Preview: Celebrate Black History Month With These Films At The 2018 BFI London Film Festival

on Wednesday, October 10, 2018
BFI London Film Festival 2018 (10-21 October 2018) // Words: Lauren Johnson-Ginn & Saam Das


The 62nd BFI London Film Festival kicks off today, with 'Widows' as its Opening Night Gala. As mentioned in our recent music-focussed preview of the LFF 2018, Steve McQueen's new effort is a tantalizing prospect, and an appropriate Opening Night Gala as the Oscar winner hails from London. As one of the industry's (sadly rare) successful black directors, it is also appropriate considering October is Black History Month in the UK. We've put together a list of some other appropriate films to help celebrate BHM at this year's LFF.

'Been So Long'



Netflix continues to carve its way into the cinema with this intriguing adaptation of a 2009 funk and soul-influenced musical that saw its debut at the Young Vic in 2009. Director Tinge Krishnan reimagines the story for film with Michaela Coel (who’s currently dominating the small screen in the BBC’s sensational 'Black Earth Rising') in the lead role as a single mother who meets a charming yet troubled stranger on a night out.

'If Beale Street Could Talk'



Having won the Academy Award for Best Picture for 2016’s acclaimed 'Moonlight', director Barry Jenkins returns – to much anticipation – with this promising 70s-set crime drama, starring newcomer KiKi Layne as a young, pregnant woman in Harlem burdened with the task of proving her fiancé innocent of a heinous crime.

'Make Me Up'



As part of the 2018 LFF’s Experimenta strand, 'Make Me Up', directed by Scottish multi-media artist Rachel Maclean, hints at being weird – and potentially wonderful – in its surreal, sherbet-coloured trailer. Described as ‘feminist sci-fi’, the film takes aim at the traditionally male-dominated sphere of art criticism, with a diverse cast and spectacular make-up and costumes – it could be a real visual treat.

'MR. SOUL!'



It's almost hard to believe that the late 1960s saw a prominent American TV variety show that celebrated black culture but the Ellis Haizlip-presented 'SOUL!' fit that exact bracket, with truly special guests including Sidney Poitier and Stevie Wonder. This documentary profiles the pioneering programme and its openly gay presenter, providing (soul) food for thought.

'Sorry To Bother You'



US rapper-writer-director Boots Riley recently hit headlines for his takedown of Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman' but his dark-yet-absurd satire 'Sorry To Bother You' has also been wowing audiences across the pond. A late addition to the 2018 LFF ahead of a wider UK release in December, Riley will also be taking part in a special LFF Connects talk at the Festival.

'Support The Girls'



For anyone who fell in love with Regina Hall in last year’s hilariously raucous 'Girls Trip' (will we ever get over learning about ‘grapefruiting’?), this comedy offers a chance to watch her in leading lady form again as Lisa, the general manager of ‘Double Whammies’ – a sports bar with scantily-clad waitresses – as she navigates one especially trying day at the office.

'What You Gonna Do When The World's On Fire?'



Ending this collection of films on Roberto Minervini's documentary might be something of a dampener but equally, it's as important and relevant (if not more) a film as any at the Festival. A black-and-white offering that examines a series of African-American communities in the South, in the wake of particularly prominent deaths of black Americans at the hands of the police in 2017. Black Lives Matter.

Find more info and purchase last minute tickets for the 2018 BFI London Film Festival at bfi.org.uk/lff.

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