Whilst cinemas are closed and screenings on hold, sadly its not possible for us to share films in the usual way. Thankfully though, a growing number of top independent films are available to stream from home – often for free – allowing you to continue discovering brilliant films from around the world.
With this in mind we’ve launched Hyde Park Picks to share some of some of the best films available online, with picks coming from Picture House staff, volunteers and partner organisations. We'll also be including occasional non-film recommendations too, from podcasts and books, to other fun bits that we think you'd like.
Throughout June we will be using our platform to better amplify the voices of Black artists, with all our regular #HydeParkPicks consisting of films directed by Black filmmakers. Over the course of the next month we will be reaching out to black curators and collectives - as well as you our audience - as we try to use the platform we have the privilege of holding to help share the stories of black lives globally.
DETAILS: FR/SN, 106mins, 12A
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Available to watch on Netflix
ABOUT THE FILM:
After a group of unpaid construction workers disappear at sea one night having gone in search of a better life abroad, the women they have left behind in Dakar are overwhelmed with a mysterious fever. Ada, 17, is amongst those left grieving despites the fact she has been promised to another man. Mati Diop’s Atlantics won the Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, marking the first time in 72 years that a Black woman had won the top award at the festival. If you want to see more by Mati Diop her 2009 short film Atlantiques is free for anyone to view on MUBI UK & Ireland as of today here: mubi.com/films/atlantiques.
Hair Love (2019)
DETAILS: US, 7mins, U
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Available for free on Youtube here
ABOUT THE FILM: Academy Award Winning short film Hair Love is a beautiful animation directed by Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce W. Smith. Funny and deeply, Hair Love tells the story of an African-American father learning how to his daughter’s hair for the first time. Cherry, who wrote the film, said of it’s inspiration “This story was born out of seeing a lack of representation in mainstream animated projects, and also wanting to promote hair love amongst young men and women of colour. It is our hope that this project will inspire.”
Killer of Sheep (1977) & To Sleep with Anger - A Charles Burnett Double Bill
DETAILS: US, 120mins, 12A – 1990, 101mins, 12A
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Killer of Sheep is Free to stream on Milestone Films here and To Sleep With Anger is available for rent on Amazon
ABOUT THE FILM: “So many memories stretch along tracks like these”. Two small, but key scenes link today’s #HydeParkPick double bill, written and directed by Charles Burnett. In Killer of Sheep (1977), children play on a railway line and around the trucks, and in To Sleep With Anger (1990), two men, wandering beside the rails, recall difficult times past. Whilst these scenes subtly expose a threat of violence and subjugation inherently rooted within the American system, both films are nonetheless infused with a deep warmth and humour. With naturalistic beauty, great soundtracks and fantastic ensemble performances by adults and children alike, they effortlessly tease out the poetry and politics of the everyday.
Killer of Sheep is set in mid-1970s Los Angeles where Stan, numbed by his work at a slaughterhouse, attempts to navigate his family life and, with the other people of his poor neighbourhood, survive their enforced inertia together. Although rarely screened, Killer of Sheep is rightly regarded as one of the great masterpieces of modern American cinema.
Featuring a terrific performance by Danny Glover, To Sleep With Anger, Burnett’s third film, is a lyrical depiction of family resilience. When an enigmatic old friend turns up on their doorstep, a seemingly peaceful household is mysteriously disrupted by his presence, exposing deep seated tensions and resentments. A perfect companion piece that weaves together mysticism and tradition with the modern world.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018)
DETAILS: US, 76mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: To rent from Amazon or included with Prime
ABOUT THE FILM:
With Sheffield Doc/Fest launching their new watch on demand platform last week it feels like a good time to revisit one of our favourite films from festivals past, Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018). Filmed over five years, the feature debut of filmmaker and photographer RaMell Ross captures a series of intimate and unencumbered moments from the life of the community of Hale County, Alabama. While proudly trumpeting the beauty of life as well as the consequences of structural racism, Ross’ film is a testament to dreaming despite the odds and an important reminder of how all #BlackLivesMatter.
If you’d like to hear more about the film why not check out this brilliant Q&A with RaMell Ross from the 2018 Doc/Fest
Handsworth Songs (1987)
DETAILS: UK, 61mins, U
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Handsworth Songs is available to watch for free from now until Sunday 21st June over on the Lisson Gallery website
ABOUT THE FILM: We'd like to draw your attention to a rare opportunity to watch Handsworth Songs, a film produced in 1986 by the Black Audio Film Collective and commissioned by Channel 4. It was directed by John Akomfrah, whose film The Stuart Hall Project was a #HydeParkPick last week. Handsworth Songs is another fascinating essay film by Akomfrah, whose deft editing of archival materials allows expansive meditations on race, class, history, politics and media to emerge around very specific times and places, in this case Birmingham in the 1980s. Starting out in documentary style in the aftermath of the 1985 Birmingham riots, the film combines interviews with local people and newsreel clips of Conservative Home Secretary Douglas Hurd visiting the scene to set out its context of race relations, civil unrest and policing. It then diverges into a juxtaposition of images, poetry and archive clips, as if we're being asked to locate the origins of the crisis in the visible and audible traces of the lives of Britain's different communities during what Walter Benjamin might call 'a moment of danger'. Strands of British history are interwoven with fascinating moments of contemporary cultural production, for example Mark Stewart and the Maffia's searing mash up of orchestral samples from William Blake's 'Jerusalem' with dub beats and snare drums: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZa-OAF0unk Watching this film 30+ years after it was made, you have to wonder if Channel 4 would screen, let alone commission, anything like it today. "The first years of Channel 4 were an exhilarating period" says Rod Stoneman in his article for tribune Magazine https://www.tribunemag.co.uk/2020/06/when-channel-4-was-radical
They're hosting an online discussion with John Akomfrah, Thursday 18th June, 8pm. Details of how to join are here: https://www.lissongallery.com/news/-john-akomfrah-tina-campt-ekow-eshun-..."
I Am Not a Witch (2017)
DETAILS: UK/FR/DE/ZM, 93mins, 12A
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: £2.49 to rent on YouTube / Google / Amazon
ABOUT THE FILM:
Suggested to us by Terry Wragg of Leeds Animation Workshop, I Am Not A Witch is a magical realist delight made by Zambian-Welsh writer director Rungano Nyoni. It was Nyoni’s first feature film and gained her the BAFTA for best new director in 2017.
It's an allegorical tale, centered around Shula, a female orphan in rural Zambia. At just nine years old she is 'discovered' to be a witch, an accusation that has permanent consequences. In some parts of Africa, people believe in the literal existence of witches and think that they bring bad fortune. Rungano Nyoni spent time in Ghana at a 'witch camp' for exiled women (the scapegoats are always women). She noticed that ""the witches were essentially harnessed to that camp"" and used white ribbons in the film as a metaphor for this.
In the film, little Shula is taken to a camp that is a kind of state-run enterprise, where the men in power delegate hard labour to the women, all of whom wear the white ribbons to mark them out and prevent them from escaping. It is believed that if you cut the ribbon you are no better than a goat, and so within its litany of symbolism and metaphor, the film presents an incisive critique of the limits to freedom of choice for women all over the world.
Losing Ground (1982)
DETAILS: US, 86mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Losing Ground has been made available for free by the Criterion Channel here
ABOUT THE FILM:
Losing Ground was chosen by Leeds film programmer Mosa Mpetha. Mosa curates film events in Leeds as #MashiyaPresents and is also part of the Scalarama Leeds team. She has this to say about the film…
“This film is a complex, chaotic and rich marriage drama. It features a black middle class couple that are in an increasingly disparate time in their relationship. The husband Victor (Bill Gunn) is an artist and has a romantic, dreamy yet narcissistic haze about him...The wife Sara (Seret Scott) is a researcher and her hyper focus parallels her husband’s bubble of self-importance. The couple are on their individual paths in the search for artistic ecstasy and this is reflected in growing pace and climactic hedonistic scenes…There are some brilliant fast-paced back and forths about race, philosophy and expression. It is a refreshing film that gives a beautiful insight to a black female experience that is honest and messy. It is a true tragedy that there is only one film by the impressive Kathleen Collins.”