This seminal documentary explores the civil disturbances in the district of Handsworth in Birmingham and in London in 1985. Running throughout the film is the idea that the riots were the outcome of a protracted suppression by British society of black presence. On its release in 1986, Handsworth Songs not only stoked controversy, it also heralded, in John Akomfrah, the arrival of a brilliant and provocative new voice in British filmmaking.


(61mins) | United Kingdom





John Akomfrah Photograph of John Akomfrah Born in Ghana and raised in the United Kingdom, John Akomfrah made his directorial debut with the acclaimed documentary Handsworth Songs in 1986. He has made over 30 films since, many examining issues of black British identity, including The Nine Muses (ttff/11). He is one of the founders of the seminal (and now-defunct) Black Audio Film Collective, and is a governor of the British Film Institute.