UK Black History Month 2019: 10 Film Events For October
By Empire Staff Posted 15 days ago
October sees the UK celebrating Black History Month, and there are plenty of screenings and other film events set to take part. Empire went looking for a selection that explore different aspects of life and culture, looking at the past and present of the Black experience both here and in the UK.
Here are our choices. Some events are free, others will require tickets (details below) and some are recommendations for new films arriving this month.
1) The Last Tree
Shola Amoo’s semi-autobiographical second film is the effecting, powerful story of Femi (Sam Adewunmi), who has spent a happy early childhood in foster care in the countryside. He reconnects with his biological mother (Gbemisola Ikumelo) and navigates a turbulent adolescence in inner London. Warring with his uncertain Nigerian heritage and his hopes for an independent future, the boy must find himself and understand what home really means. The film is on screens now, so seek it out – and read the Empire review here.
Now on limited release in the UK
2) The Stuart Hall Project screening
John Akomfrah’s 2013 film documents the life on Jamaican cultural theorist Stuart Hall, one of the most influential and respected intellectuals of his generation. Made entirely from Hall’s film, television, radio and photographic archives, the film is set to the music of Hall’s musical hero Miles Davis. It tells the story of how a bright young Rhodes scholar of the Windrush generation became Stuart Hall, leading cultural theorist. Hall’s search for identity as a black man in England led him to consider the historical and political factors that determine our place in society and impact on our identity, and this became his life’s work.
The screening will be followed by a discussion (panelists TBA). You can get tickets here and it’s part of a series.
11 October, Effra Space, Brixton, free
3) Do The Right Thing screening
Spike Lee’s vibrant look at a day in the life of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn swelters on screen under the hottest day of the year. A powerful portrait of urban racial tensions that feels as relevant today as it did when it was released. The film will be followed by a free, informal discussion led by radio presenter and producer Karen Gabay. Details are here. And you can also see the film on 13 October at Picturehouse Cinemas as part of our 30th Anniversary celebration. See those details right here, and check out other screenings.
21 October, HOME, Manchester
4) Hitsville: The Making Of Motown
If you’re after more music in your life, we suggest this documentary, which focuses on the period beginning with the birth of Motown in Detroit in 1958 until its relocation to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. The film tracks the unique system that Gordy assembled that enabled Motown to become the most successful record label of all time. The creation and initial success of Motown was achieved during a period of significant racial tensions in America and amid the burgeoning civil rights movement.
4 October, on general release
5) The Help screening
Tate Taylor’s 2011 film adapted Kathryn Stockett’s novel about the house staff working in the American South as the Civil Rights movement began to make an impact. It was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, while Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain were both nominated, and Octavia Spencer took home the Supporting Actress award. Get the info here for the full programme.
17 October Dalhousie Lecture Theatre, Dundee, free
Game Of Thrones and The Fix veteran Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje writes, directs and appears in this story based on his own life. A coming-of-age film unlike any other, it is a painful but moving look at what this experiment meant to a London-born child whose Yorubá parents voluntarily gave him to a white working-class family, thinking they were giving him the opportunity for a better life.
Enitan’s (Damson Idris) upbringing is a rollercoaster ride that ends up out of control. Living with a half-dozen other children in his new foster home, the young boy drifts off into a world of fantasy in an effort to cope but, of course, he is rudely awakened by reality. A brief move back to Nigeria, where he can’t speak his parents’ native tongue, offers no asylum. Sent back to England, he is desperate to fit in, to meet with society’s approval. This takes him on the most mind-bending of trips during which he joins a white, Clockwork Orange–like skinhead gang led by a racist psychopath, and finds himself beating up on his own kind. These moments are the most disturbing and troubling, as this once-sensitive, contemplative adolescent turns into a violent menace.
11 October, On limited release
7) Claudine screening
Claudine (Diahann Carroll) supports herself and her six children by working secretly as a maid, whilst garbage collector Roop attempts to win her affections and earn the trust of her children. Curtis Mayfield wrote and produced the film’s score and soundtrack, the vocals for which are performed by Gladys Knight & the Pips. The soundtrack for Claudine was released on Buddah Records, the group’s record label, and ‘On & On’, the film’s theme song, was a top 5 hit for Knight and the Pips on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart in 1974. All the details are here and you can also book for other events.
2 October, Phoenix cinema, Leicester
8) The Last Black Man In San Francisco
Joe Talbot’s debut film has already won acclaim at festivals. Jimmie (Jimmie Falls, playing a version of himself) and his best friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) try to reclaim the house built by Jimmie’s grandfather, launching them on a poignant odyssey that connects them to their past, even as it tests their friendship and sense of belonging in the place they call home.
Watch the trailer below.
25 October, on general release
9) Sorry To Bother You screening
Boots Riley’s 2018 satire didn’t get nearly enough love from audiences on either side of the pond, so here’s a chance to see it for free and discovery the clever madness that lies within. LaKeith Stanfield plays Cassius Green, who works in an alternate reality version of Oakland as a telemarketer, and finds it a struggle as a black man selling to predominately white people over the phone. That changes when someone he works with suggests he use his “white voice,” to make himself more appealing to customers.
Strangely, this works, and with a bizarrely high-pitched accent, Cassius becomes a success. As his colleagues form a union to improve their miserable jobs, he finds himself promoted a Power Caller, selling immoral but lucrative products and services as he becomes more and more removed from his world. Tickets are free, and more information is here and the Empire review is here.
2 October, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, free
10) 500 Years Later screening
500 Years Later is an epic multi-award-winning documentary directed by Owen ‘Alik Shahadah. Filmed in more than 20 countries and on five continents, 500 Years Later is a compelling journey, infused with the spirit and music of liberation, that chronicles the struggle of a people from enslavement who continue to fight for the most essential human right – freedom.
The screening is free, and you can register for it here.
2 October, Francis Crick Institute, London, free
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