London Locks documentary (2016)

London Locks is a short documentary by Aaron Christian that explores an exciting new subculture that is emerging from the creative cracks in London. A subculture that is being driven by some of the most stimulating and expressive thinkers in London’s youth community and it involves hair.

The film follows six individuals whom are pioneering a change in the way young black men and women feel about their hair and personal image. It explores each person’s reasoning behind why they decided to grow their dreadlocks, what it means to each of them individually and how they see the movement moving forward as a collective. They are Marc Hare: Fashion Designer, Kieran Pharaoh: DJ, Ayishat Akanbi: Fashion Stylist, Curtis Essel: Blogger, Skinny Macho: DJ, Jamel Williams: Film Maker.

By shining a light on their daily maintenance and grooming routines, myths are broken down about dreadlocks, in an inspiring and educational way.

Set in London, a city known for it’s diversity and innovation in the creative arts, the film showcases why the capital is at the forefront of this movement. Taking the viewer across the city from east to west through each individuals stories we glimpse how the frustrations of London’s past is fueling them to drive change and challenge how we see and interpret dreadlocks and natural hair.

A film which encapsulates both the good and bad of the city, but which ultimately highlights hope for a young generation eager to express themselves freely and honestly.

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Black British Life coming to the BBC

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Historian David Olusoga who will present the documentary “Black and British: A History Forgotten” on BBC TWO 9/11/2016.

Throughout the rest of this month, BBC channels BBC TWO and BBC FOUR will be at the forefront of illustrated black life and history, specific to Britain, according to the Voice newspaper.  The season of programming, which will feature radio shows, documentaries and films, is simply titled “Black and British”, exploring the history of black communities in Britain as well as following contemporary narratives too.

Writing for the Voice, Nadine White states:

“After approximately 18 months in the works, the BBC will unveil a season of programming celebrating the achievements of black people in the UK and exploring the rich culture and history of black Britain called ‘Black And British’. According to the BBC, Black and British season will feature bold, vibrant and provocative stories, overturning preconceptions and challenging widespread – albeit covert – stances on the matter. The season will also cast a fresh light on black history, examining the contribution and impact of black people in the UK, as well as interrogating just what it means to be black and British today.”

You can find out more about the programme scheduling and catch up on certain features (if in the UK) via iPlayer from this BBC website.

White King, Red Rubber, Black Death (2003)

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Today in Belgium, the country celebrates Belgian National Day day. The public holiday commemorates the moment Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg swore allegiance to the new Belgian constitution and become the country’s first monarch.

However, this day also obscures the dark and twisted history that Belgium shares with its colony in Africa – Congo. The memory and legacy of King Leopold’s successor – Leopold II – still looms as the region continues to be over-exploited for minerals and resources while its people are misplaced and abused by multi-national companies for profit.

The well-documented monstrous treatment of the Congolese at the hands of the Belgians between the 19th and early 20th centuries is captured powerfully and unforgettably in the film White King, Red Rubber, Black Death. It is a must see documentary on a day like today, where the so-called greatness of a nation is celebrated, while the source of the country’s wealth is conveniently misplaced within its mainstream and accepted memory.

To celebrate Belgian National Day day is to ignore the horrors of imperialism in Congo and beyond. It is to endorse European superiority at the expense of humanising and empowering indigenous people all over the world.

 

Being “Black in NL” new web series

On heels of Cecile Emeke’s pioneering Strolling series, which explores “Afropean” narratives in the UK, Sweden, France and the Netherlands, Dutch filmmaker Bibi Fadlalla has launched a new project named Black in NL. Through interviews, the series gives a voice to the Dutch black community, shedding light on subjects such as belonging and identity within a society that still considers itself and its culture inherently white.

So far, two episodes have been posted via Youtube (see episode 1 below), but you can continue to follow the series by subscribing here.

TedX Talk on literature and imagery for kids

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Kahya Engler speaking at the Returning the Gaze: Blackface in Europe conference, in 2014.

Check out this mini crash course in media literacy from friend of ERIF, Kahya Engler. As part of the TedX talks series, Kahya discusses her crusade to find diverse imagery and literature for her son as well as campaigning against racist portrayals of people of colour in children’s media. Core to her message is ultimate the importance for all children to be able to see and read positive, honest representations of themselves.

You can see her full talk below:

Kaffir Culture (2010)

From the film

From the film Kaffir Culture

Filmmaker Kannan Arunasalam explores the culture of the African descended, self-defined “Kaffirs” of Sri Lanka in this short documentary. The group – who say their community is shrinking – reclaimed the term Kaffir for themselves, although it is historically a racial slur among whites for black people in Southern Africa, as well as in Europe.  Arriving in Sri Lanka some 500 years ago with the Portuguese from East Africa, this minority group’s traditional way of life is said to be endangered in part due to pressure to assimilate, but also due to the commodification of certain aspects of their culture (especially the music) which have become “chic”.

Check out Arunasalam’s short film below:

The Dark Side of Chocolate (2010)

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Just in time for Easter, check out this 2010 documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate, directed by Danish journalist Miki Mistrati. Following an international pledge to end the child trafficking and exploitation integral to the cocoa industry in the Ivory Coast, Mistrati investigates the situation 10 years after the initial pledge was made. Speaking to local activists, farmers, social workers, chocolate industry leaders as well as some of the children themselves, the documentary sheds even more light on contemporary Western abuses of African resources and labour, as well as the importance of consumers truly understanding where their luxury items have come from. Watch the full documentary below before you crack open that Easter egg this year.

Too black to be French? (2015)

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Trop noir pour être Français? (Too black to be French?) is the 2015 documentary from French-Ivorian screen-writer and film director Isabelle Boni-Claverie.

Motivated following racist remarks made by Jean-Paul Guerlain in 2010, Boni-Claverie collected statements made by black French citizens in response to the statement “You know you’re black when…”  to form part of the project. The documentary addresses Boni-Claverie’s own family history as well as issues around race, identity and belonging in 21st century France. Furthermore, the film explores the ugly history of the European exploration, colonialism and racism and how this has fed into present-day notions of nationalism and racial categorisations, through interviews with scholars such as Éric Fassin*.

Watch a clip from the documentary below and see purchasing options for the full film here.

*More info on the background and commentary of the project here.

Kickin’ it with the Kinks Documentary (2011)

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The discussion on black women’s hair never appears to grow old. Natural hair or relaxers? Braids or weaves? Can white people touch black women’s hair? Or appropriate their hairstyles for themselves? Another matter that always seems to open a massive can of worms is how black women actually feel about their hair and also, what their choices apparently say about how they see themselves. The black hair care industry is myriad of complex and contradictory messages and ideas regarding identity, race, beauty, health and capitalism. These themes were explored in the much-discussed 2009 documentary Good Hair by US actor and comedian Chris Rock.

Two years later, student filmmaker Cynthia Butare teamed up with blogger Mundia Situmbeko to film and produce Kickin’ it with the Kinks (KIWTK). The film received wide praise and toured across Europe, offering a perspective that does include US viewpoints, but not at the expense of Afropean experiences and journeys. The advantage of Butare’s effort is also that – on a topic almost universally associated with women – the narrative is centered much more from a woman’s perspective, as the documentary follows Situmbeko’s “transition” back to natural hair.

Traversing and somewhat anticipating the natural hair revolution of the past 5 years, KIWTK shares the stories of women of colour choosing straight over relaxed hair, neighbourhood hair stylists, the natural hair start up community,  as well as natural hair gurus. If you haven’t caught on to this ever evolving strand of the Afro hair discussion, you should do so now! Watch and share the video below and become a part of the ongoing conversation.

Happy Australia Day? Three films to help you decide.

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Today – 26th January – is Australia Day. Dating back to 1788, the day marks the arrival of the British in New South Wales and in present times is widely viewed as a celebration of Australia’s diversity rather than colonialism.

Having said this, even if the day doesn’t actively celebrate colonialism, hiding from the true nature of Australia’s racist and imperialist history is hardly much better, since this nation-wide event does little to shed light on how the British came to conquer the land from its native peoples. Furthermore, it is arguable that commemorating the arrival of the British at all, white-washes the ugly truth.

Indigenous groups for example, have subsequently criticised the day, referring to it as “Invasion Day” as well as commenting that if Australia Day is truly meant for all Australians (including the indigenous population) then the date should be changed.

Protests such as these are often dismissed by white institutions, who tend to claim that anti-racist and/or de-colonial campaigners need to move on from history and make peace with the past. However, the actions that immediately followed the British landing on Australia in 1788 did not end in the 18th century. Australia’s deliberate and brutal policies against its non-white population framed its 20th century domestic policies and it goes without saying that the treatment of the Aboriginal community has been atrocious.

As recently as May 2015, protests broke out in Melbourne against the forced closure of ancestral Aboriginal communities in rural Western Australia. The closures have been compared to an act of genocide by the government.

The following recommended films address the racist, imperialist and xenophobic policies that continue to plague indigenous and non-white Australian communities, even as Australia’s diversity is being celebrated today. They are moving and enraging and if you were not previously skeptical of the happy, laid-back image of Australia before, you will be after watching.

First up we have Our Generation (2010) a documentary film about Aboriginal communities living in the northern territories and fighting against assimilation policies in order to maintain their ancestral way of life:

The next film is the second part of a three part BBC series called Racism: a History (2007). We have posted this series before, however we want to point out specifically the segment in the second part of the series that deals with the ethnic cleansing of Aboriginal communities from Tasmania.

The third film we’re sharing is the first part of the Australian documentary series Immigration Nation (2011), which actually begins at the very start of the 20th century, detailing Australia’s long battle to try and become a more multi-cultural society. Find part one below and go to the SBS website for more information about the series.