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African Odysseys has been running for seven years and shows monthly film events by and about the people of Africa and its world Diasporas. It is generated by a steering group of programmers and promoters, including David Somerset of BFI Education who initiated this unique strand of monthly contextualised events.

UK Premiere: I Am The Gorgon: Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae | UK 2013 | Dir Diggory Kenrick | 86min | Digital

BFI Southbank recently announced its African Odysseys programme with screenings of inspirational films by and about the people of Africa including the UK Premiere of I Am The Gorgon: Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae (2013). Screening is followed by Q&A with the film’s director Diggory Kenrick. A must-see for music fans, I Am The Gorgon documents the life of legendary producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee, telling the story of Jamaican music through the life of this extraordinary man; from Ska to Rocksteady; Dub to Dancehall; from the backstreets of Kingston to the concert halls of the world. Director Diggory Kenrick and the film’s narrator, musician Dennis Alcapone, will take to the stage for a discussion following the screening.

Lee worked with early pioneers such as Duke Reid and innovators such as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Sly & Robbie. His association with King Tubby in the ‘70s gave rise to the genre known as Dub. Lee’s story involves politics, arguments and gangs as Jamaican music spread from the ghettos of Kingston to the furthest reaches of the globe. BFI welcomes director Diggory Kenrick and the film’s narrator, musician Dennis Alcapone as well as assorted figures from the Jamaican music scene, for a discussion around what will be a unique and musical event.


UK 1981 | Dir Molly Dineen | 43min

The late, great Mikey Dread narrates this original footage of the mighty Coxsone Sound System in the early 1980s. Director Molly Dineen introduces the screening.



The BFI is the lead organisation for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:

*        Connecting audiences to the widest choice of British and World cinema

*        Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations

*        Championing emerging and world class film makers in the UK investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work

*        Promoting British film and talent to the world

*        Growing the next generation of film makers and audiences



A Film By Biyi Bandele : Based On The Bestselling Novel By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie : Starring Thandie Newton | Chiwetel Ejiofor Anika Noni Rose | Joseph Mawle | John Boyega Genevieve Nnaji | Onyeka Onwenu

An epic love-story weaving together the lives of four people swept up in the turbulence of war... Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the ‘revolutionary professor’ Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his devoted houseboy Ugwu (John Boyega) in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests and surprises herself when she falls in love with Richard (Joseph Mawle), an English writer. Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements and a betrayal between the sisters; the events of their life loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra as an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire country and the world.

A sweeping romantic drama, Half Of A Yellow Sun takes the sisters and their lovers on a journey through the war which is powerful, intensely emotional and, as the response of readers around the world has shown, it is a story which can touch everyone’s heart. “It’s essentially a love story”, Biyi Bandele introduces his feature film debut, an adaptation of the internationally best-selling Orange Prize-winning novel of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. He elaborates, “it’s about people falling in love and the sacrifices you have to make sometimes when you are in a relationship”. More specifically, he explains, “it is about a generation of Nigerians who grew up in the 1960s which is when Nigeria along with most African countries gained independence. And this was a generation of Africans, of Nigerians who, were so imbued with confidence, with enthusiasm, with optimism about the future of the country and of Africa. Before the end of that decade things begin to unravel before them, around them, and the dream they had for that country becomes very, very complicated”. 

For the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the story was an intensely personal one. She explains: “much of the story of Odenigbo in the novel is based on my father’s own experiences. My father had just returned from the US with his new PHD in Mathematics, was eager, like most of the other educated Nigerians of his generation, to join in the task of nation building after independence, and then things fell apart: the coup, the massacres, the war. My father and his friends lost their innocence in that war”. The scars of the conflict are still present in families across modern-day Nigeria, none more so than Adichie’s. “In my family, nobody really spoke about what they had experienced until I began to ask questions while researching the novel. Almost everything that happens in the novel is based on something that happened to someone real, a family member, a family friend, although I changed some details”. 


Award-Winning Jamaican Feature Film
Although ‘Rise Up’ is essentially a Jamaican documentary film that spotlights Reggae, it transcends genre and niche seamlessly weaving three distinct stories into one inspiring film that is both dramatic and vibrantly explosive. Some are saying that ‘Rise Up’ is like a Jamaican ‘Hoop Dreams’ and the best movie to come out of the Caribbean in years - a potential Best Documentary nominee for the 2011 Academy Awards. The film features appearances and performances by both arising and legendary artists including Burning Spear, Sly & Robbie, Turbulance & Judah Tribe.
Rise UpDirected by Luciano Blotta (a native of Argentina) and produced by Darrin Holender (‘Sorority Row’), the film is the winner of the 2009 AFI/Discovery Silverdocs Best Music Documentary Award and was an audience favourite as an officially selected film at fifteen international film festivals including IDFA Amsterdam and the Bahamas International Film Festival. Recently, ‘Rise Up’ was chosen by the Lincoln Centre’s Film Society to celebrate Black History Month on its way to a theatrical release in Jamaica and the USA in October. A one-hour version of the film will be broadcasted by the UK’s BBC Storyville and many other television networks worldwide have ordered the film for their upcoming programming schedules including the PBS series AfroPop.
Not since the ‘Harder They Come’ and ‘Rockers’ has a Reggae film been able to reach worldwide audiences like ‘Rise Up’. In a recent interview with the Australian press, Blotta stated, “I saw how much talent there was [in Jamaica], how flamboyant, different and creative all these people were and it really inspired me”. He is excited to finally share his six-year project with audiences worldwide that can, in his words, ‘appreciate this priceless portrayal of a uniquely proud country’.
Having screened to full houses in nine countries since November 2008, ‘Rise Up’ has indeed connected to men and women, young and old from all backgrounds. Audiences have been dancing, laughing and crying in their seats. Core Reggae audiences and music doc fans have lauded the film for its authenticity and entertainment value whilst general audiences have praised the film for its original storytelling, inspirational tone, beautiful images and sounds. Entertainment industry veterans who have viewed the film have commended Blotta’s efforts as an invaluable contribution to both the Jamaican culture as well as the medium of documentary cinema.



The only UK’s Film Festival entirely dedicated to celebrate the contribution of African Descent Women in Cinema  -  Tricycle Cinema - London

Queen LatifahA three-day programme showcasing some of the best and outstanding films by Black women filmmakers offering strong and diverse interpretations of African Descent women. Events include performances by UK female lyricists, Q&A with Filmmakers, great debates, Award ceremony and festival party. A fun experience of the Festival and its unique screenings

- UK premiere of the most outstanding film featuring international female Hip-hop and R&B artists such as MC Lyte, Monie Love, Erykah Badu, Estelle and Queen Latifah

- UK premiere of the film and the women filmmakers at the centre of the lawsuit against actor Christ Rock for his latest film on Black hair

- The Bahamian first film feature to receive international acclaim, a beautiful and poetic film with stunning cinematography, introduced by the Bahamians High Commissioner in London

- Africa’s own ‘Slumdog Millionnaire’ about children from the townships of South Africa with stunning performance from main female character, 10-year-old Tambi, picked from 3,000 children to play the role. An ideal film for a family outing

 IBW Emerging Filmmakers’ Forum:
* IBW Short Film competition showcasing two best finalists
* Screening of two influential women’s portraits: Claudia Jones & Amy Ashwood Garvey
* Screening of Best Short Narrative by women that use innovative cinematography and editing to tell a story of love and deceit


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