Some of the finest film performances by black actors will be celebrated at Phoenix cinema throughout December.
As part of the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Black Star season, Phoenix will screen four classic films which spotlight iconic actors such as Cuba Gooding Jr and Dorothy Dandridge in films including re-releases of Boyz N The Hood and Carmen Jones.
Spanning a wide range of genres and different decades, the season will give cinemagoers the opportunity to discover – or perhaps rediscover – films which feature strong characters and trail-blazing performances.
The celebration opens with the Oscar-nominated Boyz N The Hood (Sat 3 and Sun 4 Dec), re-released for the Black Star season, and featuring career defining performances from Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr and Ice Cube.
For one night only on Wed 7 Dec, we screen the seminal Carmen Jones, which features an all-black cast and garnered an Oscar-nomination for Dorothy Dandridge, the first ever for an African American actress in a lead role.
Nothing but a Man, hailed by the Washington Post as “one of the most sensitive films about black life ever made in this county”, depicts the harsh realities of the post-segregation American South, and centres on a terrific performance from Ivan Dixon. The film screens on Tue 20 Dec.
From the American South to pre-WWII Wales, The Proud Valley tells the story of an African-American drifter who begins to win over the respect of a Welsh mining town through his singing. Starring legendary singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson, The Proud Valley stands as a touching story of friendship and kinship across race and national borders, and was praised by Robeson as his favourite of all his films.
CARMEN JONES (U): Wed 7 Dec, 6.10pm
Dorothy Dandridge stars as the eponymous, smouldering temptress who lures handsome GI Joe (Calypso star Harry Belafonte) away from his sweetheart Cindy Lou (Olga James). Updating the original Bizet opera to a World War II setting, the film garnered an Oscar nomination for Dandridge, the first ever for an African American actress in a lead role.
NOTHING BUT A MAN (12A): Tue 20 Dec, 6.30pm
Living a life outside of society as a member of a railroad section gang, Duff eschews the mores of polite black society. That changes when he falls for Josie (jazz great Abbey Lincoln), whose family oppose their union. This brilliant, haunting picture of life among black residents of the post-segregation South deserves to take its place among the best social realist films of all time.
THE PROUD VALLEY (PG): Thu 29 Dec, 6.30pm
Paul Robeson plays David Goliath, a drifter from the American South who arrives in pre-WWII Wales looking for work, and wins the locals’ respect through his singing. It remains today an almost unique depiction of on-screen blackness for the time, with a multi-faceted hero of unique complexity – a politically active working man who transcends race and nationality.