Black Star October - December

Black Star from the BFI is a nationwide retrospective of film 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. Black Star celebrates films that feature black actors in central roles, bringing their work to a new generation of UK audiences and helping to reposition them and their performances in our collective memory.

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.

As part of the season, the BFI will re-release, John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood (1991), depicting life in South Central LA, and starring Ice Cube in his first screen role alongside Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. Writer-director John Singleton was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, making him the youngest ever nominee for Best Director at just 24, and the first African-American to be nominated for the award. Also being re-released during the season will be the powerful thriller In The Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967) starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger as a homicide detective and a bigoted local sheriff who must work together to solve a murder investigation. 

The season will see some 275 bespoke screenings and events in more than 90 different locations right across the UK. Highlighted below.

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Multiple locations: DJ Norman Jay MBE will tour five venues with a series of films that star actors such as Sidney Poitier, and Blaxploitation classic Shaft with Richard Rowntree. Jay will introduce each film, explaining the influences these stars have had on his career and life, and provide a DJ set incorporating rare soundtracks from the history of black cinema at venues in London, Leeds, Exeter, Manchester and Bristol.

Richard Pryor becomes a focus in Belfast and Sheffield: Stir Crazy will be shown in the extraordinary setting of nineteenth century Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast as part of the Belfast Film Festival, and an immersive screening of Car Wash will take place as a Drive-In at a disused Sheffield car wash as part of Sensoria (the festival of music, film and digital media).

Bristol: Black Comedy House Party at Trinity Community Arts Bristol. Come the Revolution will host a House Party double bill presenting some of the funniest films from the breakout era of Black Comedy, featuring comic stars ranging from Richard Pryor to Whoopi Goldberg, and culminating in a 90s themed music night, delivered in collaboration with Bristol’s finest DJs.

Cardiff: Let Paul Robeson Sing! Paul Robeson’s impact on Welsh life will be celebrated in Cardiff with a performance from a Welsh choir and vocalists at a screening of The Proud Valley, from newly remastered material, and a panel discussion on Robeson and how he is remembered today in the BAME communities of Wales. The event will be led by Chapter in partnership with Welsh National Opera and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Birmingham: Badasssss Icons – Blaxploitation season. Working in tandem with October’s BASS Festival, the UK’s leading annual black music festival, led by Birmingham-based Punch Records and the Birmingham city centre’s Electric Cinema, this series of screenings will offer a rare chance to see some landmarks from the 1970s boom in black exploitation cinema, all in glorious 35mm. Offering contextual introductions, live music and dressing-up, the programme will help to inject life into the city’s late-night film culture and bring a new cinematic dimension to an established arts festival.

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