Black Audio Film Collective
1993, UK, 52 min
The Collective’s seventh film envisioned the death and life of the African American revolutionary as a seven part study in iconography as narrated by novelist Toni Cade Bambara and actor Giancarlo Espesito. The film collects testimonies, eyewitness accounts and dramatic reenactments to tell the life, legacy, loves, and losses of Malcolm X, featuring interviews with his widow Betty Shabazz , Spike Lee and many others. The stylized tableaux vivants that memorialise Malcolm’s life referenced the early 20th century funeral photography of James Van der Zee’s The Harlem Book of the Dead and the elemental static cinematography of Sergei Paradjanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates.
Inaugurated in 1982 and dissolved in 1998, the seven-person Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC) is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential artist groups to emerge from Britain in recent years. John Akomfrah, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Reece Auguiste, Trevor Mathison, David Lawson and Edward George produced award winning film, photography, slide tape, video, installation, posters and interventions, much of which has never been exhibited in Britain.
Their first film Handsworth Songs won seven international awards in 1987; their second film Testament premiered at the Semaine de la Critique at Cannes International Film Festival in 1988; these and subsequent works such as Twilight City (1989) and The Last Angel of History (1995) staked a claim for a new kind of moving image work that was resolutely experimental and confidently internationalist.
This February, the Dave Barber Cinematheque presents five essential and radical works by the Black Audio Film Collective that encapsulate community, politics and protest, including Handsworth Songs (1986), Twilight City (1989), Who Needs a Heart (1991), Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993) and Three Songs on Pain, Time and Light (1995).
Generously sponsored by IATSE 856 Manitoba.