism there has for too long been a lack of critical and general attention paid to black Diaspora, here the opportunity of retrospectives of renowned directors; fresh, new work in the form of a touring short season; the role of women in African cinema and a look at black music in the history of British television.

 There are four key achievements the bfi wish for the season to accomplish:

  I. Recognise the contribution of black cinema to the moving image;
  II. Make available more access to the world of black creativity;
  III. Engage with new black and youth audiences;
  IV. Realise how black film continues to inspire new film-makers.
This has been an impressive group effort put on by the bfi that has involved collaborating with up to 30 media partners (seasons at the Barbican), three new DVD releases, patrons ranging from Spike Lee to June Sarpong, producing a supplement in the July edition of Sight and Sound, special previews, educational seminars and multimedia experiences.

What came across at their press launch is that the amount of effort put in should warrant positive results and coverage of this season will only grow once the website becomes active as of now at, but as one source said the problem has and always be that not a lot of people know about the bfi’s intentions and would usually treat with some disdain or see it as jumping on some appeasing bandwagon.  

However, when you see the people involved and the amount of enthusiasm and energy they have for a project of this scope and size you cannot help but feel motivated to tell others about it and spread the message of expectancy.  Kudos should especially be put to Gylene Gould, the programmer of the season, whose confidence and exuberance was a real positive factor to the evening.

But for all the hard work and group effort elaborated on in the brief talks given this evening, now starts the hard work for the bfi, in being able to spread the message and increase the level of attention given to the event.  While tonight was just a launch night, the real sense of community and passion for this event must be spread around.  The Blackworld is already here, now we have to embrace it.


Thursday 2nd June
BAADASSSSS!  (Mario Van Peebles, US, 2004)
The launch of Blackworld coincides with a revolutionary six-city simultaneous preview screening of Marion Van Peebles’ movie chronicling the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, the film that catapulted blaxploitation cinema into the mainstream, which was directed by his father Melvin.
The film will be screened at the same time in venues across the nation in London, National Film Theatre(NFT); Watershed, Bristol; UGC’s in Birmingham and Glasgow; Cornerhouse, Manchester and Chapter Arts, Cardiff.
The film will go on release by bfi distribution at 14 nationwide venues on Friday 14th June.

3rd - 30th June
‘The Father of African cinema’
Paying tribute to the 82 year old Senegalese film director, the National Film Theatre hosts a major retrospective starting 3 June.
 The retrospective spans four decades of Sembene’s work and includes an exclusive two week run of his award winning film Moolaade which has screened at American film festivals and was named as one of the top 10 films of the year by Film Comment, New York’s leading film magazine.
There will also be a Guardian Interview with Sembene on Sunday 5 June at 4pm in NFT1.

Touring Season (June-October)
Blackworld with African Film Tour presents this new touring programme highlighting some of the best African female talent both behind and in front of the camera.  Comprised of features, documentaries and shorts the tour will be available to cinemas nationwide, details of which can be found on the website.

Touring Season (September-November)

This programme will host features and shorts that reflect new developments and aesthetics of an African diaspora, selected from a wide range of diverse and eclectic talents the work featured will cover work from North and South America, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa.  
One highlight is the work of Kara Miller’s short Elephant Palm Tree.
Friday 22 July 2005
DJ Spooky: Rebirth of a Nation - UK Premiere
Teaming up with Optronica, Blackworld presents the live UK premiere of DJ Spooky’s innovative multimedia event.
DJ spooky combines segments of D. W. Griffith’s 1915 classic, playing on Griffith’s revolutionary editing techniques and contemporary music mixing.
 No two shows are the same when manned by the New York DJ, this promises to be one of the most hotly anticipated and exhilarating events of Blackworld.

From June to November, Black World at the NFT will be hosting an in-depth programme of Black music on British television.  The music genre’s are Hip Hop & Rap (June); Soul to Funk (July); Calypso, Ska, Reggae & Two Tone (August); Jazz (September) and Blues (October).  From where black music is now to where it all began, along with introductions and Q&A by industry veterans.
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