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Chronic Youth Film Festival 2020

the barbican chronic youth programmers looking at the camera

Chronic Youth Film Festival 2020 (3–13 Oct)

The Barbican Young Programmers (aged between 16 and 25) have curated an international roster of films for Chronic Youth Film Festival 2020. Originally scheduled to take place in March and delayed due to the pandemic, the team rose to the challenge and have re-worked the programme to fit into a hybrid model of in-venue and online screenings and events, in Cinema 1 and on Barbican Cinema on Demand, taking place between Sat 3 and Tue 13 Oct.

The festival champions overlooked narratives and explores how young people carve out spaces for themselves within communities against hostile or indifferent social and political landscapes.

Young Programmer Allissa Tai says:
Even though it was disappointing to postpone the event, it has been a great opportunity to learn new digital formats and reimagine how events may take place - I’ve been really enjoying watch parties and director Q&As over lockdown and considering how we may host similar events for the Chronic Youth Film Festival.’
Programme highlights includes the UK premiere of Q’s Barbershop (Denmark 2019, Dir Emil Langballe), a captivating insight into black masculinity from a Danish barber shop, with Qasim Ahmen (the main subject of the documentary) and Peter Atakpoin (a London barbershop owner) in attendance for a post-screening discussion;

Una banda de chicas (Argentina, 2019, Dir Marilina Giménez), a sonically charged exploration of all-women bands in Argentina; and Twilight City (UK, 1989), by Black Audio Film Collective, a poetic rumination on London’s rapid physical and social change during the 1980s, from the perspective of black and Asian communities. This features personal recollections from journalists and academics including Homi Bhabha, Paul Gilroy and George Shire (the latter will be taking part in a Q&A).

Screening in the same programme is Dear Babylon (UK, 2019), by the promising young filmmaker Ayo Akingbade - who will also be taking part in the Q&A - which explores the current insecurities of social housing in London and its effect on young people.

The dual difficulties of adolescence and grief are explored in Land of Ashes (Costa Rica, 2019), a poetic debut feature from Sofia Quiros Ubeda, which was selected for Cannes Critics Week 2019 and is about the life of a young woman trying to come to terms with her mother’s untimely death.

The Young Programmers have also curated Reel Short Takes, an exciting collection of shorts (available for free on Barbican Cinema on Demand) invited to respond to the theme of Inside Out; an exploration of the relationship between our inner lives and outward expressions of creativity.

The Festival closes with A First Farewell (China, 2018,) the debut film from Xinjiang born filmmaker Lina Wang about two young Uighur children from North-western China who are experiencing their childhoods in a minority community and are already aware of the state policies working against them. This will be followed with a post-screening discussion with Dr Rachel Harris, a professor at SOAS whose research includes Uyghur culture, and Rahima Mahmut, a Uyghur human rights activist.

The Barbican is now recruiting for the next cohort of Young Film Programmers to deliver Chronic Youth events in 2021. Details about how to apply can be found here:

Chronic Youth Film Festival 2020 screenings 

Land of Ashes (Costa Rica 2019, Dir Sofia Quiros Ubeda 82 min) (15*) 
Available on Cinema on Demand from Sat 3 Oct 10 am - 9.59 am Tue 13 Oct

Sofia Quiros Ubeda follows her acclaimed short film Selva (2017) with this poetic debut feature. In the wake of her mother’s death, young Selva must navigate the enigmatic world around her.

Caught between childhood and adolescence, Selva searches for a strong female role model for guidance. With only her elderly dependent grandfather and his flirty girlfriend around, she seeks a mystical means of comfort. This philosophical interpretation of the coming-of-age genre is interwoven with dream-like meditations on grief, loss and hope
Selected for Cannes Critics Week 2019.

Reel Short Takes (12A*)
Available on Cinema on Demand from Sat 3 Oct 10 am  – 9.59 am Tue 13 Oct

To celebrate emerging talent, the Barbican Young Programmers invited submissions from short-filmmakers in response to the theme of Inside Out; an exploration of the relationship between our inner lives and outward expressions of creativity. Offering up diverse perspectives on overcoming hardship, these films are as experimental as they are intimate and cast a shrewd light on society.
This event is accompanied by a short intro from the filmmakers.

Q's Barbershop (15)* + Q&A with Qasim Ahmen + Peter Atakpo
2019 Denmark Dir Emil Langballe 60 min
Available on Cinema on Demand from Sat 3 Oct 10 am  – 9.59 am Tue 13 Oct

Situated in the housing estate of Vollsmose, Denmark, Emil Langballe lends his camera to barbershop owner Qasim, a hardworking entrepreneur and community anchor. This intimate and warm hearted documentary paints the breadth of black masculinity with rich and vibrant colours.

It showcases the importance of community endeavors to survival and joy as the barbershop becomes a second home to local east African men of all ages.

Qasim Ahmen (the main subject in the documentary) and London barbershop owner and Barbershop Chronicles consultant Peter Atakpo, will be taking part in a Q&A after the film.

Una Banda de Chicas (15*)
2019 Argentina Dir Marilina Giménez 83 min
Available on Cinema on Demand from Sat 3 Oct 10 am  – 9.59 am Tue 13 Oct

Marilinia Giménez’s debut documentary takes us on a sonically charged exploration of all-women bands in Argentina’s male dominated music industry.

Personal interviews are interspersed with diverse live performances as we travel through sub-cultures which are reshaping the scene.

From dingy basements thumping with reggaeton and punk rock to bustling protests about reproductive rights, radical politics take centre-stage in this inspiring portrait of female bands rebelling against the patriarchy.

Twilight City (15*) + Dear Babylon (15*) + panel discussion with George Shire and Ayo Akingbade
Sat 3 Oct 2020, 16:00, Barbican Cinema 1

Twilight City
1989 UK Black Audio Film Collective 52 min
This 1989 film by the Black Audio Film Collective is a poetic rumination on the overlooked history of othered identities in London. A young black woman, Octavia, writes a letter to her mother Eugenia, who wants to return to London after years in Dominica. 

This piece challenges the visual language of documentary by deconstructing London’s architectural landscape. The city becomes a stage on which Britain's relationship with the postcolonial world is made visible, highlighting that migrant history is inextricable from the city's identity.

+ Dear Babylon 
2019 UK Ayo Akingbade 23 min

After the implementation of a bill that promises to erase social housing, a group of friends who live on an estate decide to make a documentary. Exploring the space between documentary and fiction, exciting young filmmaker Ayo Akingbade comments on the precarity of social housing.

A First Farewell + panel discussion with Dr Rachel Harris + activist Rahima Mahmut  (15*)
2018 China Dir Lina Wang 86 min
Sun 4 Oct 2020, 16:00, Barbican Cinema 1

This is a stunning directorial debut from Xinjiang born filmmaker Lina Wang. Isa and Kalbinur – two young Uighur children from North-eastern China – experience their childhood in a minority community on the backdrop of state-enforced Mandarin-based teaching at school.

Coupled with the uncomfortable path to adolescence and trouble at home, these children come into unwelcome independence as they learn about loss within a lush rural landscape. Wang is able to capture with respect, the joys and sorrows embedded in these children’s lives.

This screening will be followed by a Q&A with Dr Rachel Harris, a professor at SOAS whose research includes Uyghur culture, and Rahima Mahmut, a Uyghur human rights activist.

Barbican Cinema on Demand is supported by the BFI FAN Resilience Fund, awarding National Lottery funding, and the Mayor of London's Culture at Risk business support fund.

Ticket prices: 
Box office: 020 7638 8891
Barbican Cinema 1 :
Standard ticket price: £12/ Members: £9.60/ Concessions: £11/ Young Barbican: £5

Barbican Cinema on Demand
Pay per view: Full: £6.00 | Young Barbican: £4.00 | Barbican Members £4.80