BFI launches Black Britain on Film collection

The British Film Institute (BFI) has launched Black Britain on Film, a new collection of over 150 film and TV titles that aims to uncover the heritahe of black Britain.

According to a press release “the collection includes lesser-known TV drama, contemporary features and films of iconic figures including Paul Robeson, Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King,” and “charts the changing attitudes and hidden histories spanning more than a century.”

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Highlights include some of the earliest images of black Britons on film, including the story of real-life black challenger to Britain’s heavyweight bare-knuckle boxing title in When Giants Fought (1926) and six-reel rushes from the unfinished documentary project A World is Turning (1948), which features members of the black and Asian communities.

Also in the collection, a number of films starring Britain’s first black star in the 30’s and 40’s, the American-born singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson, who starred in such films as Song of Freedom (1936) and The Proud Valley (1940).

Black Britain on Film is part of a five-year project to digitize and make available online 10,000 films from the BFI National Archive and the UK’s national and regional film archives by 2017. The collection complements BFI’s new blockbuster season “Black Star,” the UK’s biggest season of Film and TV dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors.

For more information, go to http://www.bfi.org.uk/

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