Skip to main content


UK, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: John Akomfrah

Where Isaac Julien's Young Soul Rebels (MFF, 1991) gave voice to the black youth dance-set of the mid-late 1970s, John Akomfrah's new film depicts, in a very differ­ent form, the little-seen face of 'black' swinging London through the 60s — a community caught up as much in contemporary political urgencies as in fashion trends. Bold and adven­turous in form — it works as a silent film despite the dialogue — the film flashes back from 1972 to the mid 60s, brilliantly illustrating the fate of its central characters over the decade.

"Documentary material tracing the life of Black activist Michael X (aka Abdul Malik) is set against dramatized fragments from the 60s and 70s of a fictional household of politicized hedonists. While examining the surviving con­tradictions of Michael X — committed idealist or con man, radical or Rachmanite, activist or assassin? — the film indulges itself in a sub­lime free-jazz soundtrack which substitutes for most of the mouthed but unheard dialogue of its actors. Inter-racial love affairs are acted out virtually in mime and period wigs and cos­tumes denote the passing years in droll fash­ion. Yet there's an increasingly desperate edge to the partying as we move towards the time of Malik's arrest.

The result is as much a critical lament for a period when cultural activity went hand-in-hand with its political equivalent, as it is a sharp attempt to match the improvisatory imperatives of jazz in film. Otherwise, Who Needs A Heart is possibly the hippest British film experiment for some time." • Nick James, City Limits

John Akomfrah, director of Who Needs A Heart and founder of Black Audio Film Collective, is a Festival guest and will introduce the screening.

See also...

The Midas Touch

In Thaddeus Grimm's comic strip factory, there is no rest for the funny. Then, one miser­able day, the Midas Touch company sends downtrodden cartoonist Archibald Scoggins a pen to change lives ... More »


It's London at the height of punk rock and the year of the Royal Jubilee,1977. Chris and Caz are two music fans with a pirate-radio show and a gig as house d.j.'s at a club that attracts white-punks ... More »

Secret Joy of Falling Angels

Another outstanding entry in the burgeoning British Gothic School of animation led by the Brothers Quay. ... More »


Director's Note "For twelve years I carried around with me a dozen film cans of film cut from a feature I made in 1978 called Nighthawks. The original running time of that film was around four hours ... More »


Anyone who has followed with interest the films of Derek Jarman will find cause for dehght m Edward II It seems to be the culmina­tion of everything the bold British director has been toying with ... More »


... ... This is a film. This is no ordinary film. Mon­ster In A Box is like no other film you've ever seen — unless you saw Swimming To Cam­bodia at the 1988 Melbourne Film Festival ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director