What we’re watching for Black History Month

14th October 2021

Here at Screen and Film School we’ve been asking our staff and students for their film and TV recommendations for this Black History Month and beyond.

October is in full swing, and so is Black History Month 2021- a time for celebrating Black history, culture, and achievements. This year we’ve enlisted the help of our staff and students to bring you a list of their favourite films & TV shows that you should watch, not just for this month, but all year round- you’re sure to find some new favourites!

Rocks (2019)

Rocks would be my number one recommendation. The film is not only beautifully directed by Sarah Gavron, but also incredibly acted which is testament to its young, energetic vibrant cast. What stands out most about Rocks is not only the breakout performance from Bukky Burkray which gained her a BAFTA last year, but also the chemistry between the ensemble cast which feels incredibly natural. The film is joyful bittersweet love letter to youth, an insight into struggle, adversity and independence gained.” – Anthony Vander – MA Mentor (Screen and Film School Brighton)

Mossane (1996)

“A hidden gem directed by Senegalese director Safi Faye.” – Akira-Kai 

Sitting In Limbo (2020)

Sitting in Limbo is an uncomfortable but important watch, following the shameful treatment Anthony Bryan received from the UK Home Office between 2016-2018 as he was wrongfully detained and threatened with deportation. Directed by Stella Corradi and written by Anthony’s brother, Stephen S Thompson, viewers are placed in Byran’s shoes and confronted with the overwhelming fear, confusion and injustice he experienced. I have chosen this film as it lays bare the amount of progress which needs to be made in tackling discrimination in the UK today.” – Niamh Jennings – Access, Participation and Outreach Coordinator (Screen and Film School Brighton)

Timbuktu (2014)

“Timbuktu is a 2014 Mauritanian film directed and co-written by Abderrahmane Sissako. The film centres on the brief occupation of Timbuktu, Mali and is partially influenced by the 2012 public stoning of an unmarried couple in Aguelhok. Shot in Mauritania, Timbuktu was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the François Chalais Prize. It was chosen as Mauritania’s submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and went on to be nominated for the prize at the 87th Academy Awards; it was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language at the 69th British Academy Film Awards.” – Max Conil – Lecturer (Screen and Film School Brighton)

Us (2019)

“Us because it raises topics (both subtly and blatantly) that are finally being fought over.” – Jack Cleveland 

Hidden Figures (2016)

“Hidden Figures is based on the true story of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan who all worked at NASA in 1961. I loved this film and everything is stood for. Not only is it a focus on black history but also female history. I loved how intelligent the characters were. The film was based on science and facts rather than a stereotypical love story. The story was eye opening to the struggles that these women faced in one of the world’s biggest, most celebrated companies. Not only was the film a great success it also changed current history –  Mary obtained her engineering degree and became NASA’s first female African-American engineer; Dorothy continued as NASA’s first African-American supervisor; and Katherine, went on to calculate the trajectories for the Apollo 11 and Space Shuttle missions. In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, NASA dedicated the Centre’s Katherine Johnson Computational Building in her honour.” – Jude Suckling – Head of Industry & Careers (Screen and Film School Manchester)

Moonlight (2016)

“I adore Barry Jenkins’ film Moonlight. We watched it as part of our Manchester film club and it’s such a brilliant, simple accessible film for anyone. One of the most difficult things in filmmaking is to portray the internal emotional journey of a character, and this film does it in spades, particularly with the way it combines sound and music. Some absolutely towering performances too. It’s such a sensitive and touching film that ends in a hug – and any film that ends in a hug, gets my vote!” – David Thompson, College Principal (Screen and Film School Manchester)

Atlanta (2016 -)

“Atlanta must be one of my favourite shows ever, it is brilliantly written as well as clever and hilarious. It stars the amazing Lakeith Stanfield in one of my favourite performances from him as well as Donald Glover, Zazie Beets and Brian Tyree Henry who all put in great and funny performances. I just really enjoy the way the show tackles and discusses issues and problems and shows the world through a surreal but strangely true to life lens. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Donald Glover’s other works and anyone who’s a fan of surreal comedies. Currently streaming on Disney Plus.” – Luke Perrett – Graduate (Screen and Film School Brighton)

Blacks Britannica (1978)

“Black History Month is a commemoration that is often highly Americanised and has historically dismissed the contribution of black Brits and members of the diaspora outside of the States. In the creative industry, focus is drawn upon dramatisations of slavery but the release of Blacks Britannica in 1978 posed a challenge to this. As a major contribution to the documentary canon, this film shifted the lens upon the lives of black people in Britain. Although the film was commissioned by an American company, it documented oral testimonies from black politic activists, teachers and youth. Legendary figures such as Grenadian publisher Jessica Huntley, Trinidadian communist Claudia Jones and Trinidadian sociologist Colin Prescod are featured throughout and grant us access to the truths of systemic racism in Britain. The intersection of race and class are placed under the microscope, and are carefully examined by focusing on themes of education, policing, employment and housing. Whilst this documentary was initially banned, it still remains as one of the most important films on British racism and the response of black communities across the country.” – Hannah Francis – Student Support Officer (Screen and Film School Brighton)

Tales From The Hood (1995)

Tales From The Hood – a fantastic film with three different stories, each exploring racial issues.” – Cameron Thompson

Summer of Soul (2021)

Summer of Soul– a celebration of black culture and it’s significance to music!” – Kai Veal 

You can also read our Student Review of the film here!


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