Second Sight: Archive Films
Our upcoming 2020 touring programme, Second Sight: Films from the UK Black Film Workshops celebrates critical British cinema produced within the Black film workshops movement of the 1980s; a pivotal decade for UK culture and society.
Against a backdrop of divisive national politics and civil unrest, these films explored the Black community’s relationships with Britain’s colonial past, as well as to history; whilst also looking to the Civil Rights movement in America, Black feminism, Pan-Africanism, the struggle over apartheid, and the emergent fields of postcolonial and cultural studies.
We are delighted to be screening two archival films from this tour – Martina Attille’s Dreaming Rivers (1988) and Milton Bryan’s The People’s Account (1985) – at Archive Screening Day.
Dir. Martina Attille | UK | 1988 | 30 mins
Sankofa Film and Video was set up in 1983 by Martina Attille, Maureen Blackwood, Robert Crusz, Isaac Julien and Nadine Marsh-Edwards; supported by the then-new Channel 4, the Association of Cinematograph, Television & Allied Technicians (ACTT) and the Greater London Council (GLC). Their work foregrounds their interest in politics, gender, sexuality and Black British history.
Dreaming Rivers illustrates the spirit of modern families touched by the experience of migration. Awarded a prestigious Filmdukaten at the XXXVII Internationale Filmwoche Mannheim in 1988, the film evocatively weaves together the ambition-fuelled dreams and memories of Caribbean-born Miss T and her family.
The People’s Account
Dir. Milton Bryan | Prod. Menelik Shabazz | UK | 1985 | 50 mins
Ceddo Film and Video Workshop was also set up in the 1980s, with similar support from Channel 4, ACTT and the GLC. Original members included Menelik Shabazz, Milton Bryan, Imruh Bakari Caesar, Glenn Ujebe Masokoane and Roy Cornwall with Elmina D. Davis and Valerie Thomas joining the collective later on. Their work was characterised by a radical left-wing critique of British society’s treatment of Black British people, and by an interest in African and Caribbean politics and history.
The collective ran into trouble immediately with this, its first film for Channel 4, The People’s Account, a documentary about the Broadwater Farm riot in Tottenham. The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) objected to the description of the police as racist, lawless terrorists, and to the description of the riot as a legitimate act of self-defence. They demanded editorial changes and, when the filmmakers refused, the programme was pulled from the schedules, intended never to be shown on British television.