BFI launches ‘Black Star’ season in celebration of black screen actors
As we gear up to Black History Month in October, the good people at the British Film Institute have just announced that they’ll be celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors in the UK’s biggest ever season of film and television of its kind; Black Star.
From October to December, the legendary motion picture institute will be screening a number of film highlights including Boys N the Hood and In the Heat of the Night, hosting a Desmond’s reunion event, and holding a global symposium event examining on-screen representation.
Heather Stewart, Creative Director of the BFI, says of the special event:
“Imagine cinema history without Paul Robeson, Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Pam Grier, and Samuel L. Jackson – some of the greatest actors to light up our screens with their charisma and talent. Now imagine how much richer our shared memory would be, had the opportunities available to black actors matched their abilities. With Black Star we are celebrating great performances and bringing them back to the big screen for everyone to enjoy. And we are also asking searching questions, of our industry and of ourselves, driven by a passion to meet the expectations of audiences who rightly expect to see their stories and aspirations reflected on screen.”
Among numerous important focuses, the season will spotlight:
- The leading men of classic Hollywood cinema; from Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier to Jamie Foxx and the hugely popular Samuel L. Jackson
- Powerful and glamorous female stars who have created memorable big screen icons, from Dorothy Dandridge to Oscar-winning Halle Berry
- British home grown talent with star power who have gained international acclaim and found significant leading roles in the US: Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo and David Oyelowo
- The stars who have created a powerfully subversive take on the black star as entertainer; comedians including Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg and Eddie Murphy
- Black rebels and Blaxploitation icons; Mario van Peebles, Fred Williamson and Pam Grier
- A story of new and emerging talent, John Boyega, Michael B. Jordan, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Lupita Nyongo’o
Black Star Programmer Ashley Clark says: “Black Star shows us many stories of black stardom, on both sides of the Atlantic. From cinema’s earliest trail-blazers to today’s transatlantic stars, I’m excited for audiences to enjoy icons, heroes and heroines back on the big screen where they belong.”
The news coincides with this week’s announcement that the 2016 London Film Festival will open with the premiere of A United Kingdom, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike and directed by Amma Asante (Belle), and that one of the Festival’s headline galas will be Queen of Katwe, which also stars David Oyelowo alongside Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga, and is directed by Mira Nair.
Black Star will be available to audiences everywhere in the UK, in cinemas including BFI Southbank, on BBC Television, on DVD/Blu-ray and online via BFI Player from 17 October – 31 December, with further projects planned to celebrate the contribution of black practitioners working across film and TV in the coming years.