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Chronic Youth Film Festival 2022

Main Chronic Youth

UK/Brazil 2020, Dir. Jas Pitt & Kate Stonehill

12 – 13 March
Barbican Cinema 2

The Barbican Young Film Programmers (aged 15 to 25) have curated an international line-up of films for this year’s Chronic Youth Film Festival 2022 that challenge perspectives and question the themes of home, hope and hostility.

Taking place over the weekend of 12-13 Mar, the festival contemplates what ‘home’ means to those facing adversity around the world and here in the UK, and how young people are creating alternative families, where difference is celebrated.

The Young Film Programmers, say:

For the seventh edition of Chronic Youth Film Festival, we decided to put the spotlight on a question that is synonymous with youth and growing up, ‘What does home mean for me and to others’? Crossing different countries and genres, our programme explores this in the multiple senses of the word ‘home’: the questioning of our roots either because we want to escape them, or because they’re all we’ve got. Nostalgia is at the heart of what makes us 'feel at home’, and the future of our shared home, the Earth, is at risk of becoming inhabitable. We’re excited about this cohesive yet diverse selection of films that speak about a chronic human dilemma.’

The festival, which provides a platform for emerging filmmakers to reach new audiences and is supported by the Barbican’s Creative Learning - Cinema and Marketing teams, includes filmmaker Q&A’s and an open submission shorts programme.

Chronic Youth 2022 opens Sat 12 Mar with: Rooted: an exploration of ‘home’ in the face of an increasingly hostile environment. Specially curated by the Barbican Young Film Programmers, this is a collection of short films from the UK, focusing on communities and creators whose sense of home has been destabilised as a result of the recent ‘hostile environment’.

With many people spending more time at home since the pandemic struck, Rooted seeks to re-establish the meanings of ‘home’ and ‘community’ by showcasing the works of those continuously having to re-negotiate its terms.

Bantu Mama (2021, Dir. Ivan Herrera) from the Dominican Republic, is a bold and stylish film in which a French-Cameroonian woman is on the run from a drug deal gone wrong and finds shelter with three young siblings. Screening in a double-bill with Mother (UK/Brazil 2020, Dir Jas Pitt & Kate Stonehill), a documentary short about a young dancer from a vibrant Rio de Janeiro favela as they discover the art of ‘voguing’. Both films celebrate the power of chosen family and belonging when there is no one else to turn to.

The Festival continues on Sun 13 Mar with Crossroads (USA 2002, Dir Tamra Davis), a teenage classic (starring Britney Spears) that follows three girlfriends’ cross country road trip to find the importance of friendship and of remaining true to one’s heart. 

This is followed by the UK premiere of L’école de l’espoir (Morocco 2020, Dir. Mohamed El Aboudi), which looks at the nomadic Oulad Boukais Tribe (in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains), whose children walk miles to a tiny schoolhouse in the hope that education can prepare them for new ways of life. This poignant documentary navigates the foremost challenges of the modernising world at the intersection of social and environmental concerns.

Chronic Youth Film Festival 2022 closes with the debut film directed by and starring Amalia Ulman, El Planeta (Spain 2021), a playful tragicomedy about a mother-daughter duo in the face of eviction that riffs on class divide, the pitfalls of adulthood and the joys of the artificial.  

Chronic Youth Film Festival 2022 screenings:

Sat 12 Mar

Shorts programme:
Rooted: an exploration of ‘home’ in the face of an increasingly hostile environment
UK, Dir various,  60-70mins in total (tbc) with Q&A with directors
Sat 12 Mar, 4 pm, Cinema 2

Specially curated by Barbican Young Film Programmers, Rooted is a programme of short films from the UK focusing on communities and creators whose sense of home has been culturally and politically destabilised as a result of the 'hostile environment' and stretching back even further.

Having spent much of our time at home these past few years, Rooted seeks to re-establish the meanings of 'home' and 'community' by showcasing the works of those continuously reconfiguring the terms.

Bantu Mama and Mother:

Bantu Mama
Dominican Republic 2021, Dir. Ivan Herrera, 77 min, (15*)
Sat 12 Mar, 6.15 pm, Cinema 2  

Ivan Herrera's visually arresting tapestry through the predominantly Afro-Dominican barrios of Santo Domingo follows Emma as she seeks shelter with three young children in an unexpected household without parental figures.

Emma is confronted by motherhood and finds herself connected to the children through diasporic threads woven centuries prior. Of French-Cameroonian descent herself, music, dance and hair serve as languages to transcend the apparent divisions of nationality in this elegant feature.

+ Mother
UK/Brazil 2020, Dir. Jas Pitt & Kate Stonehill, 20 min

Shot in Brazil where it is increasingly dangerous to be visibly queer, the ballroom scene is where they seek acceptance and celebration, whilst forming an unforgettable relationship with their house mother Makayla.

Sun 13 Mar

USA 2002, Dir. Tamra Davis, 94 min, (PG) & intro by director tbc
Sun 13 Mar, 2 pm, Barbican Cinema 2

Tamra Davis’ polarising film is centred on high-school graduate Lucy (Britney Spears) and her journey to reconnect with her mother, while supporting her friends Kit (Zoe Saldana) and Mimi (Taryn Manning) in dealing with their own grief and experiences of abandonment. On the journey they find love, discover new talents and learn to break away from what causes them pain. 

Crossroads is a camp, feminist anthem with music and pure sweetness at its core, which delves deep into the transitional and decisive period that is young adulthood, begging the eternal question: who am I and where am I going?

L’école de l’espoir – UK Premiere
Morocco 2020, Dir. Mohamed El Aboudi Morocco, 78 minutes, (PG*)
Sun 13 Mar, 4.15 pm, Cinema 2

Dedicated teacher Mouloud is determined to provide his young nomadic students with an education and the future prospects that come with one, but this is not without its obstacles. Situated in the region East of the Atlas Mountains, the “school of hope” has no running water or electricity, and beyond the building is the harsh expanse of the desert, intensified by climate change, across which his students must trek everyday.

At home, they face gendered and financial pressures, and the choice between the delusory temptation of urban migration, or the abandonment of an ancestral lifestyle. Despite its remote, unique location, L’école de l’espoir navigates the foremost challenges of the modernising world at the intersection of social and environmental concerns.

El Planeta
Spain 2021, Dir. Amalia Ulman, 82 min, (15*)
Sun 13 Mar, 6.15 pm, Cinema 2

In the aftermath of her father's death, fashion student Leo (played by Ulman), returns to her hometown of Gíjon in Northern Spain, badly affected by the financial crash, where her mother is threatened with eviction. Joined by her real-life mother (Ale Ulman), the stylish duo attempt to keep up appearances around town, despite their impending tribulation.

Based off personal experiences as Argentinian immigrants in Northern Spain, the film follows the pair as they don fur coats, sample make up at the mall and plot to make ends meet. Embracing the daft and absurd, Ulman marries dark themes of contemporary poverty with the frivolity of life's daily amusements.

A singular and alluring gem from a contemporary voice, in El Planeta, Ulman proves that there is always more than what first meets the eye.

The Barbican believes in creating space for people and ideas to connect though its international arts programme, community events and learning activity. To keep its programme accessible to everyone, and to keep investing in the artists it works with, the Barbican needs to raise more than 60% of its income through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising every year.  Donations can be made here: