Menelik Shabbaz all dayer at BFI Southbank

Saturday 25th June 1pm-6pm

When African Odysseys began 15 years ago as a rolling programme of talks and screenings of films by and about the peoples of Africa and its diaspora, a key inspiration was film maker and cultural activist, Menelik Shabazz.

Throughout our existence we explored his work and previewed and premiered key titles such as The Story of Lovers Rock (2011) (complete version) and Looking for Love (2015) (world premiere), both films to full audiences. We also commemorated in 2011 and 2021, the remarkable achievement of his drama debut, Burning an Illusion (1982) in which the emotional struggles of a young woman and her lover are intertwined with the racial and social oppression around them. Once again, we are delighted to include the restored version of this seminal film in our current focus.

From his early years as an emerging film maker in the 70’s, working both alone but also as part of the workshop movement, his aim like ours, was to create a platform in which the broad community (rather than just the film-educated) could both see themselves and share their experience on screen and in discussion. In this season, marking a year in the passing of this warm and dedicated film maker we are showing a selection of both his most popular but also less well known but important titles, spanning genres and dealing with popular culture, hidden history and the everyday politics of prejudice and injustice experienced and resisted by the African diaspora community. Special thanks to Khemi Shabazz for her support with this programme.

Menelik Shabazz: For the People Join friends, fellow activists and film makers for a selection of extracts and complete film screenings as tribute to film maker, Menelik Shabazz. During the day, film makers and workshop collaborators will present some of his less well known work. Titles to screen in full will include Step Forward Youth (1977), his first film, Hidden Empire (1996) his account of Paul Bogle and the Morant Bay massacre in Jamaica and The Hand of Ken (2020) his portrait of artist Ken McKalla who worked on Time and Judgement. UK, Barbados. 1988. Dir Menelik Shabazz. 85mins. This will screen at the end of the day and is an extraordinary chronicle of the international tribulations and triumphs of the diaspora peoples of Africa during the last century. Fusing poetry, art, archive and drama, it creates a unique visionary experience.

SAT 25 JUNE 13:00-18:00 NFT3

SPECIAL EVENT + Discussion (TBA) Burning an Illusion. UK 1982. Dir Menelik Shabazz. With Cassie McFarlane, Victor Romero-Evans, Beverley Martin, Janet Kay

Produced and released at a time of great injustice and the widespread struggle for civil rights, this powerful coming of age tale follows the story of a young woman’s emerging political and emotional development. Made at the time of the New Cross massacre its urgent message of the need for

awareness on a personal but also a social level, is no less urgent a message today. It’s also a fine reminder of the richness of Black music culture, of Lover’s Rock and of a vibrant and conscious Reggae culture in which women played such a prominent role. This restored version (for later release on Blue Ray) presents the film in its original splendour.

Restored ground – breaking drama debut following a young woman’s passionate and challenging journey to enlightenment

The Story of Lovers Rock. UK 2011. Dir Menelik Shabazz. With Dennis Bovell, Paulette Harris-German, Janet Kay. 100mins. + Intro with author, Kevin Le Gendre* A highlight of Menelik Shabazz’s career, this documentary charts a key genre of black British music. In the ‘70s and ‘80s lovers rock provided the soundtrack to West Indian social life, fostering distinct forms of fashion as well as dance. Musicians Dennis Bovell and Janet Kay as well as comedian Angie Le Mar are among the many contributors who shed light on a home grown phenomenon that had worldwide appeal.

Documentary exploring the social and musical roots of the emotional music genre, Lovers Rock

Looking for Love. UK 2015. Dir Menelik Shabazz. With Kojo 109min. Digital. + Discussion

In one of his last films, Menelik Shabazz explores love, relationships and intimacy across the generations in the Black community. Using a mixture of interviews and group debates in this insightful documentary feature, the director covers the good, the bad and the in-between when it comes to Black love for the big screen.

Tickets from www.bfi.org.uk

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Reviews of Black History Walks, Tours & Talks

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Extremely informative and made it seem all really relevant

I just wanted to let you know that the students REALLY enjoyed the tour yesterday. I polled them in class and everyone overwhelmingly had positive things to say. They particularly enjoyed how you incorporated modern day information into the tour. They said it was extremely informative and made it seem all really relevant. And today it was great listening to them as they walked around central London, noticing some of the things you'd pointed out. So, your work was very well received. Well done and thank you!

Lori Tharps, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Journalism, Temple University, USA

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T12:12:20+01:00

Lori Tharps, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Journalism, Temple University, USA

I just wanted to let you know that the students REALLY enjoyed the tour yesterday. I polled them in class and everyone overwhelmingly had positive things to say. They particularly enjoyed how you incorporated modern day information into the tour. They said it was extremely informative and made it seem all really relevant. And today it was great listening to them as they walked around central London, noticing some of the things you'd pointed out. So, your work was very well received. Well done and thank you!

Best element of the trip

You may hear this often, but many of my students named your tour as the best element of the trip last time.

Nancy Comerau, Assistant Professor of English, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T12:28:53+01:00

Nancy Comerau, Assistant Professor of English, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

You may hear this often, but many of my students named your tour as the best element of the trip last time.

Absolutely brilliant lecture and walk yesterday

Absolutely brilliant lecture and walk yesterday. Students were really energized. Thanks so much.

Bill Mullen, Professor of English and American Studies, Purdue University, USA

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:27:53+01:00

Bill Mullen, Professor of English and American Studies, Purdue University, USA

Absolutely brilliant lecture and walk yesterday. Students were really energized. Thanks so much.

A rich and detailed learning experience

Our guide's encyclopedic knowledge of the area, and his passion for black history, made for a rich and detailed learning experience. He was friendly and engaging, frequently involving the students in dialogue and relating his points to places and subjects that are familiar to them. The students were fascinated throughout and learned a great deal. We recommend this tour most highly!

Rebecca Whisnant, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Director of Women's and Gender Studies, University of Dayton, USA

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:28:21+01:00

Rebecca Whisnant, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Director of Women's and Gender Studies, University of Dayton, USA

Our guide's encyclopedic knowledge of the area, and his passion for black history, made for a rich and detailed learning experience. He was friendly and engaging, frequently involving the students in dialogue and relating his points to places and subjects that are familiar to them. The students were fascinated throughout and learned a great deal. We recommend this tour most highly!

The children talk about it for a long time afterwards

I would really like to book two black history walk dates around St Pauls and the Barbican for our two year 6 classes. We have done them for the last two years and the children always learn such a lot and talk about it for a long time afterwards.

Helen Davies, Head of Year 6, John Scurr School, Tower Hamlets

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:29:08+01:00

Helen Davies, Head of Year 6, John Scurr School, Tower Hamlets

I would really like to book two black history walk dates around St Pauls and the Barbican for our two year 6 classes. We have done them for the last two years and the children always learn such a lot and talk about it for a long time afterwards.

I could not have asked for a better supplement to my Sociology course on race, identity, and culture

Thank you for organizing a wonderful walking tour for my students. You are incredibly knowledgeable, and it was such a joy to hear your take on things. The students loved this field trip. You did an excellent job relating the history, culture, and social contributions of Black and Afro-Caribbean people in a fun and lively way while still emphasizing the seriousness and importance of this often overlooked aspect of British life. I could not have asked for a better supplement to my Sociology course on race, identity, and culture. I really appreciate you helping make the class so special and look forward to arranging another.

William Force, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Western New England University

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:31:05+01:00

William Force, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Western New England University

Thank you for organizing a wonderful walking tour for my students. You are incredibly knowledgeable, and it was such a joy to hear your take on things. The students loved this field trip. You did an excellent job relating the history, culture, and social contributions of Black and Afro-Caribbean people in a fun and lively way while still emphasizing the seriousness and importance of this often overlooked aspect of British life. I could not have asked for a better supplement to my Sociology course on race, identity, and culture. I really appreciate you helping make the class so special and look forward to arranging another.

Engaging, moving, will keep you asking more questions.

What an amazing tour! It completely moved me to rethink the intricate web of social, economic and political relations that characterize British imperial rule and racial politics. Engaging, moving, will keep you asking more questions. The best way to get to know London.

Alai Reyes-Santos, Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of Oregon

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:32:29+01:00

Alai Reyes-Santos, Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of Oregon

What an amazing tour! It completely moved me to rethink the intricate web of social, economic and political relations that characterize British imperial rule and racial politics. Engaging, moving, will keep you asking more questions. The best way to get to know London.

Nothing but positive feedback

The audience and the panellists had some incredibly positive feedback about your presentation. It went down so well and was an brilliant combination of information, revelation and humour. There were also a number of attendees whose firms or companies had organised a Black History Walk with yourself and also had nothing but positive feedback

Sharon Takhar, Origin Network, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

Black History Walks
5
2020-08-19T16:34:16+01:00

Sharon Takhar, Origin Network, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

The audience and the panellists had some incredibly positive feedback about your presentation. It went down so well and was an brilliant combination of information, revelation and humour. There were also a number of attendees whose firms or companies had organised a Black History Walk with yourself and also had nothing but positive feedback

It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it for all

A brisk, informative stroll through the heart of the British Empire. Our cheerful and intellectually generous tour guide, led us through narrow alleyways and past Roman ruins, within halls constructed by powerful guilds; in the process, he revealed to us both the many layers of British history and the often unacknowledged cultural multiplicity at its core. The tour was exciting, informative and allowed everyone across age, interest, and temperament to participate and learn. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it for all.

Professor Caroline Brown, University of Montreal, Canada

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T11:38:44+01:00

Professor Caroline Brown, University of Montreal, Canada

A brisk, informative stroll through the heart of the British Empire. Our cheerful and intellectually generous tour guide, led us through narrow alleyways and past Roman ruins, within halls constructed by powerful guilds; in the process, he revealed to us both the many layers of British history and the often unacknowledged cultural multiplicity at its core. The tour was exciting, informative and allowed everyone across age, interest, and temperament to participate and learn. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it for all.

A truly inspiring day

A truly inspiring day, filled with information I may have NEVER been aware of, if it was not for attending this walk. The friendly intellectually amazing tour guide relayed facts that I would have had to research for months to be aware of. I would URGE any and everyone, of all ages to attend - a great, fun, educational day out.

Isschara Maxine, London

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T11:44:18+01:00

Isschara Maxine, London

A truly inspiring day, filled with information I may have NEVER been aware of, if it was not for attending this walk. The friendly intellectually amazing tour guide relayed facts that I would have had to research for months to be aware of. I would URGE any and everyone, of all ages to attend - a great, fun, educational day out.
5
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Black History Walks
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