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Sankofa Film and Video

Film Collective

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Sankofa Film and Video was set up in the summer of 1983 by five aspiring filmmakers: Isaac Julien, Martina Attille, Maureen Blackwood, Nadine Marsh-Edwards and Robert Crusz. Graduates from various art colleges and polytechnics in London, they were part of a wave of black independent filmmakers who emerged in the 1980s, determined to tell their own stories in their own way. Sankofa was one of several collectives and film workshops supported by the Greater London Council (abolished in 1986) and the new broadcaster Channel 4 to encourage diversity. Companies such as Retake Film and Video, Black Audio Film Collective, Ceddo and Sankofa introduced television and film audiences to new perspectives on British culture and specifically the Black and Asian experience of this culture.

Sankofa specialises in distinctive, short films. The Collective's earlier work - Who Killed Colin Roach? (d. Isaac Julien, 1983), Territories (d. Julien, 1984) and Passion of Remembrance (d. Maureen Blackwood 1986), their first full length feature, foregrounds their interest in politics, sexuality and Black British history. Other films such as Dreaming Rivers (d. Martina Attille, 1988) and Looking For Langston (d. Julien, 1989,) uncover personal histories with sensitivity and lyricism. In the late 1990s, their production slate has broadened to include stories about British Chinese life (Yellow Fever, d. Raymond Yeung, 1998) and the work of new writers and directors like Toa Stappard (Strip, 1998) and Mina Courtauld (Dusty's Story, 1998). Among their several awards is Cannes' short film Palme d'Or winner, ...Is It the Design on the Wrapper (d. Tessa Sheridan, 1997).

Ann Ogidi

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From the BFI's filmographic database

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Territories (1984)Territories (1984)

Radical documentary exploring black culture and the media

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Film as an ideological weapon

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Thumbnail image of Julien, Isaac (1960-)Julien, Isaac (1960-)