BLACK STAR SEASON at BFI Southbank: The British Film Institute today announces new BLACK STAR events including In Conversations with Danny Glover and Sir Lenny Henry, B’DAY: A Beyoncé Symposium and a reunion of the cast and crew of Desmond’s
Plus: Christmas classics for all the family and Adam and Joe reunite for a special live show.
FURTHER ONSTAGE APPEARANCES INCLUDE:
Actors Toby Jones, Carmen Munroe, Zawe Ashton, Ashley Walters, Directors John Pilger, Isaac Julien.
- SAT 17 DEC, 18:00 – SPECIAL EVENT: Danny Glover in Conversation
- FRI 16 DEC, 18:10 – SCREENING + Q&A: To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990) + Q&A with actor Danny Glover
- TUE 13 DEC, 20:30 – SPECIAL EVENT: Sir Lenny Henry in Conversation
- SUN 11 DEC, 15:00 – SPECIAL EVENTS: Desmond’s ‘French Lessons’ (1989) + Desmond’s Reunion: with creator-writer Trix Worrell, producer-director Charlie Hanson and actors Carmen Munroe, Ram John Holder and Robbie Gee
- SUN 18 DEC, 20:15 – SPECIAL EVENT: Black Stars of British TV a discussion with actors Carmen Munroe, Don Warrington, Zawe Ashton and Ashley Walters, director Isaac Julien and co-founder of Sugar Films Pat Younge
- MON 5 DEC, 19:00 – SONIC CINEMA PRESENTS – WORLD PREMIERE WITH NEWLY COMMISSIONED LIVE SCORE: Body and Soul (Oscar Micheaux, 1925) with live score by London-based jazz composer and musician Peter Edwards and the Nu Civilisation Ensemble
- SUN 11 DEC, 13:00 – TALK: B’DAY: A Beyoncé Symposium
- WED 14 DEC, 18:30 – SPECIAL BFI IMAX SCREENING: Attack the Block (2011) + intro by director Joe Cornish
- MON 5 DEC, 18:30 – TALK: Black Star Stories: The Comedians
- THU 1 DEC, 18:10 – TALK: Dark & Lovely: Black Beauty in Cinema
- SAT 17 DEC, 14:00 – AFRICAN ODYSSEYS PREVIEW: Chocolat (Roschdy Zem, 2015) + discussion
BLACK STAR, the UK’s largest ever celebration of black on-screen talent continues throughout December, with a thrilling range of work from both sides of the Atlantic. This landmark film season at BFI Southbank, programmed by Ashley Clark and running until 31 December, is themed to enable audiences to easily explore different areas of black stardom. Black British Trailblazers highlights the pioneering contribution of black actors to UK film and television, from much-loved stalwarts Norman Beaton and Carmen Munroe to contemporary stars like John Boyega and the legendary Sir Lenny Henry, who will join us In Conversation on Tuesday 13 December. The laughs will come thick and fast with US comedy legends Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg, while the late, great Whitney Houston will be re-examined as a screen icon as part of a spotlight on black love stories. There will also be focuses on black action heroes such as Will Smith and performances of major black stars in independent films such as Danny Glover in Charles Burnett’s To Sleep With Anger (1990). A screening of To Sleep With Anger on Friday 16 December will be followed by a Q&A with Danny Glover, who will also appear at BFI Southbank on Saturday 17 December for an in-depth In Conversation event looking at his remarkable career. Highlights of the December programme are:
BLACK STAR SPECIAL EVENTS AND PREVIEWS
Award-winning actor, producer and humanitarian Danny Glover will join us to discuss his screen career, as well as the philanthropic work he’s done off-screen, on Saturday 17 December. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Glover is a commanding presence on stage and screen and has brought iconic characters to life, from Murtaugh in the hugely successful Lethal Weapon franchise to his enigmatic turn in To Sleep With Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990). The screening of To Sleep With Anger on Friday 16 December will also include a Q&A with Danny Glover who will discuss one of his finest film roles, as the mysterious and disruptive stranger in Burnett’s exquisitely poised, wryly amusing drama. Glover, by this point a bona-fide star thanks to his involvement in the Lethal Weapon franchise, was instrumental in raising a large chunk of this ambitious indie’s $1.4 million budget.
Another highlight of the BLACK STAR events programme in December is the Sonic Cinema World Premiere of a new score for Oscar Micheaux’s ground-breaking drama Body and Soul (1925) starring Paul Robeson; the score, newly-commissioned by the BFI, is by London-based jazz composer and musician Peter Edwards and the Nu Civilisation Ensemble. Unmissable talks in December include Dark & Lovely: Black Beauty in Cinema and B’DAY: A Beyoncé Symposium, during which audiences can expect a day of illustrated talks, heated debates and laser-focused fangirling about Beyoncé the film star; the day will also include an extended conversation around the cinematic contexts of her self-authored visual album Lemonade.
On Tuesday 13 December BFI Southbank will host CLOSE UP: SIR LENNY HENRY, welcoming actor-writer-comedian Sir Lenny Henry to BFI Southbank to discuss his long and glittering career. Henry started out as a young stand-up, starred in Britain’s first all-black sitcom, The Fosters, the award-winning sketch show Three of A Kind and his own long-running series The Lenny Henry Show. Away from the screen, he was Chairman of Crucial Films for seven years, providing a range of content for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and is an outspoken activist for increased diversity in the media. Screening before the In Conversation event will be Stan Hey’s comedy-drama Coast to Coast (BBC1987) which features Henry as a languorous Liverpudlian who has a chance encounter with an US Air Force deserter. When they discover a mutual love of soul music they set themselves up as travelling DJs, but soon find themselves on the run, pursued by representatives from both sides of the law.
BLACK BRITISH TRAILBLAZERS
The BLACK BRITISH TRAILBLAZERS focus on Sunday 18 December will look at pioneering talent on the big and small screen. In 1992 the BFI and the BBC co-produced a set of beautifully crafted documentaries Black and White in Colour: Television, Memory, Race 1936-1968 + 1968-1992: charting the representation of black people on UK television, from its origin in 1936 all the way through to 1992, this is by far the most complete and entertaining documentary on the subject to date, and perfectly sets out the themes for a panel discussion which will follow. Black Stars of British TV will be a clip-filled discussion in which different generations of actors come together to celebrate the black stars of UK TV over the years. Special guests including actors Carmen Munroe, Don Warrington, Zawe Ashton and Ashley Walters, director Isaac Julien and co-founder of Sugar Films Pat Younge will consider the opportunities and challenges in casting, from TV’s early productions through to the successes of the 80s and 90s and modern-day roles, plus aspirations for the future.
CLOSE UP: CARMEN MUNROE & NORMAN BEATON
Carmen Munroe will also be subject of a focus alongside her often-onscreen-husband Norman Beaton. The highlight of CLOSE UP: CARMEN MUNROE & NORMAN BEATON will be a reunion of the cast and crew of Desmond’s, including creator-writer Trix Worrell, producer-director Charlie Hanson and actors Carmen Munroe, Ram John Holder and Robbie Gee. Desmond’s burst onto British screens like a breath of fresh air in 1989: never before on UK television had a prime-time sitcom been created by a black screenwriter or featured a black-led ensemble. The reunion will also include a screening of the first ever episode of Desmond’s, French Lessons (Humphrey Barclay Productions-Ch4 1989). Other productions starring Beaton and Munroe which will be included in the focus are: Fable (BBC, 1965), A Song at Twilight (BBC, 1992) directed for television by Stephen Frears, Black Christmas (BBC, 1977), Big George is Dead (Ch4, 1987) and Horace Ové’s Playing Away (1986).
Stars such as Will Smith, Carl Weathers and Michael B Jordan take centre-stage in a focus on ACTION! In the riotously enjoyable third instalment of the Rocky series Rocky III (Sylvester Stallone, 1982) heavyweight Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), once the antagonist to the titular boxer, turns mentor and trains the Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in his own inimitable style. Bringing the Rocky franchise up to date is Creed(Ryan Coogler, 2015) starring the brilliant Michael B Jordan as Adonis Creed, son of the late Apollo, who is trying to forge a boxing career on his own terms. Few people were surprised when Will Smith seamlessly eased his way from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air into blockbuster movie stardom with hits like Bad Boys (Michael Bay, 1995) alongside Martin Lawrence and Enemy of the State (1998), Tony Scott’s throwback to paranoid 70s thrillers, both of which will screen in the season.
COMEDY GOLD from actors such as Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg and Eddie Murphy will be a highlight of the December programme. Screenings will include Car Wash (Michael Schultz, 1976), a colourful cult comedy focusing on a day in the life of a group of friends working at an LA car wash, Richard Pryor Live in Concert (Jeff Margolis, 1979) which is often hailed as one of the most influential comedy gigs of the modern era, Bamboozled (2000) Spike Lee’s underrated satire of mainstream entertainment’s racial mores and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (Bill Duke, 1993), the rollicking sequel to Sister Act in which Whoopi Goldberg reprises her role as Sister Mary Clarence to teach music to troubled teens including a young Lauryn Hill. The comedy gold focus will also include a talk, Black Star Stories: The Comedians, looking at some of the stars of the films, as well as CLOSE UP: EDDIE MURPHY, with screenings of some of Murphy’s best-loved films including Coming to America (John Landis, 1988), Beverley Hills Cop (Martin Brest, 1984) and Boomerang (Reginald Hudlin, 1992).
BEYOND THE SPOTLIGHT will be a selection of films featuring major black stars in underrated, off-kilter roles. These include Claudine (John Berry, 1974) starring the Oscar-nominated Diahann Carroll alongside James Earl Jones, in a quiet, uplifting, and brilliantly performed film which is rarely spoken of now; Nothing But A Man (Michael Roemer, 1964) starring real-life civil rights activists Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln in a uncompromising Deep South docudrama about love and dignity in the face of racism, and reportedly a favourite of Malcolm X; and Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997) an overlooked masterpiece in both melodrama and southern gothic starring Samuel L Jackson.
The IMMORTAL INCARNATIONS strand looks at music icons who were brought to life in classic films featuring transcendent, transformative performances and includes Lady Sings the Blues (Sidney J Furie, 1972) staring Diana Ross as Billie Holiday alongside Richard Pryor and Billy Dee Williams, and What’s Love Got to Do With It (Brian Gibson, 1993) starring Angela Bassett as Tina Turner alongside Laurence Fishburne’s Ike.
The BLACK LOVE focus looks at the complicated, unexpected and wonderful romances that have made it to the big screen, including Chris Rock’s smart and funny Top Five (2014) in which he stars alongside Rosario Dawson, and Brown Sugar (Rick Famuyiwa, 2002), a perfectly pitched rom-com and ode to Hip Hop starring Taye Diggs and Sanaa Latham, and featuring supporting turns from Queen Latifah and Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def). The BLACK LOVE focus also includes CLOSE UP: WHITNEY HOUSTON, which will include screenings of two of the late superstar diva’s best-loved films Waiting to Exhale (Forest Whitaker, 1995) and The Bodyguard (Mick Jackson, 1992).
Regular strand BFI FLARE will feature screenings of Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman (1997) in which she stars as a semi-fictional aspiring filmmaker who decides to make a film about a black actress from 1930s whose character as a ‘mammie’ stereotype was billed as ‘the watermelon woman.’ Also screening will be Alan Parker’s surprisingly dark teen musical Fame (1980). This major hit spawned a TV spin-off and turned Gene Anthony Ray into a household name; his precocious dance prodigy Leroy, was filled with raw talent and energy and he presented a tantalisingly enigmatic portrayal of black masculinity for queer audiences looking to see themselves on screen.
Open now and running until Monday 2 January, the Atrium in BFI Southbank is home to the Separate Cinema Exhibition; this exhibition displays film posters drawn from the most extensive private holdings of African-American film memorabilia in the world, The Separate Cinema Archive®, curated and maintained by archive director John Kisch.
The posters on display reveal the history of black stardom from early Hollywood to today and include posters for Zouzou, Carmen Jones, Foxy Brown, Coming to America and many more. The book Separate Cinema: The First 100 years of Black Poster Art is available now from the BFI Shop; its editors John Kisch and Tony Nourmand will be signing copies and discussing the poster art after the event On Blackness, Cinema, and the Moving Image: A KCL Symposium in the Atrium on Saturday 5 November at 3.30pm.
Also on display during the season is Paul Robeson: Black Star, which runs until Sunday 22 January in the Mezzanine Gallery in BFI Southbank. Paul Robeson was a true renaissance man: athlete, trained lawyer, political activist, singer, and major star of stage and screen. In the late 1920s, Robeson came to Britain. After the musical Showboat was a theatrical smash hit, he became a household name and huge box-office draw with films such as Song of Freedom (1936) and The Proud Valley (1940). This exhibition looks at Robeson’s film career and explores his status as one of the most important stars of the period.
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 from 17 October – 31 December, with further projects planned to celebrate the contribution of black practitioners working across film and TV in the coming years.
CHRISTMAS 2016 AT BFI SOUTHBANK
During December BFI Southbank will get into the Christmas spirit, with screenings of festive films across the Big Screen Classics, BFI Cult, and BFI Families strands, which are all part of the regular BFI Southbank programme. Alongside uplifting celebrations of comfort and joy suitable for all the family, such as It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946), The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940) and The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992) the programme will also acknowledge that Christmas can bring loneliness and tension such as in A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008), and even a spot of Yuletide horror, as audiences will be able to discover through Cult Strand screenings of Christmas Evil (Lewis Jackson, 1980) and Silent Night, Deadly Night (Charles E Sellier Jr, 1984).
The Big Screen Classics programme offers a Christmas-set film every day in December for the special price of just £8. The programme includes an extended run of The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940) starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as pen pals who don’t realise they have met in real life; this perfect romantic comedy has often been remade (most famously as You’ve Got Mail), but has never been equalled. The Christmas season wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the cinema to see Frank Capra’s sublime It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) starring James Stewart as the anxiety-ridden George Bailey, who needs some help from an angel to realise his worth, while Alastair Sim’s Ebenezer Scrooge needs some help to find his Christmas spirit in A Christmas Carol (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951).
The warm and witty Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944) chronicles the four seasons of 1903-04 as experienced by a St Louis family set to relocate to New York; imbued with a nostalgia for simpler times, Meet Me in St Louis is the perfect way to while away a winter night. Jack Lemmon stars in The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960) as an insurance clerk who, bent on promotion, lends his apartment to his philandering superiors, only to find that the girl he’s fallen for, played by Shirley MacLaine, is being courted by his own boss. Joe Dante’s cult Christmas classic Gremlins (1984) about cute and cuddly ‘mogwai’ that transform into diabolically destructive monsters offers a different kind of yuletide treat, while Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff, 2003) starring Billy Bob Thornton as a foul-mouthed, alcoholic, shopping mall Santa who moonlights as a thief, promises laughs a-plenty.
Completing the Big Screen Classics programme will be Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen, 1940) starring Barbara Stanwyck as a cynical shoplifter facing a Christmas in jail; Eric Rohmer’s brilliantly witty My Night with Maud (1969) set at Christmas in Clermont-Ferrand; A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008) a complex and engrossing account of an extended family attempting to get through the Christmas season despite numerous differences; and Todd Haynes’ superb Carol (2015) starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as a married mother woman and a doe-eyed shop girl who fall in love.
Screening in the BFI Cult strand this month is Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out) (Lewis Jackson, 1980) and Silent Night, Deadly Night (Charles E Sellier Jr, 1984). Thirty-three years after a traumatic childhood experience on Christmas Eve, a disgruntled toy factory worker is driven to murder in Lewis Jackson’s grim and grubby yuletide horror. So much more than the straightforward seasonal slasher it’s often assumed to be, Christmas Evil is a wickedly subversive tale of one man’s psychotic breakdown, and has been described by John Waters as ‘the greatest Christmas movie ever made.’ Silent Night, Deadly Night is probably the most infamous killer Santa movie; this controversial shocker about an unhinged young man who dons a Father Christmas costume and embarks on a homicidal free-for-all caused a full-blown media sensation upon initial release, and was pulled from US cinemas after only a week. Three decades on, it’s as gloriously disreputable as ever.
The BFI Families strand will feature screenings of The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992) starring Michael Caine alongside everyone’s favourite muppets Kermit the Frog, Gonzo and Miss Piggy. This reworking of A Christmas Carol features joyous songs and a hilarious script, and will entertain the whole family. There will also be a Film Funday screening of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (3D) (Henry Selick, 1993-2006), the classic stop-motion animation about Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King, who unexpectedly finds that scaring people isn’t fun anymore so sets his sights on bringing some Christmas joy into people lives, which doesn’t exactly go according to plan. The screening will be preceded by a Funday Workshop where younger audiences can try their hand at arts, crafts and animation by designing their own Christmas characters.
EVENTS, PREVIEWS AND REGULAR STRANDS
- THU 15 DEC, 18:45 & 21:00 – SPECIAL EVENT: Adam and Joe Live / Onstage: Comedians Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish – twenty years on from their first TV appearance the comedy duo reunite for a rare live show to indulge in a nostalgic look at their earlier forays into TV, from Takeover TV to The Adam and Joe show
- THU 1 DEC, 18:15 – PREVIEW: The Coming War on China (John Pilger, 2016) / Onstage: Director John Pilger
- MON 12 DEC, 20:20 – TV PREVIEW: The Witness for the Prosecution (Julian Jarrold, 2016) / Onstage: director Julian Jarrold, writer Sarah Phelps and actor Toby Jones
- FRI 9 DEC, 18:15 – FILM SCREENING + Q&A: Life, Animated (Roger Ross Williams, 2016) / Onstage: filmmakers TBC
- SAT 17 DEC, 20:15 – PREMIERE + DISCUSSION: Donnie Darko 4K Restoration (Richard Kelly 2001) / Onstage: panel to be announced in due course
- MON 19 DEC, 19:50 – BFI MEMBER EXCLUSIVE: Baroness Floella Benjamin, OBE, introduces West Side Story (Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins, 1961)
- MON 12 DEC, 18:30 – SPECIAL EVENT: Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI
- THU 1 DEC, 21:00 & THU 8 DEC, 18:30/20:45 – SPECIAL EVENT: BUG 53 / Onstage: Comedian Adam Buxton
- SUN 4 DEC, 15:00 & 17:30 – SPECIAL EVENT: Missing Believed Wiped – two sessions, Comedy and Light Entertainment and Drama
- MON 19 DEC, 19:00 – SPECIAL EVENT AT THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY: The BFI and STUDIOCANAL present: Scott of the Antarctic (Charles Frend, 1948) / Onstage: Q&A with Sir Ranulph Fiennes
- SUN 4 DEC, 11:00 & 13:00 – WOMAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: Underwire Festival Award Winners + filmmaker Q&As
- THU 15 DEC, 20:30 – EXPERIMENTA: LMFC 50: Sensuous Film
- SUN 18 DEC, 20:10 – AUDIENCE CHOICE on the theme of Dark Suburbia to tie in with the re-release of Blue Velvet
- CONTINUES FROM FRI 25 NOV: Patterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
- OPENS FRI 9 DEC: Life, Animated (Roger Ross Williams, 2016) – with Q&A on opening night (see events section)
- THIS OPENS FRI 2 DEC: Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
- OPENS FRI 16 DEC: The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940) – part of Big Screen Christmas Classics
- OPENS SAT 17 DEC: Donnie Darko 4K Restoration (Richard Kelly, 2001) – Premiere screening with discussion on opening night (see events section)
- CONTINUES FROM FRI 11 NOV: Napoleon (Abel Gance, 1927)
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