Black Star – BFI blockbuster season 2016/17

While the season has now ended, you can still find programming inspiration via the BFI Black Star webpage.

In 2016, we were delighted to be a part of BLACK STAR, the UK’s biggest ever season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors. BLACK STAR explores the relationship between stars and the audiences who love them, spotlighting great performances by black actors on screen.

BLACK STAR focused on the work of contemporary actors including Samuel L. Jackson, David Oyelowo, Denzel Washington, Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sophie Okonedo alongside cinema’s first black stars, such as Josephine Baker, Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, and enduring icons like Sidney Poitier, Whoopi Goldberg, Paul Robeson and Angela Bassett. The season took place October – December 2016 at cinemas nationwide, on BFI Player, on DVD and at BFI Southbank.

Highlights of the season included:

  • Boyz in the Hood, In the Heat of the Night – back on big screens across the UK
  • On-stage reunion event with Demond’s Carmen Monroe, Robbie Gee and creator Trix Worrell at BFI Southbank
  • Norman Jay MBE introduces screenings and events in Bristol, Exeter, Leeds, London and Manchester
  • BFI London Film Festival to include global symposium event examining on-screen representation
  • Events at over 90 UK locations; over 50 films on BFI Player; The Crying Game and Carmen Jones on blu-ray for the first time

As part of BLACK STAR, Film Hub Wales, together with venues across Welsh communities, hosted an immersive tour of remastered 1940s classic, The Proud Valley.

The tour celebrated American actor, bass singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson and the film, The Proud Valley, which was filmed on location in the Rhondda Valley coalfields.

The screenings launched with newly remastered material at Chapter Cardiff, on Sunday 13th November and was accompanied by a performance from Treorchy Male Choir. The screening was followed by a panel discussion, exploring Robeson’s impact on Welsh life, politics and BAME communities.

The tour was featured extensively in national press, including The Daily Mirror, BBC 1 Breakfast, The Hollywood Reporter and BBC R4’s The Film Programme.

Full listings:

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

Ton Pentre started life as the Ocean Collieries, Maindy & Eastern Workman’s library and Institute in 1895 before the Workman’s Hall was attached in 1904. Due to the local mine closures the hall fell into decline in the 1940s and although films were shown until 1971, it was only in 2012 that the cinema was renovated with a digital projector. The team relaunched their cinema programme with a perfectly themed screening of The Proud Valley on Monday 5 December, joined by the Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Ynyswen Choir. There are plans for a string of Welsh films to follow.

A special The Proud Valley event screened for 2nd December at Pontio in Bangor. The evening was hosted by Dafydd Iwan (in Welsh with simultaneous translation), Welsh folk singer and former president of Plaid Cymru. The screening was part of Pontio’s first anniversary celebrations.

Once known as Celynen Collieries Institute & Memorial, the Institute building which opened in 1908 is a lasting monument to the miners who worked so hard to build it and the Memorial Hall built in 1924 serves as a memorial to the local servicemen who lost their lives during World War One. Recently refurbished the Art Deco auditorium reopened its doors in November 2014, filling the space with music and theatre once again. The Proud Valley screened on Sunday 11th December.
There was also a screening at The Welfare on the 30th November, a community venue serving the former mining community of Ystradgynlais with performance from Côr Dathlu Cwmtawe and exhibition supplied by the South Wales Miners Library and the Paul Robeson Foundation. This film showed as part of a month of classic and heritage films, along with second BFI Black Star title, Carmen Jones on the 20th November.
Further screenings of The Proud Valley took place at The Gwyn Hall, Neath on Saturday 26th November, home to one of the major coal port and commercial centres of the 19th century. They hosted a special mining exhibition from the local history society and Cefn Coed Colliery museum, containing photos of the mine and artefacts from the museum.
Further reading:

  • July 2016: BFI Black Star season announcement… read more
  • October 2016: BFI Black Star season launch… read more
  • October 2016: Robeson in Song! The Proud… read more