BLACK TO LIFE
Akinola Davies Jr.
"Black to Life" (2019) serves as a family portrait and an ode to documenting the collective identity of Akinola Davies Jr.’s community. Commissioned by the BBC, the film acts as a moving collage, delving into forgotten and concealed aspects of Black British history and culture. The series comprises five short portraits, each highlighting notable individuals and their artifacts from Black British society, who have been overlooked in mainstream narratives, but had an impressive story to tell.
These historical figures from different times stand proudly and collectively together, supporting each other. This includes Yoruba Princess Omoba Aina Forbes-Bonetta, Prince Alemayehu, Mary Fillis, Edward Swarthye, and Dido Belle Long, among others. Davies brings them into an intimate setting; in a way that feels pertinent for a digital generation to identify lost histories and the imbalance of the narratives with which we’re so often presented. As always in Davies’s movies, the camera work employs a combination of slow, foreboding movements, gently inviting viewers to engage with the stories he creates through the language of portraiture with joy and pride. It’s a reminder to ring-fence our communities, to indicate their value and to be the custodians worthy of protecting them.