Recently at a special event held at BFI Southbank in London with comedian Gina Yashere and DJ Norman Jay MBE, the BFI unveiled BLACK STAR. Aiming to be the UK’s biggest ever season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors. BLACK STAR was conceived to celebrate the relationship between stars and the audiences who love them, focusing on great performances by black actors on screen throughout the ages.
Heather Stewart, Creative Director of the BFI said: “Imagine cinema history without Paul Robeson, Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Pam Grier, and Samuel L Jackson – some of the greatest actors to light up our screens with their charisma and talent. Now imagine how much richer our shared memory would be, had the opportunities available to black actors matched their abilities. With BLACK STAR we are celebrating great performances and bringing them back to the big screen for everyone to enjoy. And we are also asking searching questions, of our industry and of ourselves, driven by a passion to meet the expectations of audiences who rightly expect to see their stories and aspirations reflected on screen.”
Part of the programme will touch on educating young film makers, this comes in the guise of BFI Future Film Raw Shorts event in November, offering industry insights, networking, practical masterclasses, and professional advice for young emerging filmmakers. Also in November, Future Film Recommended screenings (films chosen by a steering group of young programmers aged 16-25 for other young people) will be from the BLACK STAR programme.
The list of films and actors is vast with everyone from Dorothy Dandridge to Halle Berry and Poitier to Washington being given their dues. One of the highlights for me will be Desmond’s Actress Carmen Monroe doing a Q and A session with Desmond’s writer Trix Worrell and fellow co-star Robbie Gee after a screening of the first episodes. Elsewhere things like Black Dynamite, Hollywood Shuffle, Bamboozled to name but a few will all be on my list of films to watch.
The Season will run through out London film festival until the end of the year and will be nationwide with the aim being to bring all these great performances to as many people as possible.
Black Star will be available to audiences everywhere in the UK; in cinemas including BFI Southbank, on BBC Television, on DVD/Blu-ray and online via BFI Player from 17 October – 31 December, with further projects planned to celebrate the contribution of black practitioners working across film and TV in the coming years.