Bristol Radical Film Festival + The Black Panthers

BRFF panther night

In 1968 San Fransisco Newsreel, a radical film making organisation, worked with the Black Panthers to make the party’s first and only recruitment video, “Off the Pigs”. In this film we can see how the revolutionary ideas of Third World theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Che Guevara translate into a radical film language. Under the influence of Third Cinema film makers such as Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino (Argentina), not to mention the Urgent Cinema of Santiago Alvarez (Cuba), Newsreel created a series of films that militated against the forces of capitalism, racism and neo-colonialism. This required the development of a new film language, one that could not be assimilated by the system, and which was foreign to its needs.

See the film here: [youtube]

This is a good example of the collusion between radical film makers such as Newsreel and revolutionary organisations like Black Panther Party. In many ways it resonates today. Not only do film makers continue to develop a new film language, building new platforms upon which to instigate discussion and debate, but the politics of the Black Panther Party remain a benchmark for activists and community organisations the world over. Their ten point program is a simple way of translating revolutionary ideals into action. As the need to create sustainable communities is realised alongside the fact of capitalism’s collapse, it is not beyond the realms of possibility for today’s communities to work out their own ten point programs, or something similar, in order to arm ourselves against neo-liberalism.

This was one of the aims of the Bristol Radical Film Festival’s latest night of films and discussion on the Black Panthers. After finding a perfect venue, The Arc Bar, who were kind enough to give us the space for free, we decided to show William Klein’s 1973 film “Eldridge Cleaver: Black Panther” alongside the more contemporary “Who are the Angola 3?”. Together the films provided historical context while bringing the Black Panthers and their struggle into the present day. The venue was packed, which made for a rich and varied discussion. We also had some fantastic musicians who, again, were kind enough to grant us their services for free. After another great success it looks like BRFF is getting the hang of things. We will have to pay everyone back by continuing to use politically driven cinema as a catalyst for action.

If you have an idea for an event, or would like to get involved with BRFF in another way, or even if you just want some advice on starting your own radical film festival, we would love to hear from you, so feel free to get in touch.

You can see Who are the Angola 3 here: [youtube]

To find out more about Newsreel and other U.S. radical left film makers, you can read this brilliant book by Cynthia A. Young, here, or visit the California Newsreel website, here.

Other noteable films on black liberation: Edouard de Laurot’s “Black Liberation”, “The Nation Erupts”.

Author: Anthony Killick

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