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.
Daughters of the Dust (1991)
DETAILS: US, 112mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Watch it now for £3.99 on Curzon Home Cinema.
ABOUT THE FILM: The beautiful and dreamlike Daughters of the Dust (1991) was the feature film debut of director Julie Dash. Set in 1902, on the Sea Island of St Helena in South Carolina, an isolated community of island descendants of former West African slaves are keeping alive the traditions and stories of their ancestors. The film follows one multigenerational family as they struggle to maintain their way of life and their cultural identity while contemplating migrating to the mainland.Dash's film is a landmark title in contemporary American cinema for a number of reasons. Recently it was introduced to a new audience in part because of the way in which it influenced Beyoncé's remarkable visual album, Lemonade (2016). To find out more about how these two texts relate check out this fascinating piece, "Beyoncé vs Daughters of the Dust: How an American indie classic inspired Lemonade " by writer and musician Stephanie Phillips which you can find via the BFI here https://bit.ly/2Zbhtdr
Battledream Chronicle (2015)
DETAILS: Martinique, 108mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Rent it for £1.79 https://vimeo.com/ondemand/battledreamchronicle
ABOUT THE FILM: Battledream Chronicle (2015, recommended 12A) is an afrofuturistic animated feature film from the Caribbean island of Martinique, produced and directed by Alain Bidard. Since its Caribbean premiere in 2015, the film has been shown at festivals all over the world, picking up several Best Film awards in the process. It's 2100 and the world has become so polluted that people can no longer go outside, instead they live virtually in an online dimension. Syanna, a young Martinican, refuses to keep living in this condition and decides to fight to regain her freedom in Battledream, a video game where winners become heroes. She calls on powers from Creole mythology to help gain special skills to win. The film draws from the histories of colonialism and enslavement in the Caribbean and places black women centre stage in the struggle against the legacies of corrupt and oppressive colonial and neo-colonial power.At the film’s premiere in Trinidad, director Alain Bidard met Christella Litras, a musician, composer & performer based in Leeds. She loved the film and wanted to work on a soundtrack for Alain's new project. When Christella was offered a week-long residency at Opera North to develop an original performance idea within their Resonance programme, she was able to bring Alain to Leeds from Martinique. We were delighted to host the Leeds premiere with them both at the Hyde Park Picture House!
Fruitvale Station (2013)
DETAILS: US, 85mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Available to watch on Netflix.
ABOUT THE FILM: Fruitvale Station was Ryan Coogler’s feature film debut. With Michael B. Jordan (Creed) taking the lead it meticulously and respectfully documents the true events on New Years’ Eve 2008 which led to the death of Oscar Grant III. Grant’s murder at the hands of Police officer Johannes Mehserle was caught on camera by various onlookers. Mehserle was charged with second-degree murder though ultimately was only convicted for involuntary manslaughter and ended up serving only 11 months. On his thinking behind writing Fruitvale Station and telling Grant’s story Coogler said: “Violence is a reality for people like us, such a reality. It’s so unfortunate. I knew that his story would speak to that. I had a need to speak to things we deal with on a day-to-day basis. So few get our stories told by us. I knew I had an inherent responsibility to show things we struggle with every day, things that are good in our lives, the human relationships we have with people we love, with our kids. Because that is not often shown in the media, it often leads to issues where we are not seen as full human beings.” Coogler received extensive praise for Fruitvale station including winning Un Certain Regard - Avenir Prize at Cannes. Two years later with Creed (2015) he breathed new life into the Rocky franchise which led to him directing and co-writing Black Panther (2018), which we also recommend watching this week, as we continue to focus on the work of Black directors.
Black Panther (2018)
DETAILS: US, 134mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Available to watch on Disney+ or to buy on Amazon Prime.
ABOUT THE FILMS: On the surface Black Panther is a world away from Fruitvale Station. Part of the Marvel Avengers franchise the film follows T'Challa, heir to the hidden kingdom of Wakanda as he must step forward to lead his people into a new future. On undertaking the project Coogler was clear that he felt an essential part of the project was exploring and expressing what it meant to be African. Speaking to Rolling Stone he said: “In the diaspora, the Africa we tend to hear about is this fantasy place,” he says. “Because it’s hard to tell a child about slavery – it’s so dire and so awful that you kind of have to balance it with something. So we get this fairy-tale version of Africa. We were kings and queens, and we walked around and ate perfect food, and everyone was free. It becomes,” he says, “kind of like Wakanda.” You can find that full interview here https://bit.ly/2Afbwns
Black Girl (1966)
DETAILS: Senegal, 65mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Available to watch with a subscription to The Criterion Channel.
ABOUT THE FILM: A landmark title in African cinema, Black Girl (1966) was the first feature film by Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène. The story follows a young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white family. Once there she finds that life in the small apartment becomes a prison, both figuratively and literally.As well as being a visually stunning film with a remarkable central performance by M’Bissine Thérèse Diop, Black Girl is a furiously political work. Within the microcosm of this small french apartment Sembène re-enacts the violence and opression of Post colonial structures in miniature. Back in 2016 we were lucky enough to welcome academic and filmmaker Samba Gadijo who was touring to discuss his film Sembène! which he had made about the legendary filmmaker. Sadly Sembène! isn't currently available to rent in the UK but you can see an extended interview with him here at Google Talks in which he talks about Sembène's incredible legacy https://bit.ly/31g6Ats
DETAILS: Zambia, 14mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Watch it for free on Vimeo here vimeo.com/348304224
ABOUT THE FILM: Directed by Nuotama Bodomo, Afronauts is a striking short film inspired by the story of the Zambian Space Program. It's July 16, 1969: America is preparing to launch Apollo 11. Thousands of miles away, the Zambia Space Academy hopes to beat America to the moon in this fictionalized film inspired by real events as well as simultaneously exploring concepts around the Black body. The US and Russia are generally considered to have been the two main players fighting to 'conquer' space in the 1950s and 60s. However, as this film shows, a number of other nations had some form of active space program at the time.
DETAILS: India, 84mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Streaming now on MUBI, sign up for 3 months free access here: mubi.com/hydepark.
ABOUT THE FILM: When a husband leaves his new wife for five years to make his fortune, a ghost, living nearby in a Banyan tree, falls in love with the bride and takes the form of her missing spouse. Far from the melodrama of mainstream Bollywood, Duvidha is a quietly poignant film, but no less vibrant, in it’s use of light, colour and composition - the film's hushed tone punctuated by an incredible score of Rajasthani folk music. It also doesn’t shy away from the pressures and restrictions of patriarchy and tradition, highlighted by the devastating stoicism of star Raisa Padamsee. From a western perspective, it’s both reminiscent of Chris Marker’s La Jetée in its use of voice over and static shots, and the palette and poetics of Sergei Parajanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates. It is a genuine classic of Indian cinema. MUBI also features more background detail on Duvidha and director Mani Kaul here: https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-ghosts-of-mani-kaul-close-up-on-duvidha https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/improvisations-on-a-scale-the-cinema-of-...
DETAILS: UK, 101mins
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT: Rent it online for £3.50 from BFI Player, Prime or Google Play.
ABOUT THE FILM: A heady mix of hedonism and utopianism, Beats is set amid the free rave scene in 1990s Scotland, just as the newly introduced Criminal Justice Bill gave police the power to shut down any event “characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”. Beats is a story of electronic music and self-discovery, based on a play written by Kieran Hurley, who adapted it for the film’s screenplay. Two teenage friends, Spanner and his best mate Johnno, must navigate their way through a series of mishaps, misunderstandings and misadventures together as they search for the ultimate massive night out. "I felt like it was articulating my own experience" said director Brian Welsh "There was something universal about the story, but also quite culturally specific.” There is also something inherently political in making a film like Beats, which was produced by Ken Loach’s Sixteen Films. “The criminal justice bill was really an attack on dissent” Welsh said, “I want to make films that have something to say - about the world that we live in now, or then. And there’s a very big questioning of larger forces, powers of authority in our lives, and the justification for that authority.” The film was made with the support of the BFI and Creative Scotland and had its world premiere at Rotterdam Film Festival early last year. It also picked up five nominations at the 2019 BIFA Film Awards, who will present it on the evening of Friday 3rd July with a special live cast and crew commentary! More details of this special event here: https://www.bifa.film/event/friday-3-july-beats-live/