The BFI and African Odysseys have announced a new season of documentaries which spotlight the injustices experienced by Black British communities at the hands of the police, and the international Black struggle for human and civil rights over decades. The season, AFRICAN ODYSSEYS PRESENTS: INJUSTICE, will take place at BFI Southbank from 1 September – 6 October, as well as online for UK-wide audiences via BFI YouTube. The season has been programmed by the BFI African Odysseys Steering Committee, including activists and racial equality campaigners Tony Warner and Kunle Olulode. Online events taking place on BFI YouTube (which will also be screened at BFI Southbank) will include talks with directors like Ken Fero (INJUSTICE) (plus more names to be announced) and activists such as Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean Rigg died in police custody in 2008.
AFRICAN ODYSSEYS PRESENTS: INJUSTICE will feature 8 titles including MANGROVE NINE (Franco Rosso, John La Rose, 1973), a rarely seen documentary about the 1970 Black Power march in Notting Hill against police harassment; independent community documentary THE PEOPLE’S ACCOUNT (Ceddo Film and Video Workshop/Milton Bryan, 1985) about the Broadwater Farm uprising; and George Amponsah’s BAFTA nominated THE HARD STOP (George Amponsah, 2015) which relates to Mark Duggan’s death in 2011. There will also be a focus on the work of Migrant Media, a collective of radical filmmakers whose work includes films such as INJUSTICE (Ken Fero, Tariq Mehmood, 2001), WHO POLICES THE POLICE? (Ken Fero, 2012) and BRITAIN’S BLACK LEGACY (Mogniss Abdallah, Ken Fero, 1991). There will also be a look at international features from Australia and Brazil, which will add additional context around the global nature of the recent anti-racism protests.
Now in its 14th year, BFI African Odysseys programme monthly events at BFI Southbank, as well as larger seasons and celebrations of work by and about the African diaspora, and the vast majority of the films in this season have been screened by BFI African Odysseys in the past. Screening them anew in 2020, during a time where renewed calls for action against racism have reignited movements the world over and galvanized a new generation of activists, underlines the long-term activism that programmers, filmmakers and communities have championed.
BFI Southbank African Odysseys Steering Committee members and spokespeople for the programme Tony Warner (founder of Black History Walks) and Kunle Olulode (Director, Voices4Change) said:
“Utilising the expertise of community activists, the African Odysseys programme has long dealt with the subject of police brutality and institutional racism. The reaction to the murder of George Floyd has catapulted these issues back into the mainstream agenda. However, the UK is not ‘innocent’, and independently produced civil rights films from Ceddo and Migrant Media (featured in this season) were routinely banned. For these reasons we revisit the Black British struggle for human and civil rights and link it with the international fight against racial injustice, with titles from as further afield as Australia and Brazil.”
Events confirmed for AFRICAN ODYSSEYS PRESENTS: INJUSTICE
- INJUSTICE Q&A with director Ken Fero and film critic Peter Bradshaw, hosted by season programmer Kunle Olulode. On screen at BFI Southbank on 5 September and online on BFI YouTube from 6 September.
- WHO POLICES THE POLICE? Q&A with Marcia Rigg, activist and sister of Sean Rigg, who died in Brixton police station in 2008,and director Ken Fero. Online exclusive on BFI YouTube from 8 September.
- THE HARD STOP discussion event (with guests TBC) exploring the resonance and relevance of the BAFTA-nominated film, five years after its original release. On screen at BFI Southbank on 29 September and online on BFI YouTube from 30 September.
- FILMMAKER FORUM with young black filmmakers working in activism across different platforms, examining the evolving role of moving image in documenting, deconstructing and combatting racial injustice. Online exclusive on BFI YouTube from 24 September.
Films screenings in AFRICAN ODYSSEYS PRESENTS: INJUSTICE
MANGROVE NINE (Franco Rosso, John La Rose, 1973) is a rarely seen documentary that details a crucial chapter in the struggle for Black British Civil Rights, a story that will soon be brought to the small screen in Steve McQueen’s MANGROVE on BBC One. Fifty years ago, the Mangrove March saw Black Panthers and community leaders like Althea Jones Lecointe, Darcus Howe, Barbara Beese and Frank Chrichlow take on a racist state which repeatedly raided the notable Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill. Screening alongside MANGROVE NINE will also be the independent community documentary THE PEOPLE’S ACCOUNT (Ceddo Film and Video Workshop/Milton Bryan, 1985) about the Broadwater Farm uprising in Tottenham. The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) objected to descriptions of the police as racist, lawless terrorists, and to the description of the uprising as a legitimate act of self-defence. They demanded editorial changes and, when the filmmakers refused, the programme was pulled from the schedules, intended never to be shown on British television. On 4 August 2011, Mark Duggan was shot dead by armed police. A few days later, riots erupted in Duggan’s home town of Tottenham, spreading out across London and into the regions. Director George Amponsah and producer Dionne Walker joined forces and for three years, they immersed themselves in Mark Duggan’s world, creating a BAFTA nominated, independent, observational and cinematic film THE HARD STOP (George Amponsah, 2015).
Migrant Media is a collective of radical filmmakers working in documentary production which was established in 1989. With work that has focused on race and class, with a central narrative of resistance, Migrant Media’s work includes the pioneering investigative campaign film INJUSTICE (Ken Fero, Tariq Mehmood, 2001). On its release, the Police Federation attempted to ban the film, which charts the struggle for justice by families of those who have died in police custody and won Best Documentary at the BFM International Film Festival in 2002, and was originally distributed by the BFI. Also made by Ken Fero and Migrant Media is WHO POLICES THE POLICE? (2012); Sean Rigg died in a caged area in Brixton Police Station in August 2008 and the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) were called in to investigate. Using powerful testimonies, poetry and a political analysis of police violence WHO POLICES THE POLICE? explores the tactics of the IPCC and, through the family of Sean Rigg, challenge its claim that it is independent. Also screening alongside WHO POLICES THE POLICE? is BRITAIN’S BLACK LEGACY (Mogniss Abdallah, Ken Fero, 1991); from the 1958 Notting Hill riots and the murder of Kelso Cochrane in 1959, through to the murder of Rolan Adams in Greenwich in 1991, Black communities have fought in the streets and in the courts for the basic human right to live without fear of racial attacks. Interweaving a wealth of archive material with personal testimony, BRITAIN’S BLACK LEGACY retraces this history of struggle and expresses the need to challenge the current political system through the lessons learnt from the long history of Black struggles in Britain.
Australia, on the morning of November 19, 2004, a Palm Island local Indigenous man Cameron Doomadgee was arrested for public nuisance. An hour later he lay dead in a watch-house cell with massive internal injuries. THE TALL MAN (Tony Krawitz, 2011) interviews the family, friends and residents of the community on the island as they struggle to understand Cameron’s tragic death and the civil unrest that followed it. Brazil in 2000, Sandro do Nascimento, a young black man, held passengers on a bus hostage for four hours. The event was caught live on television. The Emmy award winning BUS 174 (José Padilha, Felipe Lacerda, 2002) examines both the incident itself but also gives a wider picture of life for those of African descent in Brazil and the link to recent police killings.
Tickets for screenings in AFRICAN ODYSSEYS PRESENTS: INJUSTICE will go on sale to BFI Patrons and BFI Champions at 10:00 on 21 August, BFI Members at 11:00 on 21 August and to the general public at 10:00 on 24 August.
Kunle Olulode is on the BFI African Odysseys steering committee. He has a long-standing interest in arts development particularly in film. He is the director at Voice4Change England, a BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) charity and infrastructure support body. With over 400 members, its aim is to strengthen the BAME voluntary sector to meet the needs of disadvantaged communities. Kunle is a co-opted member of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities and is also a trustee of the English Heritage Trust, becoming one of its first black board members in 2017. He has a strong track record working within the BAME sector; as a trade union activist at Camden Council, from 2002 – 2011, he led the Camden Black Workers staff group and founded its award-winning Camden Black History Forum. He was also instrumental in the publication of the recent report ‘Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity’.
Tony Warner is a management consultant specialising in diversity. He is the co-founder and chair of the BFI African Odysseys steering committee. As a community activist, he has been exhibiting educational and empowering films about the African/Caribbean experience in museums, art galleries, restaurants and youth clubs since 2000. He is also the founder of Black History Walks in London, a group which explores the African history of the capital via guided walks, talks, films, bus tours and river cruises. He is the author of Black History Walks in London Volume 1 which explores 2000 years of the African presence in London.
NEW HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES FROM 1 SEPTEMBER
We have undertaken a highly detailed project that has focused on ensuring the health and safety of our staff and visitors in order to open in the most responsible way possible. This project, which will continue to respond to ongoing government guidance, has been informed by industry intelligence and audience feedback, extensive risk assessments and staff training and liaising with our unions. Exhaustive detail of BFI Southbank’s new and enhanced health and safety measures can be found online.