The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

Choose another collection

Black Britain on Film

Striking, illuminating and sometimes surprising images of black culture, community and characters, spanning over a century of British film and TV.

From some of the earliest appearances at the dawn of the 20th century to groundbreaking postwar documentaries and contemporary features, this collection charts changing attitudes and hidden histories. Here are the trailblazers, the icons, the stereotypes, the controversies.

These richly varied films uncover sometimes surprising histories of black culture and community. They tackle troubling issues of race, representation and identity. And they highlight some of the best of black British filmmaking, from the work of pioneers Horace Ové and Menelik Shabazz to later innovators John Akomfrah and Ngozi Onwurah to contemporary successes Noel Clarke and Debbie Tucker Green.

The collection also showcases many of the most distinctive and iconic black performers in British film and TV, including Norman Beaton, Earl Cameron, Idris Elba, Lenny Henry, Carmen Munroe, Sophie Okonedo, Paul Robeson, Rudolph Walker and Elisabeth Welch.

triangle triangle
Black Britain on Film

RECOMMENDED

View Hull Fair
Hull Fair
Watch for free 5 mins

Hull Fair 1902

The ornate pavilions of cinematographs, boxing booths and menageries at Hull Fair.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Welcome II the Terrordome
Welcome II the Terrordome
Watch from £2.98 94 mins
HD

Welcome II the Terrordome 1995 18

A ferocious dystopian nightmare, this was the first film directed by a black British woman to receive a UK theatrical release.

94 mins United Kingdom Director. Ngozi Onwurah

View When Giants Fought
When Giants Fought
Watch for free

When Giants Fought 1926

A bruising fight in black and white sets the tone for conflicts to come.

30 mins United Kingdom Director. Harry B. Parkinson

View Divide and Rule - Never!
Divide and Rule - Never!
Watch for free

Divide and Rule - Never! 1978

Young working class Londoners fight racism with the power of rock and reggae in this anarchic documentary.

41 mins United Kingdom

View Nigerian Wedding in Cornwall
Nigerian Wedding in Cornwall
Watch for free

Nigerian Wedding in Cornwall 1964

Dressing to please as the happy couple switch wedding dress for national dress.

United Kingdom

View Flame in the Streets
Flame in the Streets
Watch from £2.98
HD

Flame in the Streets 1961 PG

John Mills stars as a progressive union leader who is confronted with his own internal prejudices when his daughter brings her West Indian boyfriend home.

93 mins United Kingdom Director. Roy Ward Baker

BROWSE THE COLLECTION

View Jemima + Johnny
Jemima + Johnny
Watch for free

Jemima + Johnny 1966

Touching short about the friendship between a white boy and a black girl in 1960s Notting Hill.

30 mins United Kingdom Director. Lionel Ngakane

View A World Is Turning
A World Is Turning
Watch for free

A World Is Turning 1948

A lost chapter in black British film: extraordinary rushes from a documentary showcasing talented members of the black community.

40 mins United Kingdom Director. G.L. Norman

View Mixed Marriages
Mixed Marriages
Watch from £0.85 15 mins

Mixed Marriages 1958

Broadcaster Daniel Farson explores different points of view about interracial marriages from 'ordinary' people.

15 mins United Kingdom Director. Rollo Gamble

View Kanga
Kanga
Watch for free 15 mins

Kanga 1992

Early 90s London gets a vibrant dose of African culture in this mini odyssey fusing dance, music and fashion.

15 mins England Director. Ian Watts

View Cedar Wood & Silk
Cedar Wood & Silk
Watch for free 14 mins

Cedar Wood & Silk 1995

Insightful exploration of the relationship between a Jamaican mother and her British-born daughter.

14 mins England

View Steel 'n' Skin
Steel 'n' Skin
Watch for free

Steel 'n' Skin 1979

Music and art provide a bridge to a diverse black cultural heritage in this fantastic community arts project in Liverpool

36 mins United Kingdom Director. Steve Shaw

View Contact
Contact
Watch for free 7 mins

Contact 1965

Tense, graphic experimental short film portraying police brutality inside a jail cell.

7 mins United Kingdom Director. Philip Mottram

View Sapphire
Sapphire
Watch from £2.98
HD

Sapphire 1959 PG

A young student with a secret is brutally murdered in this British Academy Award winning thriller about race, sex and jealousy.

92 mins United Kingdom Director. Basil Dearden

View Fay Craig - Mirage
Fay Craig - Mirage
Watch for free 2 mins

Fay Craig - Mirage 1963

You'd better believe it! Talented Jamaican-born dancer Fay Craig dances up a kitschy storm in this kooky 1960s dance film.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Fay Craig - Bongo Baby
Fay Craig - Bongo Baby
Watch for free 2 mins

Fay Craig - Bongo Baby 1962

Jamaican dancer Fay Craig gets down to a bongo rhythm in this kitsch 1960s dance film.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Fay Craig & the Boscoe Holder Dancers - Voodoo
Fay Craig & the Boscoe Holder Dancers - Voodoo
Watch for free 2 mins

Fay Craig & the Boscoe Holder Dancers - Voodoo 1962

Dancers Boscoe Holder and Fay Craig shake out some sultry shapes in this vibrant vintage slice of bongo-driven kitsch.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Wolcott Part 1
Wolcott  Part 1
Watch from £0.85

Wolcott Part 1 1981 15

The gritty and ground-breaking drama debuted Britain’s first black TV cop, with George William Harris as the CID officer embroiled in a drug war.

60 mins United Kingdom Director. Colin Bucksey

View Wolcott Part 2
Wolcott  Part 2
Watch from £0.85

Wolcott Part 2 1981 15

Second episode of the provocative detective drama starring George William Harris.

60 mins United Kingdom Director. Colin Bucksey

View Wolcott Part 3
Wolcott  Part 3
Watch from £0.85

Wolcott Part 3 1981 15

Continuing the gritty and ground-breaking drama featuring Britain’s first black TV detective.

50 mins United Kingdom Director. Colin Bucksey

View Wolcott Part 4
Wolcott  Part 4
Watch from £0.85

Wolcott Part 4 1981 15

The concluding episode of the pioneering black detective series.

United Kingdom Director. Colin Bucksey

View Vox Pops on Black Police Officers
Vox Pops on Black Police Officers
Watch for free 3 mins

Vox Pops on Black Police Officers 1966

Black police officers? What a ridiculous idea! Attitudes from England's colonial past linger on in the Midlands of the 1960s.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Black Special Constable
Black Special Constable
Watch for free 1 mins

Black Special Constable 1964

In Gloucester in January 1964, Astley Lloyd Blair makes history by becoming the first black special constable in Britain.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Top Deck
Top Deck
Watch for free

Top Deck 1962

A woman bus conductor struggles to ignore her black American army officer lover.

55 mins United Kingdom Director. David Andrews

View The Rise and Fall of Nellie Brown
The Rise and Fall of Nellie Brown
Watch for free

The Rise and Fall of Nellie Brown 1964

An incredibly joyous TV musical about a young woman's search for her long-lost cousin.

71 mins United Kingdom Director. John Jacobs

View A Man's Story
A Man's Story
Watch from £2.98
HD

A Man's Story 2010 15

A documentary charting twelve years in the career of Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng.

97 mins United Kingdom Director. Varon Bonicos

View Trafalgar Day in Liverpool
Trafalgar Day in Liverpool
Watch for free 3 mins

Trafalgar Day in Liverpool 1901

Huge crowds turn out in Edwardian Liverpool for the annual celebrations marking the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery
Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery
Watch for free 1 mins

Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery 1901

A black miner makes an intriguing addition to an already captivating film of coal workers up from their pit.

1 mins United Kingdom

View From Trinidad to Serve the Empire
From Trinidad to Serve the Empire
Watch for free 1 mins

From Trinidad to Serve the Empire 1916

Colonial recruits from Trinidad meet the Lord Mayor of London during WWI.

1 mins United Kingdom

View A World Is Turning
A World Is Turning
Watch for free

A World Is Turning 1948

A lost chapter in black British film: extraordinary rushes from a documentary showcasing talented members of the black community.

40 mins United Kingdom Director. G.L. Norman

View Mr Smith Wakes Up
Mr Smith Wakes Up
Watch for free 15 mins

Mr Smith Wakes Up 1937

A patient African dinner guest learns much about the state of 1930s Britain in this revealing film.

15 mins United Kingdom

View Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - I
Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - I
Watch for free

Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - I 1960

Gorgeous colour images of the multicultural Tiger Bay in Cardiff's docks area: a lively, thriving community under threat from slum clearance.

38 mins Wales

View Sixty-four Day Hero: A Boxer's Tale
Sixty-four Day Hero: A Boxer's Tale
Watch for free

Sixty-four Day Hero: A Boxer's Tale 1985

The turbulent life and death of championship boxer Randolph Turpin.

92 mins United Kingdom Director. Franco Rosso

View Born in-a Babylon
Born in-a Babylon
Watch from £0.85

Born in-a Babylon 2000

A portrait of Rastafarians living in Tottenham at the start of the new millennium.

35 mins United Kingdom Director. Nicolas Chaudeurge

View Gay Black Group
Gay Black Group
Watch for free

Gay Black Group 1983

The Gay Black Group - reasserting culture and identity on two levels.

24 mins United Kingdom

View Caribbean Restaurant
Caribbean Restaurant
Watch for free 6 mins

Caribbean Restaurant 1986

Bringing the tastes of Montego Bay to a wintry West Bromwich.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Burning Cross Race Attack
Burning Cross Race Attack
Watch for free 5 mins

Burning Cross Race Attack 1965

A stark reminder from Handsworth of the intolerance and hatred that darkened the streets of 1960s Britain.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Adulthood
Adulthood
Watch from £2.98
HD

Adulthood 2008 15

After being released from prison following a murder charge, Sam Peel (Noel Clarke) attempts to reboot his life and seek redemption.

99 mins United Kingdom Director. Noel Clarke

View Jemima + Johnny
Jemima + Johnny
Watch for free

Jemima + Johnny 1966

Touching short about the friendship between a white boy and a black girl in 1960s Notting Hill.

30 mins United Kingdom Director. Lionel Ngakane

View The Body Beautiful
The Body Beautiful
Watch for free

The Body Beautiful 1990

Autobiographical account of a mother-daughter relationship, exploring beauty standards and female sexuality.

23 mins United Kingdom Director. Ngozi Onwurah

View Welcome II the Terrordome
Welcome II the Terrordome
Watch from £2.98 94 mins
HD

Welcome II the Terrordome 1995 18

A ferocious dystopian nightmare, this was the first film directed by a black British woman to receive a UK theatrical release.

94 mins United Kingdom Director. Ngozi Onwurah

View Babymother
Babymother
Watch from £2.98
HD

Babymother 1998 15

Neeta and her crew rise to dancehall fame in North West London's Caribbean community, in the first Black British musical.

81 mins United Kingdom Director. Julian Henriques

View Dog Eat Dog
Dog Eat Dog
Watch from £2.98
HD

Dog Eat Dog 2000 15

David Oyelowo makes his first feature film role as one of posse of DJs who enrage a local drug baron after stealing his dog.

94 mins United Kingdom Director. Moody Shoaibi

View Kidulthood
Kidulthood
Watch from £2.98
HD

Kidulthood 2005 15

Noel Clarke and Menhaj Huda’s explosive youth film follows the drug, sex and crime-fuelled antics of a group of West London teens over the course of a single day.

90 mins United Kingdom Director. Menhaj Huda

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts


Never ask | Ask me later