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Launch of Black World

Black World was an initiative by the British Film Institute supported by the Arts Council, to celebrate black British film culture.

Over a five month period more than forty national projects and events took place which explored the heritage and current innovations in black filmmaking. This included seasons of film screenings and seminars at the National Film Theatre and venues nationwide, and the release of new film prints and DVDs of films such as Pressure (1971), Horace Ove's seminal picture of black experience in 1970s London.

The Black World project launched simultaneously at venues in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, London and Cardiff on 2nd June with a screening of Mario Van Peebles new film Baadasssss! . This was followed by an array of events which not only examined the distinguished history of black filmmaking across continents but also engaged at a local level by offering screenings in regional cinemas with introductions and talks by the filmmakers involved, and a series of workshops and mentoring schemes for young black filmmakers wishing to break into the industry. Thus the diversity of events ranged from a retrospective of the eminent African filmmaker Ousmene Sembene, including an interview with the director himself, and a retrospective at the Barbican of Horace Ove to a well received season of black music on television, which explored a wide variety of forms; from Caribbean to hip hop. The musical theme was also picked up in the Blacktronica music sessions in the NFT Film Café Bar, which have proved so popular that they continue as a monthly feature.

Furthermore, the diverse array of advocates and collaborators for Black World, from individuals such as the eminent Black writer Kwame Kwei-Armah and the well known television presenter June Sarpong, to organisations such as Black History Month, Africa Film Tours and Africa at the Pictures, attests to the vibrancy of black film culture at the start of a new century; one which explores and celebrates its histories and roots yet looks ahead to the promise of new generations of black filmmakers within a culture of encouragement and possibility.

Lucy Reynolds

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Ousmene Sembene attends the retrospective of his films at the NFT.

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