Abdelkader Benali in conversation John Akomfrah
ECF’s Imagining Europe event closed on Sunday in Amsterdam – with a film screening and conversation with British film-maker John Akomfrah that explored notions of immigration and cultural identity in a new Europe.
Born in Accra, Ghana in 1957 and raised in London, Akomfrah founded the Black Audio Film Collective, producing films that combine aesthetics and the power of documentary and themed on culture, immigration, integration and intercultural exchange. His work has earned him many accolades, including the ECF Princess Margriet Award earlier this year.
In conversation with Dutch journalist and writer Abdelkader Benali, Akomfrah spoke about his investigation into migrant memory and past. His own journey as a film-maker has been a process of imagining a different sensibility and a gaze towards migration that shows a European story very different from the one written by colonial and contemporary empires. Akomfrah never dwells on fixed notions of cultural identity or geographical belonging, but is continuously exploring the imaginative power of migration. In this clip Akomfrah looks at the shifting thought in Britain regarding empire and immigration in the 20th century.
Using archive material his films tell a story of immigration: investigating how environment affects your identity; what role your memories play; and how the experiences of immigrants permeate throughout the new Europe. He describes his experience in arriving to the UK in the clip below.
And lastly a clip describing his work in telling the stories of people in the 80's riots in England.
His most recent piece - The Unfinished Conversation, a three-screen installation based on the life, work and talk of the incomparable Jamaican-born thinker Stuart Hall - was showcased at the Liverpool Biennale 2012 and is described as "the best work in the bienniale" by the Guardian critic Adrian Searle. See his exhibition at the Carroll/Fletcher art space in London from 5 October to the 8 November 2012.