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Black British Filmmaking

A selection of shorts and features by black writers and directors, from milestones of the 60s and 70s to contemporary hits.

For much of the history of British film and TV, black stories were overseen by white filmmakers. By the 1960s, black writers and directors were demanding to tell their own stories, in their own way. This collection celebrates the work of black storytellers who have enriched our understanding of the black British experience.

Landmark features like Horace Ové's Pressure (1975) and Menelik Shabazz's Burning an Illusion (1981) stand beside earlier milestones in short filmmaking by Lionel Ngakane and Lloyd Reckord, and 1990s work by Isaac Julien and Julian Henriques. And you'll find hits by leading lights in new black British cinema, including Noel Clarke, Destiny Ekaragha and Debbie Tucker Green.

The collection also highlights the work of Ngozi Onwurah, who became the first black British woman director to get a UK theatrical release with her extraordinary debut feature Welcome II the Terrordome (1995), a controversial dystopian fable unavailable for many years.

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Black British Filmmaking

RECOMMENDED

View The Body Beautiful
The Body Beautiful
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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 Jemima + Johnny
Jemima + Johnny
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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 Babymother
Babymother
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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

BROWSE THE COLLECTION

View Adulthood
Adulthood
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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 Dog Eat Dog
Dog Eat Dog
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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
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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

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 Coffee Coloured Children
Coffee Coloured Children
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Coffee Coloured Children 1988

Experimental monologue about the trauma of racial harassment and self-hate that accompanies growing up mixed-race in Britain.

15 mins United Kingdom Director. Ngozi Onwurah

View White Men Are Cracking Up
White Men Are Cracking Up
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White Men Are Cracking Up 1994

The fatal fascination with the myth of the black feminine mystique is uncovered in Ngozi Onwurah's enigmatic short.

19 mins United Kingdom Director. Ngozi Onwurah

View The Hard Stop
The Hard Stop
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The Hard Stop 2015 15

The story of Mark Duggan, who was shot and killed in Tottenham in 2011, is brought to the screen in this humane, thought-provoking and topical documentary.

85 mins United Kingdom Director. George Amponsah

View Flight of the Swan
Flight of the Swan
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Flight of the Swan 1992

A young black ballerina rejects prejudice and finds her African spirit in Swan Lake.

United Kingdom Director. Ngozi Onwurah

View Riots and Rumours of Riots
Riots and Rumours of Riots
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Riots and Rumours of Riots 1981

Radical resistance in the postwar British Caribbean community, from the 1948 Nationality Act to the 1958 Brixton riots.

33 mins United Kingdom Director. Imruh Caesar

View We the Ragamuffin
We the Ragamuffin
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We the Ragamuffin 1992

Julian Henriques' urban musical showcases the style, vernacular and vibrancy of British Caribbean Dancehall culture.

30 mins United Kingdom Director. Julian Henriques

View The Weekend
The Weekend
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The Weekend 2016 15

Street-smart Hackney comedy about three friends whose unexpected cash windfall funds the mother of all parties; from the talents behind YouTube hit Mandem on the Wall.

90 mins United Kingdom Director. Sheridan De Myers

View Sidney's Chair
Sidney's Chair
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Sidney's Chair 1995

What do you do when a Hollywood star makes a film in your neighbourhood? Nick his chair, of course!

21 mins United Kingdom Director. Roberto Bangura

View Cedar Wood & Silk
Cedar Wood & Silk
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Cedar Wood & Silk 1995

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

14 mins England

View Ten Bob in Winter
Ten Bob in Winter
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Ten Bob in Winter 1963 PG

An early classic of Black British cinema about the intriguing social dynamics that arise as a ten shilling note is passed around the black community.

12 mins United Kingdom Director. Lloyd Reckord

View Speak Like a Child
Speak Like a Child
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Speak Like a Child 1998

Moving drama about three close friends forever tied to a dark secret from their teenage past.

77 mins United Kingdom Director. John Akomfrah

View Gone Too Far!
Gone Too Far!
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Gone Too Far! 2013 12

Riotous urban comedy adapted from the hit play about a Peckham teen affronted by the arrival of his long-lost Nigerian sibling.

88 mins United Kingdom Director. Destiny Ekaragha

View Destiny Ekaragha on Gone Too Far!
Destiny Ekaragha on Gone Too Far!
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Destiny Ekaragha on Gone Too Far! 2013

Director Destiny Ekaragha discusses her comedy Gone Too Far!, backed by the BFI Film Fund, at the London Film Festival programme launch.

United Kingdom

View Second Coming
Second Coming
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Second Coming 2014 15

What if an immaculate conception took place in a South London household? Idris Elba stars in a subtle, thought-provoking and original family drama.

105 mins United Kingdom Director. Debbie Tucker Green

View Blood Ah Go Run
Blood Ah Go Run
Watch from £0.85 13 mins

Blood Ah Go Run 1982

This documentary by Menelik Shabazz (Burning an Illusion) about the response to the New Cross Fire in 1981 prefigures the widespread social unrest later that year.

13 mins United Kingdom Director. Imruh Caesar, Menelik Shabazz

View Rooted
Rooted
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Rooted 1997

Animated awakening: a young black man in an oppressive urban environment finds a new outlook by embracing his African roots

4 mins United Kingdom Director. Victor Olusola Opeyokun

View Tunde's Film
Tunde's Film
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Tunde's Film 1973

Tired of being hassled by the police and with no job opportunities, a group of teenage East End lads plan to rob a bank.

42 mins United Kingdom Director. Maggie Pinhorn, Tunde Ikoli

View 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave
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12 Years a Slave 2013 15

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender star in Steve McQueen’s fearless, Oscar-winning story of a free man who’s sold into slavery.

134 mins USA Director. Steve McQueen

View Steve McQueen on Shame (Interview)
Steve McQueen on Shame (Interview)
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Steve McQueen on Shame (Interview) 2012

The theme of sex addiction, the nature of collaboration and representations of violence in film are addressed by Shame's director, Steve McQueen.

United Kingdom

View Smack and Thistle
Smack and Thistle
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Smack and Thistle 1989

When a young black wide-boy rescues a rich white girl from a heroin overdose – and falls for her – he’s drawn into a world of high-class crime.

90 mins United Kingdom Director. Tunde Ikoli

View Midnight Breaks
Midnight Breaks
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Midnight Breaks 1988

Big Audio Dynamite’s Don Letts made his acting debut in this gripping, gritty 1990 drama of dreads, drugs, and music business corruption.

102 mins United Kingdom Director. Laurens C. Postma

View Hush
Hush
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Hush 2008 15

A tense and terrifying motorway thriller about a man whose girlfriend is kidnapped by a malevolent trucker, directed by former Radio 1 DJ Mark Tonderai.

96 mins United Kingdom Director. Mark Tonderai

View The Big Pride
The Big Pride
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The Big Pride 1961

Three convicts escape from prison in British Guyana but cannot find personal freedom.

57 mins United Kingdom

View The Homecoming A Short Film about Ajamu
The Homecoming  A Short Film about Ajamu
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The Homecoming A Short Film about Ajamu 1995

Black gay photographer Ajamu prepares to leave Brixton for an exhibition of his work in his hometown, Huddersfield.

17 mins United Kingdom Director. Topher Campbell

View Omega Rising
Omega Rising
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Omega Rising 1988

The women of Rastafari talk about their relationship to the movement’s development.

52 mins United Kingdom Director. D. Elmina Davis

Part of BFI Player+ SUBSCRIPTION

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View Pressure
Pressure
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Pressure 1975 15

Hailed as Britain's first black feature film, Pressure is a hard-hitting, honest document of the plight of disenchanted black youths in 1970s London.

120 mins United Kingdom Director. Horace Ové

View Burning an Illusion
Burning an Illusion
HD

Burning an Illusion 1981 15

Menelik Shabazz’s pioneering first feature traces the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher’s London.

101 mins United Kingdom Director. Menelik Shabazz

View Bullet Boy
Bullet Boy

Bullet Boy 2004 15

Ashley Walters impresses in the hard-hitting Hackney drama that’s still one of the best of Britain’s black urban crime films.

90 mins United Kingdom Director. Saul Dibb

View The Stuart Hall Project
The Stuart Hall Project
HD

The Stuart Hall Project 2013 12

More startling and relevant than ever, a vivid profile of intellect and insight set to the music of Miles Davis.

98 mins United Kingdom Director. John Akomfrah

View The Nine Muses
The Nine Muses
HD

The Nine Muses 2010 PG

John Akomfrah mixes archive material, literary and musical quotations and newly shot silent footage in a wry, rapt meditation on memory and migration.

92 mins United Kingdom Director. John Akomfrah

View B.D. Women
B.D. Women

B.D. Women 1994

Sassy, stylised documentary exploring the hidden histories of black lesbians.

20 mins United Kingdom Director. Campbell X

View Dream A40
Dream A40

Dream A40 1965 12

A young gay couple’s relationship is put to the test as a road trip takes a sinister turn in Lloyd Reckord's daring underground short.

16 mins United Kingdom Director. Lloyd Reckord

View Young Soul Rebels
Young Soul Rebels

Young Soul Rebels 1991 18

The Queen's Silver Jubilee beats to the sounds of Funkadelic, Sylvester and the O'Jays in Isaac Julien’s feature debut.

105 mins United Kingdom Director. Isaac Julien

View Playing Away
Playing Away

Playing Away 1986 15

A cricketing comedy of manners exploring white and black stereotypes, from pioneering British filmmaker Horace Ové.

100 mins United Kingdom Director. Horace Ové

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