Oban cinema celebrates films starring people of colour

Leisure Oban Phoenix Cinema marketing manager Marco Pacitti

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Oban Phoenix Cinema is gearing up to show a season of films led by people of colour.

From the end of October until the end of March on a Friday night or a Monday afternoon, 11 films will be shown as part of a celebration of onscreen diversity at the independent George Street venue.

Many will have a question and answer session at the end or a forum for discussion.

The initiative coincides with this year’s Black History Month in October and follows the unexpected death in August at the age of 43 of Chadwick Boseman, an actor, producer, writer and director.

Jenny Larney, cinema manager, said the venue was participating in a study about audience development called Amplify run by Film Hub Scotland which aimed to create a network of venues showing a rich mix of films and welcoming a diverse audience.

Jenny, who is closely involved in programming, said the point of the cinema was to represent a ‘wider world’ beyond rural Argyll and offer cinemagoers an eclectic mix.

As an example of the barriers, she said she had tried to source a British comedy film starring a black British actress only to find one had never been made for the big screen, unlike in the US.

Marco Pacitti, marketing manager, added: ‘As a venue that shows a range of films, I think it’s important to highlight that talent on screen and it’s important for Oban as well.’

The run will open with 2019’s Rocks, a British coming-of-age drama currently on Netflix.

By Suffragette director Sarah Gavron, it stars Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D’angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson and Ruby Stokes.

The run of films will feature contemporaries including 2020’s The Lost Prince starring French actor Omar Sy, to classics such as 1967’s In The Heat of the Night with Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs. Poitier became the first black male to win an Oscar for best actor, awarded in 1964.

Other films include 2016’s Fences starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the latter having become the first African-American actress to win the ‘triple crown’ – an Oscar, an Emmy and two Tony awards, recognising her performances across film, TV and theatre. Chris Tucker’s star turn in 1997’s The Fifth Element is also planned.

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