Festival discussion explores hidden history of Britain’s Black Power movement

The hidden history of Britain’s Black Power movement will be the focus of a discussion by leading black film makers and screen writers at this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

Black Power in Britain, and on film will see Helen Bart, lead research consultant on Steve McQueen’s forthcoming BBC series on the Black British experience, award-winning screenwriter and producer Misan Sagay, director and producer Cathy Hassan, screenwriter and script editor Anna Ssemuyaba and Farrukh Dhondy, a leading member of the British Black Panthers, discuss screen representations of black British history.

The event, which takes place on 20th October during Black History Month, is part of this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas which runs from 15th to 28th October.

Until recently, Britain’s Black Power movement barely figured in narratives of contemporary history. Dr Robin Bunce, a historian and Fellow of Homerton College, will chair the discussion which will begin by looking at the impact of Black Power on British television in the 1980s, with shows such as King of the Ghetto and the Bandung Files, before looking at John Ridley’s Guerilla, and contemporary documentaries which have brought British black history to the screen.

Bunce, co-author of Renegade: The Life and Times of Darcus Howe, says: “There’s been growing interest in stories of Black Power and black resistance in film and television over the past couple of years. We’ve brought together a panel of television and film makers who have been making work in Britain, about black history in Britain. I’m hoping to find out what has inspired them, how they’ve brought their work to the screen and what they are working on next.”

Misan Sagay won the NAACP Image Award for writing BELLE. Sagay’s producing and screenwriting credits include Secret Laughter of Women, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. Sagay wrote on “Guerrilla” with John Ridley and is currently writing “Battersea Rise” for BBC, “Imprinted” for ITV, and adapting the life of Dame Daphne Sheldrick, “Life, Love and Elephants” and FELA for Focus Features for the screen.

Anna Ssemuyaba is currently working with Channel 4, Fifty Fathoms, and Drama Republic.

Cathy Hassan is Director and Producer of the 2017 film Beyond the Photo which consists of individual stories recording the realities of Black British lives in the 1970s.

Helen Bart is Lead Research consultant on the Steve McQueen Project, an epic BBC drama about black British experience and was Legal Producer on the BBC’s Stephen: The Murder that Changed A Nation as well as a former BBC Community Affairs Reporter for the English Regions.

Farrukh Dhondy is an author, screenwriter and Producer for Channel 4.

The Festival sponsors and partners are St John’s College, Anglia Ruskin University, RAND Europe, University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Garden, Cambridge Junction and Cambridge University Press. The Festival media partners are BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Cambridge Independent.

For more information and to book free places go to www.cam.ac.uk/festivalofideas or contact Mandy Garner on 07789 106435 or email mandy.garner@admin.cam.ac.uk.


Mandy Garner

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