BFI AFRICAN ODYSSEYS will mark one year since the passing of the much-loved filmmaker Menelik Shabazz with a series of special events and screenings at BFI Southbank in June. MENELIK SHABAZZ: FOR THE PEOPLE will include a commemorative day of illustrated talks and film screenings with Shabazz’s family, friends and collaborators on 25 June, as well as screenings of key films, including a new restoration of BURNING AN ILLUSION (1981), introduced by actor Cassie McFarlane.
‘[Shabazz was] a powerful and faithful servant of our struggles who has more than earned his place in the realm of Ancestors’
– Actor-writer Cassie McFarlane
Join Shabazz’s family, friends and collaborators for a commemorative day of illustrated talks and film screenings. During the day we’ll present some of his lesser-known work, and finish with a rare screening of Time and Judgement.
Step Forward Youth
- UK 1977. 29min
A Kuumba collective film presenting the views of teenagers and their experience of racism in 70s London.
Catch a Fire
- BBC 1996. 30min
This film incorporates archive, re-enactment, vox pops and expert voices tell the story of Paul Bogle and the 1865 Morant Bay massacre.
The Hand of Ken
- UK 2020. 29min
Shabazz’s portrait of artist Ken McKalla who worked on Time and Judgement.
Time and Judgement – A Diary of a 400 Year Exile
- With Victor Romero-Evans, Benjamin Zephaniah, Angela Wynter, Janet Kay. 85min. Digital
- UK 1988. 85min
This extraordinary treatment of the international tribulations and triumphs of the people of the African diaspora fuses poetry, art, archive and drama. Shabazz creates a unique visionary experience, featuring music from Bob Marley, Steel Pulse and Aswad.
When BFI programming strand African Odysseys began 15 years ago, a key inspiration was Barbados-born filmmaker and cultural activist Menelik Shabazz, who moved to the UK aged five, started making films in his teens and went on to empower countless filmmakers and creators throughout his career. African Odysseys featured premieres of The Story of Lovers Rock and Looking for Love and commemorated, in 2011 and 2021, the remarkable achievement of Shabazz’s drama debut Burning an Illusion – no less relevant today and restored to its original glory. This season celebrates the warmth and dedication of Menelik Shabazz with a selection of his most popular titles but also less well-known films, covering hidden histories and the experience of prejudice, injustice and resistance by the African diaspora community. David Somerset