Who We Are
This month We Are Parable’s co-founders Anthony and Teanne Andrews took over the British Film Institute’s (BFI) online channels to explore the past, present and future of black British film. Easily one of the most exciting and innovative companies working in the UK film industry at the moment, the London based We Are Parable focus on producing immersive film screenings and live experiences for Black audiences. Their events to date have involved everything from street parties, barbershops, poetry and musical performances to fashion shows.
For their special event for the release of Black Panther in 2018 they turned the foyer of the BFI Southbank into an Afro-futuristic “kingdom” complete with cosplayers and African arts and craft makers. Probably their highest profile event to date though was their collaboration with Spike Lee in 2017, which brought the celebrated director to central London for a one-off talk and a meet and greet with hundreds of fans following a nine-month retrospective of his work in London and Manchester.
The BFI’s YouTube channels saw lots of interesting events happening as part of the Who We Are takeover; from an audio-visual mixtape journey through the history of black British film from the London based music collective Jazz Re:Freshed, to panel discussions and conversations with both established and emerging black British filmmakers. For us though, the most exciting element of their takeover has been their curation of a special collection of films on the BFI Player. Available to watch until the end of July, there's a subscription collection that's available for free to subscribers (including Showroom Members - see below for more info), a collection of films available to rent, and a selection of freely available shorts.
We Are Parable, in their introduction to the collection, say that the selection of films speak about “the varied nature and uniqueness of black British experience” and offer audiences “an opportunity to (re)visit, (re)evaluate and (re)discover stories that have shaped us over the last five decades.”
Our highlight has been the chance to see Horace Ové’s Pressure, a truly ground-breaking film from 1975 that’s considered Britain’s first Black feature film. Pressure tells the story of Tony, a smart young recent school graduate struggling to find a job in West London. Born in England to Caribbean immigrant parents, and with an older brother committed to the Black Power movement, Tony finds himself torn between several different worlds. Watching today, Pressure feels every bit aspowerful, radical and relevant as it must have been in 1975. You’ll also find other incredible and pathbreaking gems in the collection, like Ngozi Onwurah’sdystopian science-fiction nightmare Welcome II the Terrordome, the candy-colored musical Babymother, and even an episode of Wolcott - a TV show first broadcast in 1981 and never shown again which, pre-dating Idris Elba’s star turn as Luther, was billed as the first British TV show to be fronted by a Black detective. There’s plenty more to discover too, and we can’t wait to delve further into the collection over the next few weeks.
The Who We Are collection, is available to stream through BFI Player now, which is free to view for six weeks for all Showroom Members. Find out more info here.
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on 23 July 2020.