Black Star: Our new Festival strand to support the BFI's latest season

15 Jul 2016

4 mins
Boyz N the Hood
Boyz N the Hood

We are delighted to be supporting the BFI's new Black Star blockbuster season, with the inclusion of a special Black Star strand at our forthcoming Into Film Festival, 9 - 25 November. The BFI's Black Star programme promises to be the UK's biggest ever season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors.

Our Black Star Festival strand will embrace the BFI's direction of illuminating on-screen talent, and the films we've selected will feature contemporary British stars of black heritage, as well as actors from the African diaspora and from throughout film history that demonstrate a real range and depth of storytelling that will resonate with our young audience and are engaging and relevant for educators using film in the classroom.

According to the BFI: Black Star champions the achievements of black stars from the earliest years of cinema through to the present day, whilst exploring why opportunities to shine on screen have been historically limited for black actors. Black Star celebrates films that feature black actors in central roles, bringing their work to a new generation of UK audiences and helping to reposition them and their performances in our collective memory.

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.

Heather Stewart, Creative Director of the BFI

We at Into Film completely support the need to highlight and champion the achievements and influence of black filmmaking talent - and to nurture future talent and help ensure that opportunities are there for the next generation to flourish. As such, our overriding theme for the coming Autumn term will be Diversity, with Ethnicity being a major aspect of that, alongside Gender, Disability, Sexual Orientation and Socioeconomic Status.

The BFI's Black Star season will feature many elements, including spotlights on the classic leading men of Hollywood, from Sidney Poitier to Will Smith; the star as political activist, from Paul Robeson to Beyoncé; British home grown talent that has found success in the US, such as Idris Elba and Sophie Okenedo; and the story of new emerging talent, such as John Boyega and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Highlights will include the re-release of two major films into cinemas across the UK - Boyz n the Hood and In The Heat of the Nightwith a third soon to be announced. There will be over 275 screenings and events in over 90 locations across the UK, delivered through the BFI FAN and its partners.

The BFI will also be running a poll to discover the British public's Best Black Screen Performances of All Time, as well as running an agenda-setting Symposium event at the BFI London Film Festival, bringing together leading international filmmakers and industry professionals from both sides of the Atlantic to question why opportunities for black actors to shine on screen in the US and the UK remain limited and ask what more can be done to effect positive change.

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.

BFI Black Star Programmer, Ashley Clark

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