Monday, 24 October 2016

BFI BLACK STAR season to span the UK

The Fabulous Nicholas Brothers
Over 275 events will take place at more than 70 locations across the UK as part of the BFI’s BLACK STAR season, which champions the achievements of black stars from the earliest years of cinema through to the present day, whilst exploring why opportunities to shine on screen have been historically limited for black actors.

The BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN) has revealed details of he events and screenings taking place across the UK. They include presentations of Stir Crazy in Belfast’s nineteenth century Crumlin Road Gaol, a drive-in screening of Blade in Bromsgrove, a Stormy Weather jive party in the Blackpool Winter Gardens, a Purple Rain Jam of the Year in Colston Hall in Bristol and a tour around Wales by The Proud Valley, complete with Welsh choirs performing live.

BLACK STAR will be available to audiences everywhere in the UK; in cinemas including BFI Southbank, on BBC Television, on DVD/Blu-ray and online via BFI Player.

Ben Luxford, head of UK wide audiences at the BFI, said: FAN are a key partner for BFI BLACK STAR, bring big, bold and brilliant film events and screenings to audiences in every nation of the UK. Not only is BLACK STAR timely and important, it’ll also be fun and accessible, mixing traditional cinema screenings with house party weekenders in Bristol, a screening of Car Wash in a Sheffield Car Wash, and even a trip to jail with Richard Prior in Belfast. We’re eager to get going and bring BLACK STAR to new audiences all over the UK, giving them the chance to watch some classics and seek out many new discoveries.”

Highlights of the BLACK STAR programme
Picturehouse Cinemas presents: The Fabulous Nicholas Brothers (various locations and dates)
The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold, were considered to be among the greatest dancers of the 20th century, boasting fans from Gene Kelly and Bob Fosse to Mikhail Baryshnikov and Michael Jackson, who once had Fayard as a dance coach. The nationwide tour takes place at over 15 venues. The event will feature an compilation tribute hosted by Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming at Film Forum in New York, who produced a 1991 documentary on the brothers. The tour is a collage of home movies, photographs and film clips, and features routines in films such as Down Argentine WaySun Valley and Serenade. Supporting the tour will be screenings of a newly restored 4K DCP print of Stormy Weather (Andrew L Stone, 1943), in which the brothers starred in alongside Lena Horne, and features a dance sequence which Fred Astaire.

Picturehouse Cinemas presents: Sister Act Sing-a-long (various locations – Sunday 6 November)
Eighteen cinemas will screen an audience participation screenings of the classic comedy Sister Act (Emile Ardolino, 1992) starring Whoopi Goldberg in their regular Vintage Sundays strand on Sunday 6 November. Audience members will be encouraged to dress up and join in singing along to the fantastic soundtrack which includes ‘Rescue Me’, ‘Hail Holy Queen’, ‘My Guy, My God’ and ‘I Will Follow Him’.

Boys in the Hood
Norman Jay (Tour, various locations and dates)
Live Cinema UK and Film Hub North will present a UK-wide film and music tour with DJ Norman Jay MBE. The tour will present screenings of some of his favourite films including Boyz in the Hood (John Singleton, 1991), In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967), Shaft (Gordon Parks, 1971) and To Sir, With Love (James Clavell, 1967). The events take place in London (28 Oct), Bristol (13 Nov), Leeds (10 Nov), Exeter (17 Nov) and Manchester (30 Nov).

East Midlands and East of England:
Presented by Film Hub Central East, led by Broadway, Nottingham

Music Hall of Fame, Broadway Nottingham (throughout November)
Broadway Nottingham will screen a selection of films with a music theme that connect with the rich, diverse music culture of Nottingham. There screenings of Boyz in the Hood (John Singleton, 1991), Mo’ Better Blues (Spike Lee, 1990), The Wiz (Sidney Lumet, 1979), Car Wash (Michael Schultz, 1976), Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954) and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (Bill Duke, 1993). Each event will focus on a different musical genre including Jazz, Hip Hop, Funk and Gospel, and will include live music after the screening.

Filmhouse Reggae Night, Errol Flynn Filmhouse Northampton (throughout November)
On Saturday 5 November, the Errol Flynn Filmhouse will host a reggae night with guest DJs in their underground studio and a screening of The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell, 1972), starring reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. Also screening in November will be other music-related films including The Bodyguard (Mick Jackson, 1992), Dreamgirls (Bill Condon, 2006) and Purple Rain (Albert Magnoli, 1984). 

Presented by Film Hub London, led by Film London

A Celebration of Black Cinema, Genesis Cinema (throughout November)
The Genesis Cinema in Stepney Green will run two strands of programming as part of BLACK STAR: ICONS will feature cult and classic film and TV from around the world. The New School will celebrate emerging British and worldwide youth talent in the field of screen performance. Highlights of the programme include a Pam Grier double bill of Coffy (Jack Hill, 1973) and Foxy Brown (Jack Hill, 1974), a Nia Long double bill of Love Jones (Theodore Witcher, 1997) and The Best Man (Malcolm D Lee, 1999) and screenings of the documentary Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990).

Earl Cameron in conversation (BFI Southbank – Sunday 23 October)
The actor Earl Cameron CBE, acknowledged by many as one of the first African Caribbean screen actors to break the colour bar in the UK, will be the first person inducted in the Screen Nation Hall of Frame. Cameron has had a career spanning over 70 years, starring in over 90 films and TV productions, including the Ealing Studios thriller Pool of London (Basil Deardon, 1951).

Pool of London
A Season Celebrating Black Stars (Deptford Cinema – until December 3)
The Deptford Cinema will celebrate the success and acclaim of black stars including Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967), Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball (Marc Forster, 2001) and Denzel Washington in Devil in a Blue Dress (Carl Franklin, 1995).

Northern Ireland:
Presented by Film Hub Northern Ireland, led by Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast

Black Star, Queens Film Theatre Belfast (until the end of December)
Queens Film Theatre in Belfast will feature three strands as part of its BLACK STAR programming: All About Forest will be a focus on the award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, featuring screenings of Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1999) and The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald, 2006); Music Icons will be a season of a great music films with iconic performances while Wild Styles will be a day of classic Hip Hop with DJs and performances in the QFT bar.

Belfast Film Festival (October and November)
BLACK STAR screenings will include a presentation of Stir Crazy (Sidney Poitier, 1990), starring Richard Pryor, in the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast on Sunday 13 November. There will be a series celebrating Black Indie Cine Stars in beanbag cinema on Sundays throughout October and November, featuring films such as Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1978) and Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl (1966).

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
North West of England:
Presented by Film Hub North West Central, led by HOME, Manchester. 

BLACK STAR at HOME, Manchester (Friday 28 October until the end of November)
HOME will shine a light on black British talent who went on to achieve stardom and recognition for their electrifying performances including Ashley Walters in Bullet Boy (Saul Dibb, 2004) and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sophie Okonedo in Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears, 2002). There will also be screenings of the re-releases of Boyz in the Hood (John Singleton, 1991) and In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967).

Presented by Film Hub Scotland, led by Scottish Film

Document Film Festival’s Marlon Riggs Freaky Free: Retrospective (22-23 October)
Marlon Riggs’s legacy as poet, educator, gay rights activist and filmmaker will be maked by a series of screenings alongside creative poetic responses. His documentary Tongues Untied (1989) uses personal testimony, rap and performance to describe the homophobia and racism that confront gay men. Black is… Black Ain’t (1994), Riggs’ final film, explores the much-debated subject of black identity as well as his own quest for self-definition and community as he neared the end of his life.

Glasgow Women’s Library Celebrating Black On Screen Talent – various dates
Celebrating Black On Screen Talent invites audiences to watch and discuss with black female cultural figures films that have been intentionally selected for a wide audience: Akeeelah and the Bee (Doug Atchison, 2006), screening on Saturday 29 October, is a drama focusing on an 11-year-old’s struggle to overcome her insecurities; The Colour Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985), screening on Tuesday 15 November, highlights the tale of an African-American woman who survives incredible abuse and bigotry; and Belle (Amma Asante, 2013), screening on Thursday 8 December, is inspired by the true story of an illegitimate mixed race daughter raised by the aristocrat that put an end to slavery in England.

Bullet Boy

Africa in Motion’s Nollywood Nights – 6 November
The Nollywood Nights strand, part of Africa in Motion Film Festival, offers the latest work from three of Nigeria’s most popular directors. The Champagne Room (Olumide Fadeyibi, 2016) is a Scottish/Nigerian co-production bringing together stories and real life experiences of domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking. A red carpet double bill, to be held at the Corinthian Club in Glasgow, starts with The Road to Yesterday (Ishaya Bako, 2015), a drama a couple’s troubled relationship. Kunle Afolayan’s pan-African drama The CEO (2016) sees five top-level employees vie to out-do one another in a bid to be selected for a top job.

South West and West Midlands:
Presented by Film Hub South West & West Midlands, led by Watershed, Bristol

Purple Rain Jam of the Year at Colston Hall (Sunday 13 November)
Prince’s quasi-autobiographical Purple Rain (Albert Magnoli, 1984) will be followed by a DJ set from DJ Norman Jay in the venue’s foyer.

Black Comedy House Party at Trinity Community Arts Bristol (Friday 4 November)
Come the Revolution will host a Black Comedy House Party double bill on Friday 4 November at Bristol’s Trinity Centre. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (Keenen Ivory Wayans, 1988) and Coming to America (John Landis, 1988) will be screened before a 90s-themed music night hosted by several Bristol DJs.

Horror at the Drive-in, Artrix Bromsgrove (Sunday 30 October)
This Halloween Artrix in Bromsgrove will host a drive-in screening of Blade (Stephen Norrington, 1998), starring Wesley Snipes. Blade is one of the few titles in the Marvel universe to feature a leading black superhero. It stars Snipes as a half-mortal, half-vampire who fights to protect humans from sinister forces. Audiences are invited to dress up for an immersive horror experience offering guaranteed goosebumps.

BLACK STAR at mac Birmingham (Wednesday 26 October – Friday 30 December)
The Adrian Lester – Master of Contained Power Retrospective wll highlight the British actor’s career on screen and stage. It began at mac as a member of the Birmingham Youth Theatre based in the arts venue. The screenings will include films such as Primary Colours (Mike Nichols, 1998) and Jimi: All is by my Side (John Ridley, 2013).  The From Comedy to Classics season will screen films with black leads, such as Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997), Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011) and Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954).

Carmen Jones

Presented by Film Hub Wales, led by Chapter, Cardiff

Let Paul Robeson Sing! Chapter, Cardiff (Sunday 13 November and The Proud Valley tour)
Paul Robeson’s impact on Welsh life will be celebrated in Cardiff and Welsh mining communities (Pontio Bangor, Welfare Ystragynlais, Newbridge Memo, Gwyn Hall and Phoenix Community Cinema and Theatre) with screenings of The Proud Valley (Pen Tennyson, 1940), which was filmed on location in the Rhondda Valley coalfields. The screening in Cardiff, from newly re-mastered material, will be followed by a panel discussion exploring Robeson’s impact on Welsh life, politics and black communities. It will feature a performance from the Cor Cochion choir.

Yorkshire and the North East:
Presented by Film Hub North, led by Showroom, Sheffield

BLACK STAR at Sensoria, Sheffield (October – November)
The Sensoria festival of music, film and digital media will include several BLACK STAR events, including an immersive screening of Car Wash (Michael Schultz, 1976) starring Richard Pryor at a disused Sheffield car wash. Also part of Sensoria will be a focus on Blaxplotation films such as Shaft (Gordon Parks, 1971) and Cleopatra Jones (Jack Starrett, 1973). There will also be Hip Hop Pop Up Breakin Beats and Street Eats on Sunday 6 November, which features screenings such as the documentary Wild Style (Charlie Ahearn, 1983).

Sidney Poitier tops poll of favourite black actors

Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier’s critically acclaimed performance as Detective Virgil Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night has been voted the public’s favourite performance by a black actor in a BFI poll which included 100 performances spanning over 80 years in film and TV.

A separate poll of over 100 industry experts voted for Angela Bassett’s Oscar-nominated performance as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It.

The polls marked the launch of the BFI’s nationwide BLACK STAR season, which champions the achievements of black stars from the earliest years of cinema through to the present day, whilst exploring why opportunities to shine on screen have been historically limited for black actors.

The public poll
In the public poll, Pam Grier followed in second place with her turn as the titular character in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, a homage to the films of the 1970s Blaxploitation era.

Michael K. Williams was number three with his portrayal of Omar Little, an openly gay stick-up man with a strict moral code feared by drug dealers across the city of Baltimore, in the socially and politically charged hit television series The Wire.

British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor followed in fourth with his visceral portrayal of Solomon Northup, his break-out performance in Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning true story, 12 Years A Slave.

Morgan Freeman rounded out the top five with his acclaimed, quiet and layered performance in Frank Darabont’s Oscar-nominated prison drama The Shawshank Redemption.

The Top 10 Favourite Black Star Performances voted by the public:
  1. Sidney Poitier - In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  2. Pam Grier - Jackie Brown (1997)
  3. Michael K Williams - The Wire (2002-2008)
  4. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave (2013)
  5. Morgan Freeman - The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  6. Samuel L. Jackson - Pulp Fiction (1994)
  7. Denzel Washington - Malcolm X (1992)
  8. Whoopi Goldberg  - The Color Purple (1985)
  9. Angela Bassett - What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993)
  10. Sidney Poitier - Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
Ashley Clark, BFI Black Star season programmer, said: “Sidney Poitier’s iconic performance lights up a thrilling film, the scalding power of which hasn’t dimmed in the near half-century since it was released. In his own inimitable way, Poitier imbues Mister Tibbs with poise, power and endless reserves of dignity. He takes the high road when others choose to go low, but stands for no nonsense either. Tibbs is as much of a hero for our times as he was for his, and the results of this poll only confirm that fact.”

In the Heat of the Night, which will be re-released by Park Circus from 18 November in select cinemas across the UK as part of the BFI’s BLACK STAR season. It won five Oscars in 1968, including Best Picture, Best Actor (for Rod Steiger), Best Screenplay and Best Editing. Directed by Norman Jewison, the film is a murder mystery that plays as an insightful in its reflection of the racist aspects of American society at the time.

One of the key reasons for the film’s success was Poitier’s charismatic performance as Philadelphia homicide detective Virgil Tibbs, who arrives in a small Southern backwater to visit his mother but becomes embroiled in a murder investigation after he is picked up by the local police simply for the ‘crime’ of being black. He ends up teaming up with, and challenging, the local sheriff played by Rod Steiger.

Over 100 industry experts, including film critics, film festival programmers, filmmakers, actors and cultural experts shortlisted the performances, while the ultimate winner was decided by the public. The results have been published in full online. 

Pam Grier
The industry poll
The industry experts who voted from the shortlist for their Top 10 Favourite Black Star Performances gave the op spot to Angela Bassett’s performance as Tina Turner in Brian Gibson’s What’s Love Got to Do with It.

The Top 10 Favourite Black Star Performances voted by industry experts:
  1. Angela Bassett - What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993)
  2. Pam Grier - Jackie Brown (1997)
  3. Sidney Poitier - In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  4. Denzel Washington - Malcolm X (1992)
  5. Whoopi Goldberg - The Color Purple (1985)
  6. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave (2013)
  7. Juanita Moore - Imitation of Life (1959)
  8. Dorothy Dandridge - Carmen Jones (1954)
  9. Marianne Jean-Baptiste - Secrets and Lies, 1997)
  10. Danny Glover - To Sleep with Anger (1990)
The results were on BBC Radio 4’s The Film Programme by BLACK STAR programmer Ashley Clark, who said: “Topping the critics' poll is Angela Bassett who, as Tina Turner in the searing biopic What's Love Got to Do with It, gave a performance for the age. She was vigorous, vulnerable and vivacious.”

The poll results for the top 10 Favourite Black British Star Performances will be announced the week of 7 November.

BLACK STAR will be available to audiences across the UK via cinemas, on BBC Television, on BFI DVD/Blu-ray and online via BFI Player until 31 December. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Celebrating Brighton's pioneering film spirit

8mm Zoom Reflex camera by Bolex Paillard, 1963
Unknown to many, the coastal resorts of Brighton and Hove played an important part in international film history. Early film-making pioneers including George Albert Smith and James Williamson, who became known as the Brighton School and worked here at the turn of the 20th century.

Modern and contemporary filmmakers and moving image artists such as Jeff Keen, Ben Wheatley and Ben Rivers have helped the city maintain its status as a hotbed of experimental film.

The story of experimental film-making in Brighton & Hove from 1896 to the present day will be told in a new display at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Experimental Motion: The art of film innovation will explore Brighton & Hove’s success as a place for experimental film-making, and its significance nationally and internationally.

The exhibition runs from 22 October to 4 June 2017.

Suzie Plumb, Royal Pavilion & Museums (RPM)’s curator of Film, Media and Toys, said: “Over the past 120 years this city has seen highly influential work produced by its filmmakers. These experimental films have moved the language of cinema and art forward internationally, yet the story is little known. Through looking at filmmaking techniques, such as editing, visual trickery and illusion, Experimental Motion will highlight the impact of these films on the development of the moving image. We’ll exhibit objects from as long ago as 1896 from the city’s extensive Film & Media collections, alongside films by the Brighton School, work by Modern and contemporary filmmakers and objects and work by moving image artists.”

Highlights will include rare objects from the history of film-making in Brighton & Hove, such as ground-breaking cameras made in the city. These include an 1896 experimental cine camera, the world’s first amateur film camera from 1899, and a 1900 special effects cine camera for reverse motion and close-ups – all made by Alfred Darling & Sons of Brighton. A camera for the world’s first commercially viable colour cine film process, developed by George Albert Smith of Hove and made by Moy & Bastie in 1910, will also be displayed, alongside diverse ephemera relating to the Brighton School and objects from the history of cinema.

There will be films by the avant-garde director Jeff Keen (1923-2012), who was based in Brighton and began to make an impact with Dada-influenced work in the 1950s. His references included his experiences serving in World War II, popular culture and characters inspired by his family and friends, and he was an early proponent of montage, long shots and the use of multiple screens. His film is also characterised by his innovative techniques of scratching, painting and superimposing differing sets of images, and his use of visual props.

A digital exploration of work by feature filmmakers such as Brighton resident Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, High-Rise, Down Terrace, A Field in England), who experiment with editing technique, equipment and simultaneous multi-platform release (cinema, home media, video on demand, TV). 

Ben Rivers, a leading contemporary artist-filmmaker, co-founded the Brighton Cinematheque in 1996, examples of whose work have recently been acquired by the city with assistance from the Contemporary Art Society. Rivers interweaves documentary and fiction and works in 16mm film. The museum will display Ah, Liberty! and The Bomb with a Man in his Shoe.

There will be screenings of:
  • Work made in Brighton by amateur filmmakers and held within the collections of Screen Archive South East, which highlight the city as an inspiration for filmmaking.
  • Film by artists David Blandy and Larry Achiampong, who work with the image in the digital world, including anime and the narrative sections of computer games.     
  • Work by Brighton-based Ian Helliwell, a multi-media audio-visual artist who experiments with sound and moving image.
  • Immersive, interactive media-based projects by Brighton artist group Blast Theory  
  • Work by Semi-Conductor, Brighton-based contemporary art duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, who are interested in how we experience the material world through the lens of science and technology.
  • Contemporary work by Tula Parker & Anna Weatherston.
There will also be a call for filmmakers to submit their own short films to be shown at a series of screening events, and presented online during the exhibition. And RPM’s Museum Collective, a group of young people working with filmmaker Lindsey Smith, are developing new creative work that responds to the theme of experimental film-making to be shown in the exhibition. 

“Two important aims are to open up our film and media collections to new audiences, and to show their significance in the history of moving image,” said Suzie Plumb. “We’ll be part of CineCity film festival in November, with some extra screenings, talks and events throughout the festival around the theme of experimental filmmaking in the city.”

The display is part of RPM’s John Ellerman Foundation-funded project ‘Film Pioneers’, which aims to enable staff at the museum to research, display and document the city’s Film & Media collections. This includes the Experimental Motion display and a full review of the collection to further explore its international significance and how the museum might enhance its use, as well as ensuring that the collection is fully accessible to the public online. The project will work in partnership with Screen Archive South East at the University of Brighton, Videoclub, the British Film Institute, Lighthouse and The British Library.

One strand of Film Pioneers, funded by Arts Council England and curated by Jamie Wyld, will see Hong Kong-based new media artist Choi Sai-Ho take up temporary residence at the museum to work with the city’s Film & Media collections and those of Screen Archive South East. Sai-Ho’s work experiments with sound and visual imagery to present his ideas, and while here he will be drawing inspirations from Brighton & Hove’s filmmakers as well as the city itself.

Another project strand will enable skills-development and sharing for professionals working with film and media collections across the South East.