Sankofa Films & Isaac Julien

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 – 8:30 pm
Cinéma Le Méliès

Screening in the presence of Elsa Dorlin
(philosopher and editor of Black feminism)

Founded in 1983 by Isaac Julien, Martina Attille, Maureen Blackwood, Nadine Marsh-Edwards and Robert Crusz, “Sankofa Film and Video” is a pioneering collective of young black British filmmakers whose work examines the construction of the perception of black identity, with the aim of reappropriating the narratives of their histories.
In the 80s, Sankofa Film and Video was part of the wave of independent black cinema in the UK, which included many other collectives (Black Audio Film Collective, Retake Video) and which, thanks to the support of public institutions, enabled them to work with great formal freedom, constituting an unprecedented experiment in the history of black cinema.
Isaac Julien, a filmmaker and theorist born in London in 1960, became one of the representatives, along with the other members of Sankofa, of the new black queer cinema, which emerged in these years and was more particularly the expression of black gay and feminist artists. In his films and videos, with their sensual, dreamlike aesthetics and informed by postcolonial theories, Isaac Julien blends documentary and fiction, exploring shifting cultural territories and hybrid identities that escape national and essentialist frameworks. He now works in photography, installation and contemporary art.
Nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001 for his installations Long Road to Mazatlàn (1999) and Vagabondia (2000), Isaac Julien also won the 1991 Critics’ Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Young Soul Rebels.
Maureen Blackwood, Jamaican-born writer, co-founder of Sankofa and co-director of The Passion of remembrance with Isaac Julien, is the author of several films addressing the themes of uprootedness and the identity of women of color.


by Isaac Julien
(1984,  25′)
“We struggle to begin a history, a history of the specific cultural forms of black people.”
Territories, part documentary, part artist’s video, created around the Nothing Hill Carnival, a carnival for the black and Caribbean community, sound systems and reggae culture, and a site of conflict between black youth and the police, is a poetic meditation on the city, the territory, neglected neighborhoods, and a critical reflection on the image of black people transmitted by the media and the fate of migrants from the black diaspora within British society.


The Passion of remembrance
by Maureen Blackwood and Isaac Julien
(1986, 80 min)

A film-essay, experimental documentary and lyrical fiction, The Passion of Remembrance is the first feature film produced by Sankofa Film and Audio. It is an uncompromising portrait of the Thatcher government’s attitude to minorities, and simultaneously explores the difficulty of reconstructing a black political history from unquestioned identities. In so doing, it attempts to interconnect questions of sexuality and gender with issues of class and ethnicity. Combining documentary sequences and allegorical monologues, the narrative follows the trajectory of a young black woman, while at the same time restoring a mosaic of the different dimensions of the black experience lived and imagined by a generation of filmmakers in the UK.



Texts & curating : Kantuta Quiros & Aliocha Imhoff