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Chronic Youth Film Festival ( 27 & 28 April, 2024)

Ansell69 dir Theo Montoya

Chronic Youth Film Festival returns to Barbican Cinemas with a bold and exciting programme entitled OUT-OF-ORDER: A series of films about misdemeanours and transgressions. From messy encounters to lyrical dreamscapes, this ninth edition of the festival curated and delivered by Barbican Young Programmers includes four features and a programme of shorts which ask: when ways of living, being and resisting are under threat, how can people reassert their agency and reclaim their narratives?

Now in its ninth year, the Barbican Young Film Programmers scheme is a free, six-month programme aimed at 16-to-25-year-olds, who are passionate about film and eager to learn more about curating, marketing and delivering the Chronic Youth Film Festival at the Barbican.

This year’s 11 Young Programmers are being guided by course leader, Isra Al Kassi an experienced programmer and co-founder of T A P E Collective (who took part in the first Young Programmers scheme), plus film industry guests and curators and producers from the Barbican’s Cinema and Creative Collaboration teams.

Taking place over the last weekend of April, the festival kicks off in Cinemas 2 and 3 on Beech Street with Gaston Kaboré’s Zan Boko on Saturday 27 April. At once a celebration of ancestral traditions in agrarian Burkinabé societies, and a fierce critique of rampant urbanisation and media censorship in 1980s Burkina Faso, Kaboré’s film is considered by many to be a masterpiece of Burkinabé cinema. The screening will be preceded by a live poetry reading by a Barbican Young Poet.

Saturday continues with the sensorial feature debut by acclaimed Indigenous video artist Fox Maxy. Her electrifying Gush is made entirely from the filmmaker’s personal archive, created over almost 10 years where the spirit of the ages radiates a profound sense of spiritual divinity. In the spirit of Fox Maxy’s DIY ethos, the screening will be followed by a collage-making activity and DJ set. The first day wraps with Theo Montoya’s award-winning Anhell69a ‘trans cinema’ that follows no rules. This dazzling tapestry of young queer life in the director’s hometown of Medellín, Colombia, weaves fiction and documentary into a rumination on grief, friendship and sexuality.  

Sunday opens with ‘Joyful Lands, Joyful Bodies’, a programme of genre-bending shorts from local and global, emerging and established filmmakers, including a Q&A with some of the filmmakers present. For the closing film, the festival moves over the road to Barbican Cinema 1 to present the UK Premiere of the new 4K restoration of Nowhere, Gregg Araki’s 1997 cult film about apathetic, eccentric, and sexually uninhibited teens as they traverse Los Angeles to get to the hottest party of the year, followed by a panel discussion about music in film. 

The Barbican Young Programmers say: 

This has been a truly wonderful and collaborative process, among ourselves and with our course leader Isra Al Kassi, and Barbican staff. We’re so proud of the programme – it’s disruptive, playful and thoughtful, and showcases films from around the world that resist and reshape the life around us. Please come and join us on this journey.”


Zan Boko (12A) + Live Poetry Reading from a Barbican Young Poet
Burkina Faso 1988, dir Gaston Kaboré, 102min

Sat 27 Apr, 1.30pm 
Cinema 3

In the Mooré language of Burkina Faso, Zan Boko translates to ‘place where the placenta is buried’, symbolising each generation's sacred bond with the land. Kaboré’s sensitive, and at times satirical film follows Tinga, a rural farmer attempting to defend his native land from absurd postcolonial urban expansion, and Yabré, a headstrong TV journalist facing censorship from the corrupt government as he tries to expose the injustice Tinga’s community is facing. 

Gush (15)
USA 2023, dir Fox Maxy, 71min

Sat 27 Apr, 4pm
Cinema 3

Embark on an electrifying journey through Fox Maxy’s visualised consciousness as she joins a new and curious ‘Zillenial’ vanguard attempting to decipher the evolving digital zeitgeist through experimental film. 

+ Live DJ set and collage-making

Cinema Café, from 5pm to 6pm

Anhell69 (18)
Colombia/Germany 2022, dir Theo Montoya, 72min

Sat 27 Apr, 6.15pm
Cinema 3

Seamlessly blending fiction and reality, Theo Montoya’s intoxicating debut feature creates a ‘trans cinema’ that follows no rules.   

Set in the aftermath of the 2016 Colombian Peace Agreement, Anhell69 tells the story of a group of queer friends in Medellin as they navigate sex, drugs and a new nation still reeling from conflict. Based on a fictional film project of Montoya’s, Anhell69 explores what it means to tell stories about marginalised lives, culminating in a haunting meditation on friendship, death, and belonging.

Joyful Lands, Joyful Bodies (15*) + Q&A

Sun 28 Apr, 3:30pm
Cinema 2

A collection of shorts exploring transgressive acts of reclamation, from land to gazes.

Through lucid and experimental narratives, filmmakers capture life in motion as they navigate the complex reflections between echoes of history, narrative control, and the human capacity for joy. Discover the surreal within the intricate negotiation of autonomy and conformity, revealing the delicate balance of modern existence. 

Followed by a live Q&A session with a selection of the short film-makers.

A Boy, A Wall and A Donkey

Palestine 2008, dir Hany Abu-Assad, 5min

Three boys search for a camera to shoot their action movie. A seriocomic tale about the youthful impulse to create fiction while under surveillance.

If the Sun Drowned into an Ocean of Clouds 

France & Lebanon 2023, dir Wissam Charaf, 20min

Set in Beirut, this comedic tale portrays a security guard preventing pedestrians from entering the waterfront while it is being built, all for what reason? 

The Purpose was to Document the Other Side

Bangladesh & United Kingdom 2023, dir Laisul Hoque, 15min

A personal account of film as a means of mediating between generations through sharing memory and authorship.


UK 2022, dir Maz Murray, 16min

Camp, absurd, and melodramatic, Maz Murray presents a surreal soap opera set in Basildon that depicts the looming threat of urbanisation and malpractice in a local housing development in East London.

Sunflower Siege Engine

USA 2022, dir Sky Hopinka, 12min

Archival footage and dreamscapes are woven together to explore the reclamation of land, self and agency. Past histories of colonisation, abolition and repatriation are documented through personal narratives and reflections on the Indigenous Occupation of Alcatraz.

Nowhere (18) + Post Film Discussion
USA/France 1997, dir Gregg Araki, 82min

Sun 28 Apr, 6:00pm

Cinema 1

In the finale of Gregg Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse trilogy, Nowhere follows angsty Dark Smith as he attempts to find love and meaning in a generation that exalts the presentation of self over connection. Described by Araki as “Beverly Hills, 90210 on acid,” Nowhere invites you to experience a hyper-stylised LA where sexuality is unrestricted, drug use is routine and oblivion is incoming…

Following the screening will be a panel talk about music in film.