Barbican Cinema: John Akomfrah presents…

Barbican Cinema, Barbican Centre
John Akomfrah presents…
24 October - 4 January, Cinema 2
Box Office 0845 120 7527  

To complement his immersive six-channel video installation Purple in the Barbican Curve, Barbican Cinema presents John Akomfrah presents…, four films selected by British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah which have inspired his own work.

“Many films have influenced my work and life over the years, and some have had special significance. I am delighted to have this opportunity to present some of the films, by filmmakers who emerged as key figures of world cinema, that have had an indelible impact on my view of the world, and have inspired and shaped the direction of my work…” John Akomfrah


Far From Vietnam (15)
Tue 24 Oct 6.15pm, Cinema 2

France 1967 Dirs. Chris Marker, Jean Luc-Godard, Joris Ivens, Agnès Varda, William Klein, Alain Resnais and Claude Lelouch 115 min Digital presentation

Conceived and edited by Chris Marker (Sans Soleil), and overlaid with his inimitable voiceover, the film is laid out over eleven chapters and brings together contributions from six leading directors – among them Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, and Agnes Varda – diverse in their approaches but united in their opposition to US military involvement in Vietnam.

In each remarkable section, the filmmakers pursue and reflect on the contributions their own films might make to the struggle in Vietnam, asking how cinema might bridge our physical distance from the conflict and encourage solidarity from afar. A landmark in political filmmaking, the questions it asks both of cinema and political solidarities in general still resonate today.


Salvatore Giuliano (12A)
Wed 15 Nov 8.45pm, Cinema 2

Italy 1962 Dir Francesco Rosi 123 min Digital presentation

A landmark in Italian and political cinema, director Francesco Rosi’s undisputed masterpiece. 5 July 1950, Salvatore Giuliano, Italy’s most wanted criminal and celebrated hero, is found shot dead in a sun-baked courtyard. Who killed him, why, and who was he really? Based on rigorous research, shot on the exact real-life locations, and featuring a cast of mostly local non-professionals (some of whom knew the actual man), the film reconstructs, docu-drama-style, key moments from Giuliano’s life. Opening with the discovery of his corpse, it shuttles back and forth in time, building up a meticulous, multi-perspective portrait. As the film unfolds, it also becomes, in essence, an investigative portrait of Sicily itself, revealing the terrible collusion of the local population, Mafia, and government officials. For this reason, it sparked huge controversy in Italy on first release, but was just as quickly hailed as a brilliant and important film, politically and artistically.  


Memories of Underdevelopment (15)
Tue 12 Dec 8.45pm, Cinema 2

Cuba 1968 Dir Tomás Gutiérrez Alea 104 min Digital presentation

This seminal film shows Cuba at a critical moment in its history, and offers an insightful reflection on what it’s like to be an outsider at a time of change. Set in 1961, the film unfolds between the exodus after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion and the missile crisis of the following year. Sergio, a wealthy man, stays behind while the rest of his family leaves for the States. Sceptical of the promises of a new Cuba, he feels alone in a brave new world, unable either to leave or to come to terms with the changes happening around him. The film leaves us to ponder who or what is “undeveloped” in the scenario it presents: Sergio himself, as citizen and human being, or the state of the nation in the aftermath of the Batista regime? It was the subtlety and sophistication of its political analysis – exceptional in a product of Cuba’s state-sponsored film industry of the time – plus its stylistic virtuosity, which led this film to become the first from post-revolutionary Cuba to gain widespread international acclaim. 


The Night of Counting the Years (aka The Mummy) (15*)
Thu 4 Jan 6.15pm, Cinema 2

Egypt 1969 Dir Chadi Abdel Salam 102 min Digital presentation

Presented here in a digital restoration by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, this Egyptian classic was recently voted the greatest ever movie from the Arab world. 1881, Thebes – burial place of the Pharaohs. The Horabat mountain tribe have lived for generations by stripping artefacts from a tomb known only to themselves, and selling them on the black market. When the current chief dies, his two sons learn for the first time about the trade, and are thrown into moral chaos: reveal the secret to the authorities, or preserve what the tribesmen consider to be their natural heritage?

The film casts this story in terms of the search for an authentic, lost Egyptian national identity, while leaving open questions about desecration, veneration, and what exactly our debt should be to the past. Unusual camera angles, striking colours and an unsettling score contribute to making this what Scorsese has called “an entrancing and oddly moving experience.”



Notes to Editors

For further information contact:
Sarah Harvey Publicity: 020 7732 7790
Sarah Harvey:
Hayley Willis:

Ticket prices: Box Office: 0845 120 7527

* Local Classification
# Certificate to be confirmed