Curators' Picks: Black British Stories by Black UK directors

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19 Sep 2020
3 min read

In our latest Curators Picks, Kayza Rose shares some of her favourite Black British stories by Black UK directors. 

'These films are historic in many ways. Pressure is hailed as Britain’s first feature film directed by a Black person. Stud Life is directed and written by one of the UK’s very few trans filmmakers, my dear friend, Campbell X. It’s important to remember, especially during the times of the amplification of Black lives being violated, that Black people make art, films and create joy too. I’ve curated this small selection of films focusing on of black history in the UK, as told by five amazing Black British directors.'

Kayza Rose  

'Pressure' (1976) - Horace Ove

Where to watch: BFI Player

Horace Ove’s film is set in Ladbroke Grove. You know...the home of Notting Hill Carnival. The story reminds me of a lot of what my father spoke about when he first arrived in London from Jamaica. The challenges, new ways of living, the weather and, most of all, the pressure.

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'Burning an Illusion' (1981) - Menelik Shabazz

Where to watch: BFI Player

Burning an Illusion by Menelik Shabazz is about a Black British woman and her love for a Black man. The film is amazing in many ways; best of all is its unapologetic centring of Blackness. Although this film is hailed as the second feature film to be made by a Black British director, I doubt this is true. Although it’s the second one to be acknowledged by the mainstream, this does not mean others were not made before.

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'Young Soul Rebels' (1991) - Isaac Julien

Where to watch: BFI Player

Isaac Julien’s Young Soul Rebels is about tension amongst the youth of 1970s Britain. Tension between skinheads, punks and soul boys. I loved the way the film had black, gay men at the heart of the story, so rare for its time. The story doesn’t shy away from the harassment Black people faced by the police. We are still seeing protests about this in 2020.

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'Stud Life' (2012) - Campbell X

Where to watch: Peccadillo Player / BFI Player / Amazon

Stud Life, directed by Campbell X, spoke to the experience of being a masculine-presenting Black woman in London. This film stands out for many reasons, not least, for me, because it’s got a Black, butch lesbian as the lead. Often you see lesbians though the male gaze. Not this time, and it’s beautiful to see.

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'The Last Tree' (2019) - Shola Amo

Where to watch: BFI Player / Amazon

The Last Tree shows the importance of culture to any child being fostered or adopted by people not of the same culture. The young Black male lead was lost in terms of not having examples of what it is to be a Black man in London. The film takes us on his journey to find himself. Director Shola Amoo was himself fostered and lends his lived experience to the story.

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About Kayza Rose

Kayza Rose is a creative producer, artistic director, filmmaker, activist and Arts Council England - Change Maker. Kayza is COO at AZ Mag, creator of Allies Corner, QTIBPOC Family Dinner. In 2018 she produced VISIBLE (directed by Campbell X), a film about the erasure and sanitisation of QTIBPOC history and contributions. Kayza can often be found dreaming up ways to level the playing field in an unfair world. 

Follow @kayzarose on Twitter and Instagram.
 

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