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.
Sorry to Bother You
Comedy2018111 minsDirector: Boots Riley
A mild-mannered call centre operator whizzes up the corporate ladder after he discovers a unique ability to adopt a "white voice" in writer-director Boots Riley's breathlessly inventive satire.
Drama2017143 minsDirector: Kathryn Bigelow
John Boyega excels as the security guard caught up in a violent conflagration during the riots of 1967, in Kathryn Bigelow's blistering thriller.
Comedy201895 minsDirector: Carlos López Estrada
While on probation, a man begins to re-evaluate his relationship with his volatile best friend, in this electrifying Sundance hit.
Drama2018135 minsDirector: Spike Lee
Spike Lee's stunning crime drama tells the stranger-than-fiction true story of an African-American police officer who infiltrated the KKK in the 1970s.
Monsters and Men
Drama201896 minsDirector: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Unravelling the aftermath of a police killing of a black man - and how it affects the lives of three separate individuals. With John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman).
I Am Not Your Negro
Documentary201694 minsDirector: Raoul Peck
Raoul Peck’s penetrating and acclaimed documentary reconstructs an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin, chronicler of America’s Civil Rights Movement.
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
Documentary2017115 minsDirector: Sophie Fiennes
Grace Jones is laid bare in this intimate and electrifying insight into the fascinating world of a pop-cultural phenomenon.
Crime2016104 minsDirector: Noel Clarke
A decade after the release of Adulthood, Sam (Noel Clarke) is trying to keep his family safe while simmering old grudges threaten to resurface.
Drama200591 minsDirector: Menhaj Huda
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.
Drama200899 minsDirector: Noel Clarke
After being released from prison following a murder charge, Sam Peel (Noel Clarke) attempts to reboot his life and seek redemption.
Documentary2018120 minsDirector: Kevin Macdonald
Stunning revelations and captivating reminiscences paint a picture of the extraordinary life of singer Whitney Houston, in this in-depth portrait by acclaimed filmmaker Kevin MacDonald (Touching the Void, Marley).
Whitney: Can I Be Me
Documentary2017101 minsDirector: Nick Broomfield
Documentary titan Nick Broomfield turns his gaze to the troubled pop star whose sensational voice masked an inner identity crisis.
12 Years a Slave
Biopic2013134 minsDirector: Steve McQueen
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender star in Steve McQueen’s fearless, Oscar-winning story of a free man who’s sold into slavery.
Crime2015115 minsDirector: John Hillcoat
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson make up the heavyweight cast for John Hillcoat’s (The Proposition) stunning heist thriller.
Half of a Yellow Sun
Drama2012111 minsDirector: Biyi Bandele-Thomas
Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor star in the acclaimed adaption of the Orange Prize-winning novel.
Drama2016111 minsDirector: Barry Jenkins
Winner of the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture (eventually!), Barry Jenkins’ intoxicating drama follows the furtive life of a gay black boy through 80s Miami.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Drama201293 minsDirector: Benh Zeitlin
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
Crime2007157 minsDirector: Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott’s heavyweight crime drama follows the rise and fall of drug-runner Frank Lucas, commandingly portrayed by Denzel Washington.
Comedy198193 minsDirector: Oz Scott
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.
Industry sponsored film1978114 minsDirector: Paul Schrader
Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel star in Paul Schrader’s great, gritty 1970s drama, one of the rare Hollywood films to tackle American labour.
Comedy1985101 minsDirector: Walter Hill
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.
Fantasy1978134 minsDirector: Sidney Lumet
NYC becomes Oz in the cult, urban reimagining of the family favourite, featuring an all-African American cast including Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
Imitation of Life
Melodrama1959125 minsDirector: Douglas Sirk
Douglas Sirk’s final Hollywood film is a masterpiece of melodrama, for which Juanita Moore became the fifth African-American Oscar-nominee.
Night of the Living Dead
Horror196896 minsDirector: George A. Romero
Landmark film from 'zombie godfather' Romero, whose makeshift heroes fight for their lives against a new and terrifying enemy.
Attack the Block
Crime201188 minsDirector: Joe Cornish
Aliens wage war on a tower block after one of their number is bludgeoned by a street gang in this witty, action-packed feature debut by Joe Cornish.
Sport201291 minsDirector: Regan Hall
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.
The Glass Shield
Drama1994110 minsDirector: Charles Burnett
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).
Crime1992101 minsDirector: Walter Hill
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.
Drama199691 minsDirector: Vondie Curtis Hall
Tupac Shakur’s penultimate film is his most impressive; a darkly humorous drama in which he takes a daring role as a heroin addict.
20 Feet from Stardom
Documentary201387 minsDirector: Morgan Neville
This moving documentary shines a spotlight on the backing singers behind some of the great musical hits of the 21st century.
1988113 minsDirector: Laurens C. Postma
Big Audio Dynamite’s Don Letts made his acting debut in this gripping, gritty 1990 drama of dreads, drugs, and music business corruption.
Drama1997115 minsDirector: Kasi Lemmons
Samuel L. Jackson stars in this seething slice of Southern Gothic, about the travails of a Louisiana family bedevilled by infidelity, incest and witchcraft.
Crime1994154 minsDirector: Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino’s crackling crime classic still retains its swagger as one of the great American films of recent decades.
A Screaming Man
Drama201087 minsDirector: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
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
2006100 minsDirector: Sanaa Hamri
A high-flying black professional finally finds the man of her dreams, only for her family to disapprove because he’s a white guy.
Daddy's Little Girls
200796 minsDirector: Tyler Perry
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.
The Best Man
Comedy1999120 minsDirector: Malcolm D. Lee
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.
Daughters of the Dust
Drama1991112 minsDirector: Julie Dash
Julie Dash’s groundbreaking Daughters of the Dust remains urgent and poetic and continues to resonate, most recently inspiring Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Horror201697 minsDirector: Michael O’Shea
Milo isn't your usual introverted, strange teenager; he also believes he's a vampire. Michael O'Shea's dark drama presents a transgressive twist on the teen vampire tale.
Southside with You
Biopic201684 minsDirector: Richard Tanne
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.
Drama2015114 minsDirector: Michael Caton-Jones
In the wake of the London riots, teenager Jamie (Letitia Wright) finds herself at a crossroads; until music offers an unexpected path to salvation.
Comedy201694 minsDirector: Sheridan De Myers
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.
Dreams of a Life
Documentary201191 minsDirector: Carol Morley
Carol Morley's drama-documentary investigates the tragic death of a woman whose body lay undetected for almost three years.
A United Kingdom
Drama2016111 minsDirector: Amma Asante
Amma Assante (Belle) directs this impassioned drama starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike depicting an interracial romance that changed the world.
Biopic2014128 minsDirector: Ava DuVernay
David Oyelowo’s stunning performance as Martin Luther King Jr. adorns this gripping account of the campaign that changed the course of American civil rights.
Period drama2017113 minsDirector: Warwick Thornton
Australian director Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah) brings a vital Indigenous perspective and great cinematic vision to this powerful, revisionist Western, with Sam Neill and Bryan Brown.
For Colored Girls
Drama2010134 minsDirector: Tyler Perry
An ensemble cast including Janet Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg bring to life Ntozake Shange's extraordinary 1975 play about the experiences of black women.
Drama201572 minsDirector: Anna Rose Holmer
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.
Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Documentary201775 minsDirector: Sara Driver
The story of how one of the 20th century's most important artists emerged from the post-punk, b-boy and graffiti scenes of late '70s New York.