John Akomfrah & Black Audio Fillm Collective: Handsworth Songs (1986)

8 June 2020, dusan

Handsworth Songs was released in 1986 as a cultural response to social unrest in Birmingham and London in October 1985, looking at the way events unfolded, the two deaths (that of black woman Cynthia Jarrett and white policeman Keith Blakelock), and the subsequent media reaction.

Subsequently selected by Okwui Enwezor for inclusion in the 2002 Documenta XI in Kassel and acquired by Tate, this early work by the Black Audio Film Collective has become not only an influential touchstone for an entire genre of essayistic filmmaking, but an important document on the state of race relations in Britain since the landing of the Empire Windrush in 1948.”

“Through an impressionistic mélange of newsreel footage, photographs, and interviews, Handsworth Songs arrives at a powerful, allusive, and deeply personal statement about the black British experience.” (Ashley Clark)

Directed by John Akomfrah/Black Audio Film Collective, 1986
Produced by Lina Gopal
Commissioned by Channel 4 for their series Britain: The Lie of the Land
61 min

Interview with Collective: Paul Gilroy and Jim Pines (Framework, 1988).
Online discussion (18 June 2020)

Commentary: Salman Rushdie, Stuart Hall, Darcus Howe (The Guardian, 1987), Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer (Screen, 1988), Stuart Hall (ICA Documents, 1989, PDF), Kobena Mercer (The Independent, 1989), Mark Fisher (Sight & Sound, 2011), Dara Waldron (Open Library of Humanities, 2017), Ann Ogidi (BFI, n.d.).

Review: John Sutherland (American Historical Review, 1989).


WEBM (427 MB)

Volker Pantenburg: Farocki/Godard: Film as Theory (2006/2015)

18 July 2016, dusan

“There is a tension between the requirements of theoretical abstraction and the capacities of the film medium, where everything that we see on screen is concrete: A train arriving at a station, a tree, bodies, faces. Since the complex theories of montage in Soviet cinema, however, there have continuously been attempts to express theoretical issues by combining shots, thus creating a visual form of thinking.

This book brings together two major filmmakers-French New Wave master Jean-Luc Godard and German avant-gardist Harun Farocki to explore the fundamental tension between theoretical abstraction and the capacities of film itself, a medium where everything seen onscreen is necessarily concrete. Volker Pantenburg shows how these two filmmakers explored the potential of combined shots and montage to create ‘film as theory’.”

First published as Film als Theorie. Bildforschung bei Harun Farocki und Jean-Luc Godard, transcript, Bielefeld, 2006.

Translated by Michael Turnbull
Publisher Amsterdam University Press, 2015
Film Culture in Transition series
Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 License
ISBN 9789089648914
285 pages

Reviews: Dietmar Kammerer (, 2006, DE), Toni Hildebrandt (Senses of Cinema, 2015), Alex Fletcher (Review31, 2015), Chiara Marchini (Medienwissenschaft, 2016).