Black History Month: 4 great films to enjoy

6 Oct 2020

At Gulbenkian we are committed to championing diversity across our cinema and live event programme all year round. This means that we look to work with brilliant artists with different ethnicities, disabilities and backgrounds to reflect our world and represent stories and voices from a diversity of perspectives.

In our cinema we showcase films from across the world, presenting work by International directors, in different languages, and promoting work by (amongst others) black and female actors and directors, who have traditionally been under-represented in cinema.

Within that year round offer, Black History Month presents a great opportunity to flag work by black artists and film makers and we have 4 fantastic films (below) for you to enjoy this October.

For the descriptions below we have to thank Becky Lamyman (Student Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Officer for Student Services at University of Kent).

Les Misérables – With Panel Discussion

Sat 10 – Thu 15 Oct (Panel discussion Thu 15 Oct)

2019 French drama film directed by Ladi Ly.  The film, set in the commune of Montfermeil in the aftermath of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is based on a real-life occurrence of police violence which took place in the city on 14 October 2008.  The film examines the challenge of judging people by their actions and behaviours rather than thinking about what made them that way whilst exploring issues of class, race, poverty, social conflict, social crisis and police corruption and brutality in a microcosm of French society. Ly was the first Black film Director to win a César (Best Film 2020) for Les Misérables.

Read more about Les Miserables here

Black Panther – With Panel Discussion

Tue 20 Oct, 7pm

Black Panther is a 2018 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character. It’s a movie about what it means to be black in both America and Africa—and, more broadly, in the world. Rather than dodge complicated themes about race and identity, the film grapples head-on with the issues affecting modern-day black life. It has been lauded as the first mega-budget movie to have a Black director and predominantly Black cast. Its themes challenge institutional bias, its characters take unsubtle digs at oppressors, and its narrative includes prismatic perspectives on black life and tradition.

Read more about Black Panther here

Rocks – Includes recorded Q&A with Director, Sarah Gavron

Thu 22 Oct, 7pm

Described as an authentic window into the modern lives of teenage girls, Rocks is a British coming-of-age drama film, directed by Sarah Gavron and released in 2019.The film stars Bukky Bakray as Olushola, nicknamed “Rocks”, a  Black British teenage girl in London whose single mother abandons her and her younger brother Emmanuel (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu), forcing Rocks to take on the role of carer to her younger brother whilst avoiding the attention of the authorities with the help of her loyal friend Sumaya (Kosar Ali) and her all-female crew of school friends. The film was made by a mostly female crew and cast.

Read more about Rocks here

Miss Juneteenth – With panel discussion

Thu 29 Oct, 7pm

Miss Juneteenth is a 2020 American drama film written and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples/ The plot follows a single mom and former teen beauty queen (Turquoise) who enters her daughter (Kai) into the local Miss Juneteenth pageant in the hope that Kai winning will mean a scholarship to the Black college of her choice. While other former Miss Juneteenth winners have gone on to have successful careers Turquoise’s education was derailed by the birth of Kai, which forced her to drop out of college and for a time work as a stripper. To make ends meet she currently works at a bar and part time as a beautician at a mortuary.  Described as ‘steeped in pride for Black Texan culture’: the BBQ, the beauty pageants, historic black colleges, and Juneteenth itself, the film explores the mother-daughter relationship and the culture of American beauty pageant from the perspective of a Black woman. The film is named for the annual 19th June Holiday commemorating the day in 1865, when enslaved black people in Texas were liberated, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had outlawed slavery.

Read about Miss Juneteenth here