Birkbeck will be celebrating Black History Month throughout October in London by showing inspirational and hard-hitting films about black identity, ‘black power,’ and racial inequality. Five films are being shown at the Stratford East Picturehouse as part of a collaboration involving Birkbeck and The New Black Film Collective. Academics from Birkbeck will share their insights and expertise from different disciplines, including History and Law, at the post-film discussions at two free screenings.
Mike Berlin, lecturer in History at Birkbeck, will speak about the black cultural theorist Stuart Hall following the screening of The Stuart Hall Project on 10 October. Hall – a bright young Rhodes scholar of the Windrush generation – searched for his identity as a black man in England in the 1950s. This led him to consider the impact of historical and political factors on identity, which became his life’s work.
Attillah Springer, Trinidad-born writer and activist, will share her thoughts about the film Who Needs A Heart on 17 October. The film is inspired by the life and times of the black British revolutionary leader Michael X and explores the turbulence of ‘black power’ in England in the 1960s.
Eddie Bruce-Jones, lecturer in Law at Birkbeck, will comment on racial inequalities in the US criminal justice system and their consequences – the subject of the film Broken On All Sides – on 31 October. He will also be joined by Matthew Pillischer, the film’s director, during the post-film discussion.
Bruce-Jones said: “These film screenings are a perfect opportunity to reflect upon the challenges faced, and resilience shown, by black people over recent decades in the UK and overseas. Black History Month is the right time to explore such historic and contemporary footage.”
Programme of film screenings: To book, please call the Stratford East Picturehouse, Salway Road, London, E15 1BX, on 0871 902 5740 or visit www.picturehouses.co.uk.
Thursday 3rd October: 8:00 – 10:00pm
The Fade UK 2012. Directed by Andy Mundy-Castle. Running time 76 mins. (15)Film screening, talk and discussion, with The New Black Film Collective £6.50
Four barbers, four lives, one story. The Fade is an intimate portrait of four Afro barbers across the world, revealing exactly what the profession means to 21st century society. It’s far more than just a haircut! Set in Ghana, Jamaica, USA and UK, the film interweaves the four barbers’ stories and examines the polarised opposites of their locations, creating an international dialogue between the colourful lives of four men who do the same thing, in different time zones, with very different realities.
Thursday 10th October, 8:00 – 10:00pm
The Stuart Hall Project
UK 2013. Directed by John Akomfrah. Running time 103 mins. (12A) Film screening and discussion, with Birkbeck lecturer Mike Berlin -Free
Stuart Hall is one of the most influential and respected intellectuals of his generation. John Akomfrah’s emotionally powerful film is made entirely from Hall’s film, television, radio and photographic archives, and set to the music of Hall’s musical hero Miles Davis. The film 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. This masterful documentary maps the changes from Britain in the 1950s to the multiculturalism of today.
Birkbeck History lecturer Mike Berlin is a specialist in the social history of early modern London. He is currently researching into the history of the British New Left. Mike’s recent BBC Radio 4 series, Journeys Down My Street, traced the historic movement of Somali, Polish, and Viennese Jewish communities to different areas of Britain.
Thursday 17th October, 8:00 – 10:00pm
Who Needs a Heart UK 1991. Directed by John Akomfrah. Running time 78 mins. (15) Film screening, talk and discussion, with Birkbeck Lecturer Anthony Joseph - Free
John Akomfrah’s innovative and controversial documentary Who Needs a Heart is inspired by the life and times of 1960s black revolutionary leader Michael X, self-styled leader of the Black Muslims in London and president of the Racial Adjustment Action Society. The film uses an impressive musical soundtrack and experimental direction to explore the turbulence of ‘black power’ in 1960s England. Who Needs a Heart describes the social scene behind the political movement, and the emotional and psychological consequences for a group of friends and lovers caught up in it.
Attillah Springer is a Trinidad-born writer for publications including Caribbean Beat and Another Magazine. She has written about Trinidad for acclaimed British artist Chris Ofili’s Tate Britain Retrospective and multimedia artist Zak Ove’s continued explorations of Afro Futurism in sculpture. Attilah is a Director of Idakeda Group, a collective of women in her family creating cultural interventions for social change in vulnerable communities in Trinidad and Tobago.
Thursday 24th October: 8:00 – 10:00pm
42 US 2012. Directed by Brian Helgeland. Running time 128 mins. (12A) Film screening, talk and discussion, with The New Black Film Collective £6.50
In 1946, Jackie Robinson is a Negro League baseball player who never takes racism lying down. Branch Rickey is a Major League team executive with a bold idea: Rickey recruits Robinson to break the unspoken colour line as the first modern African American Major League player. As both anticipate, this proves a major challenge for Robinson and his family as they endure unrelenting racist hostility on and off the field, from both players and fans. As Jackie struggles against his nature to endure such abuse without complaint, he finds allies and hope where he least expects it.
Thursday 31st October, 8:00 – 10:00pm
Broken On All Sides US 2012. Directed by Matthew Pillischer. Running time 68 mins. (15) Film screening, talk and discussion, with Birkbeck lecturer Eddie Bruce-Jones FREE
The USA has 25% of all the world’s prisoners and only 5% of the world’s population, and locks up a higher proportion of its racial and ethnic minorities than any other country (including South Africa at the height of apartheid). Matthew Pillischer’s hard-hitting documentary looks at racial inequities within the US criminal justice system and their devastating consequences. Pillischer sets out to explore the reasons behind the high rates of stops, searches, arrests, prosecutions, and prison sentences for people of colour in the US – as well as examining the political and personal impacts of mass incarceration.
Eddie Bruce-Jones lectures in the School of Law at Birkbeck, University of London. Eddie’s interests include anti-discrimination law, human rights, international refugee law, legal theory, prison studies, ‘culture’ and colonialism. Eddie has taught general education and writing courses in prisons in Boston and New York and has worked on prison reform issues in various capacities.
A collaboration: TNB BHM 2013 is the third year of The New Black Film Festival during Black History Month. The New Black are proud to be collaborating with Birkbeck, University of London to bring you this exciting programme of titles from the African Diaspora. In partnership with NUSHO (Nu Social Health Organisation) The New Black will be running art/culture/heritage events before the screenings. Check out www.tnbfc.co.uk for more details.