N/N: Handsworth Songs
Director(s): John Akomfrah
Fest Year: 2018
In Person: Sound artists Trevor Mathison & Gary Stewart
“A journalist is pestering a middle-aged black woman. He wants her opinion. …She looks at him and calmly says, ‘There are no stories in the riots. Only the ghosts of other stories.'” As reporters clamber to pinpoint a simple cause for the civil disorder in 1980s Birmingham and London, the Black Audio Film Collective invoke the past in their brilliant, inventively assembled debut Handsworth Songs. The Collective vigorously blends jolting footage of police interference with on-the-street interviews, as well as archival photography and newsreel clips of post-war black and Asian immigrants. The film aired on Channel 4 in 1986, sparking a debate in The Guardian between Salman Rushdie and Stuart Hall, the latter praising the film for its original techniques and for “making us look in new ways.” (CB)Screens for free as a part of the Neither/Nor Film Series. Neither/Nor is presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.