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Black Star

The UK’s biggest ever celebration of black screen talent, shining a spotlight on the charisma and creativity of trailblazing performers.

There is not one single story of black stardom, but myriad. So our BFI Player programme highlights the leading men and women who’ve redefined Hollywood stardom, plus the British stars who’ve made a sizable stateside impression.

We also include focuses on Richard Pryor, stars of Sonic cinema and the pioneering talents who forged new developments in black representation. And there’s more to come, throughout November and December 2016.

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Black Star
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A United Kingdom
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A United Kingdom 2016 12

Amma Assante (Belle) directs this impassioned drama starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike depicting an interracial romance that changed the world.

101 mins United Kingdom Director. Amma Asante

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Selma
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Selma 2014 12

David Oyelowo’s stunning performance as Martin Luther King Jr. adorns this gripping account of the campaign that changed the course American civil rights.

128 mins United Kingdom

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The Fits
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The Fits 2015 12

Toni, an eleven year-old tomboy, finds a new purpose when an epidemic of seizures strikes her dance class, in this riveting and psychological character portrait from filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer.

72 mins USA Director. Anna Rose Holmer

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Southside with You
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Southside with You 2016 12

This smart, sophisticated, Sundance-nominated romance follows the first date of a couple who would go on to change the world – Barack and Michelle Obama.

84 mins USA Director. Richard Tanne

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Urban Hymn
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Urban Hymn 2015 15

In the wake of the London riots, teenager Jamie (Letitia Wright) finds herself at a crossroads; until music offers an unexpected path to salvation.

114 mins United Kingdom Director. Michael Caton-Jones

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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

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Chi-Raq
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Chi-Raq 2015 15

Spike Lee’s bold and vivacious hip-hop musical restages an ancient Greek battle-of-the-sexes in 21st-century Chicago.

127 mins USA Director. Spike Lee

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Do the Right Thing
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Do the Right Thing 1989 15

Spike Lee’s awesome cinematic sucker-punch remains one of the great films about race relations.

114 mins USA Director. Spike Lee

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Pulp Fiction
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Pulp Fiction 1994 18

Quentin Tarantino’s crackling crime classic still retains its swagger as one of the great American films of recent decades.

154 mins USA Director. Quentin Tarantino

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Brotherhood
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Brotherhood 2016 15

A decade after the release of Adulthood, Sam (Noel Clarke) is trying to keep his family safe while simmering old grudges threaten to resurface.

104 mins United Kingdom Director. Noel Clarke

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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

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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

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Ray
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Ray 2004 15

Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for his extraordinary performance as Ray Charles, in a film that revived the potency of the musical biopic.

178 mins USA Director. Taylor Hackford

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Race
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Race 2016 PG

The remarkable story of Jesse Owens, the grandson of a slave whose athletic feats defied Nazi ideology at the 1936 Olympics.

134 mins Canada Director. Stephen Hopkins

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Fast Girls
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Fast Girls 2012 12A

The four young runners on the Team GB women's relay team battle to overcome rivalries and personal demons in time for the World Athletics Championship.

90 mins United Kingdom Director. Regan Hall

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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

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Triple 9
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Triple 9 2015 15

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson make up the heavyweight cast for John Hillcoat’s (The Proposition) stunning heist thriller.

115 mins USA Director. John Hillcoat

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Half of a Yellow Sun
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Half of a Yellow Sun 2012 15

Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor star in the acclaimed adaption of the Orange Prize-winning novel.

111 mins Nigeria Director. Biyi Bandele-Thomas

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For Colored Girls
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For Colored Girls 2010 15

An ensemble cast including Janet Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg bring to life Ntozake Shange's extraordinary 1975 play about the experiences of black women.

133 mins USA

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Beasts of the Southern Wild
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Beasts of the Southern Wild 2012 12

Set in a Deep South delta, Zeitlin’s feature debut takes a child’s eye view of poverty, adult apathy and ecological crisis. Hallucinatory fare

93 mins USA Director. Benh Zeitlin

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Dreams of a Life
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Dreams of a Life 2011 12A

Carol Morley's drama-documentary investigates the tragic death of a woman whose body lay undetected for almost three years.

94 mins United Kingdom

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American Gangster
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American Gangster 2007 18

Ridley Scott’s heavyweight crime drama follows the rise and fall of drug-runner Frank Lucas, commandingly portrayed by Denzel Washington.

169 mins USA Director. Ridley Scott

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Bustin' Loose
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Bustin' Loose 1981 15

Richard Pryor sets out on the road to redemption, as an ex-con ferrying a busload of troubled kids on a wild cross-country adventure.

94 mins USA Director. Oz Scott

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Car Wash
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Car Wash 1976 PG

Richard Pryor, Bill Duke, Antonio Fargas are among the ensemble cast for the cult comedy set in a California car wash.

97 mins USA Director. Michael Schultz

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Blue Collar
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Blue Collar 1978 18

Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel star in Paul Schrader’s great, gritty 1970s drama, one of the rare Hollywood films to tackle American labour.

109 mins USA Director. Paul Schrader

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Brewster's Millions
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Brewster's Millions 1985 PG

Richard Pryor plays the everyman who inherits a vast estate with a massive catch: he’ll have to spend $30million in 30 days in order to inherit it all.

97 mins USA Director. Walter Hill

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The Wiz
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The Wiz 1978 U

NYC becomes Oz in the cult, urban reimagining of the family favourite, featuring an all-African American cast including Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

127 mins USA Director. Sidney Lumet

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Imitation of Life
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Imitation of Life 1959 12

Douglas Sirk’s final Hollywood film is a masterpiece of melodrama, for which Juanita Moore became the fifth African-American Oscar-nominee.

125 mins USA Director. Douglas Sirk

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Night of the Living Dead
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Night of the Living Dead 1968 15

Duane Jones took the first black lead role in an American horror for George Romero's ground-breaking zombie horror.

95 mins USA Director. George A. Romero

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Sidney's Chair
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Sidney's Chair 1995

The international legacy of Hollywood legend Sidney Poitier is humorously tackled in this short about two teens gate-crashing his London film shoot.

21 mins United Kingdom Director. Roberto Bangura

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Attack the Block
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Attack the Block 2011 15

Long before The Force Awakens, John Boyega led the line in this smaller but no-less exciting homegrown sci-fi.

87 mins United Kingdom Director. Joe Cornish

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Baby
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Baby 2010

A young woman attracts the attention of a street criminal after she prevents his gang from pick-pocketing.

25 mins United Kingdom Director. Daniel Mulloy

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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

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The Glass Shield
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The Glass Shield 1994 12

The first black recruit in his squad, rookie cop J.J. Johnson (Michael Boatman) struggles to adapt to life on the force, in this thrilling drama from acclaimed director Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep).

104 mins USA Director. Charles Burnett

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Trespass
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Trespass 1992 15

Rap legends Ice Cube and Ice-T share a screen for the first time as gang members facing off against firemen hunting for a stash of gold.

101 mins USA Director. Walter Hill

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Gridlock'd
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Gridlock'd 1996 18

Tupac Shakur’s penultimate film is his most impressive; a darkly humorous drama in which he takes a daring role as a heroin addict.

91 mins USA Director. Vondie Curtis Hall

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20 Feet from Stardom
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20 Feet from Stardom 2013 12

This moving documentary shines a spotlight on the backing singers behind some of the great musical hits of the 21st century.

91 mins USA Director. Morgan Neville

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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

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Deliver Us from Eva
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Deliver Us from Eva 2003 12

LL Cool J plays the ultimate player, hired to seduce the sister-in-law from hell.

106 mins USA Director. Gary Hardwick

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Eve's Bayou
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Eve's Bayou 1997 15

Samuel L. Jackson stars in this seething slice of Southern Gothic, about the travails of a Louisiana family bedevilled by infidelity, incest and witchcraft.

109 mins USA Director. Kasi Lemmons

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Girlhood
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Girlhood 2014 15

In the tough suburbs of Paris, sixteen-year-old Marieme decides to reinvent herself when she joins a girl gang.

113 mins France Director. Céline Sciamma

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A Screaming Man
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A Screaming Man 2010 PG

Haroun's tale of tension between a father and son working at a hotel pool in war-torn Chad has the emotional power and stark inexorability of tragedy

92 mins France Director. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

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Something New
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Something New 2006 PG

A high-flying black professional finally finds the man of her dreams, only for her family to disapprove because he’s a white guy.

100 mins USA Director. Sanaa Hamri

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Daddy's Little Girls
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Daddy's Little Girls 2007 12

Idris Elba’s kickstarted his Hollywood film career as a mechanic trying to win back his kids’ custody, in this melodrama from black auteur Tyler Perry.

100 mins USA Director. Tyler Perry

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The Best Man
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The Best Man 1999 15

Malcolm D. Lee set the standard for middle-class black comedy with this smart, chic feature about a best man whose indiscreet novel scuppers the wedding plans.

115 mins USA Director. Malcolm D. Lee

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Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11
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Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11 1949

American actor and singer Paul Robeson visits an Edinburgh colliery, where he regales miners with a rendition of 'I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night'.

10 mins United Kingdom Director. Peter Pickering

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The Black Emperor
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The Black Emperor 1949

Paul Robeson demonstrates his vocal talents in this short extract from Song of Freedom

United Kingdom

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King Solomon's Mines
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King Solomon's Mines 1937 U

The first adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s famous novel, featuring Paul Robeson as a usurped king accompanying Allan Quartermain on an African adventure.

77 mins United Kingdom Director. Geoffrey Barkas, Robert Stevenson

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Sanders of the River
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Sanders of the River 1935 U

Alexander Korda’s colonial epic was disowned by its star Paul Robeson, but became a pivotal film in his fight for screen representation.

85 mins United Kingdom Director. Zoltan Korda

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Body and Soul
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Body and Soul 1925 PG

Paul Robeson made an auspicious film debut in a twin-role, in this key work from pioneering black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.

USA Director. Oscar Micheaux

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The Proud Valley
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The Proud Valley 1940 PG

Deeply moving mining drama that provided the legendary American singer/actor Paul Robeson with his best British film role.

77 mins United Kingdom Director. Penrose Tennyson

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Song of Freedom
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Song of Freedom 1936

A black London docker becomes a famous opera singer in this stirring musical drama starring Paul Robeson

80 mins United Kingdom Director. J. Elder Wills

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One Love

One Love 2003 12

The legendary Don Letts directs this reggae romance about a rasta musician whose affair with a gospel-singing preacher’s daughter causes a stir in Kingston.

100 mins United Kingdom Director. Don Letts, Rick Elgood

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Black Girl
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Black Girl 1965 15

The first major work by African master Ousmane Sembène, about a Senegalese maid’s despair, brims with both New Wave vitality and African heart.

65 mins Senegal Director. Ousmane Sembène

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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

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Birthright

Birthright 1938 PG

Oscar Micheaux directs the story of a Harvard graduate whose attempts to establish a rural school runs into opposition from both races.

73 mins USA Director. Oscar Micheaux

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The Blood of Jesus

The Blood of Jesus 1941 PG

Spencer Williams feverish melodrama about a woman’s flirtation with Satan was independently produced out of Texas with an amateur cast and a budget of $5,000.

56 mins USA Director. Spencer Williams

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Within Our Gates

Within Our Gates 1920 12

Oscar Micheaux’s startling silent classic – the earliest surviving feature from an African-American director – presents a fascinating black counterpoint to Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.

73 mins USA Director. Oscar Micheaux

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For Queen and Country

For Queen and Country 1989 15

Denzel Washington stars as a British paratrooper who returns to the London council estate of his youth, only to find his wartime service counts for nothing.

105 mins United Kingdom Director. Martin Stellman

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