Burning an Illusion

Burning an Illusion

classified 15

Restored & Rediscovered


Please note: This was screened in July 2022

Menelik Shabazz
Victor Romero, Cassie McFarlane
105 mins, 1981, UK
Primary language

“When I started to take a more serious interest in the moving image and cinema in my late teens and early twenties in the early/mid-90s, I would read Black Filmmaker Magazine (founded by Menelik Shabazz) regularly to inform myself about what was going on diasporically in the film industry for Black creatives. There was no internet, no blogs and no smartphones at the time, so in addition to attending events and screenings, reading magazines was the only way to find out what was going on.” Adam Murray, Film programmer, filmmaker, writer/critic and broadcaster

A year after Menelik Shabazz sadly passed away on 29 June 2021 while working on a new film in Zimbabwe, we present his seminal debut feature, newly remastered courtesy of the BFI.

Pat (Cassie McFarlane), an ordinary working-class London girl, has a caring family, a job she enjoys and her own flat. Like all drama, the film is about characters facing conflicts.

Shot around the communities of Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove during the Thatcher years, this love story is a powerful, aspirational tale of political and emotional emancipation. It was the first British film to give a central voice to a Black woman, completely centering the female experience.