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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield

The third annual S.O.U.L. Fest returns to BFI Southbank this August (NEWS)


From 18th -22nd August, the festival will celebrate the best of Black cinema and Black filmmakers and will include:

  • A series of talks by industry experts from BBC Film and Sony Pictures

  • Exclusive preview of Nia DaCosta’s CANDYMAN

  • Short Film programme featuring new work from Black British Filmmakers

  • An inaugural awards ceremony, including a posthumous “Impact Award” for Menelik Shabazz

After 12 months away from cinemas, the third annual S.O.U.L (Screening Our Unseen Lives) Film Festival returns this month, providing a platform for Black Cinema as well as offering the opportunity for Black British creatives to hear from senior industry executives on how to thrive within the film industry.

From 18th -22nd August, the festival (founded by S.O.U.L Celebrate Connect, The British Blacklist, The New Black Film Collective and We Are Parable) will take place in multiple venues, including BFI Southbank, and Picturehouse venues in Stratford, Crouch End, Brixton and Central London.

Iyare Igiehon, Director of S.O.U.L Film Festival says “Having brought the festival completely online, it’s great to be back in live venues, and see our audiences experience our screenings and events. We can’t wait to welcome everybody back.”

As part of a line-up of films that include yet to be released titles and encore screenings, the S.O.U.L Film Festival is delighted to announce an exclusive preview screening of the highly anticipated CANDYMAN, directed by Nia DaCosta on the 22nd of August at BFI Southbank.

Other screenings include AILEY, an intimate exploration of the iconic American dancer (21st August, BFI Southbank, 5.50), THE SIT-IN, a documentary which looks at Harry Belafonte’s ground-breaking five-day stint as the host of The Tonight Show, and REBEL DREAD, an insightful and often humorous take into the life of renaissance man, Don Letts.

Black British films have always been a cornerstone of the festival and this year’s iteration is no exception, with nine shorts being shown as part of a symposium hosted at BFI Southbank on 21st August, including new work from Daniel Rands, Adeyemi Michael, Jennifer Martin and Dubheasea Lanipekun. New for this year is an awards ceremony which will recognise acting, screenwriting, directing and wider crafts.

A new partnership with BBC Film has also added three shorts to the programme that will play out of competition; the BAFTA nominated LIZARD by Akinola Davies Jr., DAWN IN THE DARK by Runyararo Mapfumo and EXPENSIVE SHIT by Adura Onashile.

“Despite a year of uncertainty in the film industry, the titles and shorts that we have selected has shown that the quality of work is as high as it's ever been,” Anthony Andrews, S.O.U.L Film Festival co-founder says. “From a unique take on the cruelty of the immigration process, to a five minute cab ride that exposes more than could be imagined, these stories are a wonderfully accurate reflection of life in Britain for people of colour.”

A range of talks for emerging filmmakers about how to develop their careers will be hosted at the festival, which explore just how creatives get their ideas from “script to screen”, a fascinating insight into how Sony developed the recent “Anne Boleyn”, to how to pitch a story. Additional workshops and conversations hosted by BBC Film, ScreenSkills and the National Film and Television School will offer detailed discussion on costume design, gaming and much more. A special Q+A with the creators behind BBC Three’s DREAMING WHILST BLACK, Adjani Salmon and Sebastian Thiel will take place.

As part of the newly designed award ceremony, the S.O.U.L Film Festival has also created an “Impact Award”, a recognition of an individual, group or collective who have significantly contributed to widening the scope of Black British Cinema. The festival team have decided to posthumously present the award to the filmmaker, Menelik Shabazz.

“Menelik Shabazz was a trailblazer, a fearless filmmaker, and his passing has left a huge gap in our industry,” Igiehon says. “It fills us with regret that we couldn’t present him with this honour while he was with us, but we hope that the award can encourage audiences to familiarise themselves with his back catalogue.”

The S.O.U.L Film Festival 2021 is partnering with Film Feels: Hopeful, a UK-wide season, supported by the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) using National Lottery funding. Find full UK listings and events at

The S.O.U.L Film Festival 2021 is supported by Screenskills.

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