“The Black Film Bulletin magazine ceased publication toward the turn of the new millenium. In revisiting the plethora of African Diaspora perspectives captured within this retrospective snapshot of the BFB archive, and in pondering the politics and context of a present day ‘Black Cinema’ – the question posed in 2014 must surely be: Is now the ripe moment for a Black Film Bulletin revival?”
(Jan Asante: CULTURE KINETICA™/ September 2014)
Black Film Bulletin emerged at the British Film Institute, London in 1993. Founded by editors June Givanni and Gaylene Gould, the magazine was a space for critical commentary around developments in new Black cinema and Pan African Cinema histories. Capturing dynamic happenings unfolding in the world of African Diaspora film, the BFB magazine reflected a significant renaissance moment for Black filmmaking culture globally in the 1980s and early 1990s.
This retrospective look through the Black Film Bulletin magazine archive revisits a symbolic selection of interviews, interventions, provocations and conferences, as seen through varied voices of African and African Diaspora filmmakers, writers and culture curators.
Among the gems recaptured in this BFB revival, director John Akomfrah’s ‘Wishful Filming’ launches BFB’s inaugural issue with unflinching insight on both the complexities of Black aesthetics and an emergent British Black cinema. In ‘A Tale Of Transitions’ British-Nigerian director Ngozi Onwurah muses on the particular politics of biracial identity and Black cinema, as seen through the lens of a woman filmmaker. From the other side of the Atlantic, African-American cinematographer Arthur Jafa questions whether ‘Black cinema’ has indeed been achieved at all? The hybridity of Pan-Caribbean cinema is explored through the testimonies of legendary Trinidadian/UK director Horace Ové, as well as through the lens of venerated Haitian filmmaker and cultural statesman, Raoul Peck. Iconic figures of Pan African Cinema; Ousmane Sembene and Haile Gerima, weigh in respectively on the ‘State of African Cinema’ and the imperative challenge- ‘Decolonizing Film.’
How to decolonize film? This challenge, or rather this prevailing cultural question; posed specifically to the makers and consumers of Pan Africanist Cinema and to the leading voices championing a new ‘Black cinema’ movement in the early 1990s, was the constant refrain that was to reverberate throughout the Black Film Bulletin era.