BFI celebrates Pam Grier with new season

BFI Southbank celebrate iconic actor Pam Grier with new season of films from 1 September – 4 October.

– Includes onstage Q&As with Pam Grier at BFI Southbank, as well as Q&As at partner venues MAC (Midlands Arts Centre) in Birmingham and Ritzy Picturehouse in Brixton.
– Curated by film scholar Mia Mask (Vassar College, NY), who will explore Grier’s career in a season introduction, PAM GRIER: ICON AND TRAILBLAZER, on 8 September.
– Also includes a 25th anniversary reissue of Jackie Brown, re-released by Park Circus in selected cinemas from 16 September.

The BFI has announced the programme for PAM GRIER: FOXY, FIERCE AND FEARLESS, a major new retrospective dedicated to one of the legends of 1970s Black action cinema; programmed by film scholar Mia Mask, the season will run at BFI Southbank from 1 September – 4 October.

The centrepiece of the season will be PAM GRIER IN CONVERSATION on 9 September, where the iconic star will take to the BFI Southbank stage to discuss her incredible career, as well as a special screening of FOXY BROWN (Jack Hill, 1974) on 10 September, which will be followed by a Q&A with Grier. Pam Grier will also take part in Q&As at Ritzy Picturehouse and MAC on 10 September and 11 September respectively, with both cinemas showing key films from her career as well.

Season programmer, Mia Mask, has commented that: “Grier rose to prominence as the merciless, coffee-coloured, avenging femme fatale in sexploitation and Blaxploitation movies of the 1970s. These were campy and irreverent films in which women confronted the iron cage of patriarchy, and Black women challenged gender, race and class hierarchies. Grier became an icon because she represented activists working in the “real” world; her characters were powerful women who symbolised figures like politician Shirley Chisholm, scholar Angela Davis, and Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver, all of whom continue to resonate with contemporary political struggles.”

This 14-film retrospective presents three stages of Grier’s unorthodox career – firstly, the early ‘Sexploitation start-up’ phase, characterised by women-in-prison pictures such as THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (Jack Hill, 1971) and BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA (Eddie Romero, 1973). Next, the Blaxploitation cult classics such as COFFY (Jack Hill, 1973), FOXY BROWN (Jack Hill, 1974) and SHEBA, BABY (William Girdler, 1975), in which women were finally depicted as active narrative agents. Finally, the later nostalgia phase in which Grier leant her gravitas to films like IN TOO DEEP (Michael Rymer, 1999), BONES (Ernest Dickerson, 2001) and Quentin Tarantino’s reverential JACKIE BROWN (1997), the latter of which will be re-released by Park Circus on 16 September to mark its 25th anniversary.

Season programmer Mia Mask will give a richly illustrated talk, PAM GRIER: ICON AND TRAILBLAZER, on 8 September; the talk will explore Grier’s career and introduce the films in the season. This season introduction also includes a discussion with guest speakers offering different approaches to Grier’s star persona as well as her influence in cinema and popular culture. BFI Southbank’s regular PHILOSOPHICAL SCREENS event series, which explores cinema through a philosophical lens, will focus on JACKIE BROWN (Quentin Tarantino, 1997) on 20 September. Regular film philosophers Lucy Bolton and Catherine Wheatley, as well as guest speaker John Ó Maoilearca, will consider the film’s homage to Grier and her place in cinema history.

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