News: BFI and TAPE Collective present new season exploring the nuances of being of mixed heritage

The BFI and T A P E Collective today announce BUT WHERE ARE YOU REALLY FROM? a season of films celebrating filmmakers who redefine, reject and re-establish identity and heritage labels, taking place at BFI Southbank throughout July. To launch this season T A P E Collective will take over the BFI’s online channels for a week, beginning on 28 June; T A P E will curate brand new films and collections on BFI Player, present online interviews and discussions, produce a zine and commission a digital exhibition of portraits responding to the cinematic themes of BUT WHERE ARE YOU REALLY FROM? The season at BFI Southbank will include classic films and feature-length and short films from new voices. From Ousmane Sembène’s ground-breaking debut BLACK GIRL (1966) and Fatih Akin’s heart-wrenching HEAD-ON (2004), to the beautifully considered and lyrical debut EYIMOFE (Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri, 2020) and Norway’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Academy Awards, WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY (Iram Haq, 2017).  

Special guests confirmed to take part in the season and takeover so far include director Ngozi Onwurah, whose film WELCOME II THE TERRORDOME (1995) was the first feature directed by a Black British woman to receive a UK theatrical release. Onwurah will take part in a Q&A with T A P E co-founder Angela Moneke following a screening on 29 July of SHOOT THE MESSENGER (2006), starring David Oyelowo as a teacher who faces a rude awakening when the identity and community he’s rejected and chastised, turns against him. Nikesh Shukla, who co-wrote the short film TWO DOSAS (Sarmad Masud, 2014) and edited the essay anthology The Good Immigrant, has had a huge influence on mixed-heritage writers, curators and filmmakers. On 23 July, In Conversation with Nikesh Shukla will see the acclaimed author speak with Isra Al Kassi from T A P E about his latest book Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home. The season will culminate on 30 July with CULTURE SHOCK: SHORT FILM PROGRAMME, a programme of short films selected from submissions responding to the theme of ‘But Where Are You Really From?’ presented by T A P E and UNDR LNDN. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with UNDR LNDN’s Caroline Wilson and Nellie Alston from T A P E, who will discuss the power of short films as an exploration of home and identity. More information and guidelines for this open submission, the deadline for which is 18 June, can be found at

T A P E Collective said, “It’s a universal sentiment experienced by those who have their feet in two worlds, exploring code-switching, trying to preserve language and the whitewashing of names – all resulting in the ‘othering’ in one’s own country; whether it be the first, second or third one. Now, this tongue-in-cheek nod to anyone who’s been asked the question is presented as a season exploring the nuances of being of mixed heritage. We hope to highlight the sheer volume of artistic work out there which addresses and responds to the experience of belonging to multiple cultures, and to further validate the voices of children of immigrants and mixed-heritage folk.”

The BFI is also partnering with T A P E Collective for the launch of Aleem Khan’s anticipated feature AFTER LOVE (2020), with a series of Q&A events with the director, hosted by T A P E co-founder Isra Al Kassi at Picturehouse Central, London (Sat 5 June); Castle Cinema, London (Sun 6 June); Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Brighton (Tue 8 June); and HOME, Manchester (Wed 9 June). 

Founded in 2015 as a response to the lack of representation on screen, T A P E are a curatorial collective comprising Angela Moneke, Nellie Alston and Isra Al Kassi, who often programme events around the themes of identity and heritage, observing the different ways in which filmmakers of mixed heritage attempt to respond to the question ‘but where are you really from?’. The season and takeover explore three themes; mother tongue, the significance of names, and the ‘good immigrant’ trope.



– BFI Player Subscription, Rentals and Free collections curated by T A P E, including a selection of shorts brand new to the platform.

– IGTV conversations with short filmmakers to watch, who are featured in the season.

– A roundtable about how mixed heritage identity feeds into filmmaking and art hosted by Tanyaradzwa Fear with special guests to be announced soon.

– A digital message board featuring anecdotes, thoughts and experiences shared by the public.

– An exhibition of portraits captured by Amaal Said.

– A deconstructed video essay responding to the need to define one’s identity through a mother tongue, name, and being a good immigrant.

– A free Digital Zine, featuring photography, personal essays, poetry, and illustrations.


– In EYIMOFE (Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri, 2020), Mofe and Rosa are two strangers hustling, moving and shaking towards dreams of a better life on distant shores. When tragedy and hardship threaten their future, they’re forced to reconcile with the more immediate realities of life at home. Screens alongsideWHAT’S IN A NAME? (Runyararo Mapfumo, 2020), a documentary short in which Brits explore the challenges they’ve encountered with their non-Western names.

– Elia Kazan’s PINKY (1949) is about a Black nurse who passes for white (contentious because Pinky is played by a white actor), who returns to visit her grandmother home after a doctor, unaware of her heritage, proposes to her. Screens alongside TWO (Daisy Ifama, 2017), in which two women discuss the complexities of defining their racial identities.

– After moving to Massachusetts from Kolkata, the Gangulis name their son Gogol in homage to a writer they hold dear in THE NAMESAKE (Mira Nair, 2006); but as Gogol grows up he struggles to identify with the name and his parent’s heritage alongside his own American identity. A screening on 14 July will introduced by a spoken word performance by three spoken word artists who will explore names as a source of both power and significance, as well as inherited or adopted trauma.

– In Ousmane Sembène’s groundbreaking debut feature BLACK GIRL (1966), Diouna longs for adventure beyond the borders of her Senegalese community. The chance to work for a wealthy white family in France seemingly offers up such an opportunity, but the stifling domestic duties are a far cry from her visions of a carefree new life, and her situation slowly twists into a toxic, post-colonial nightmare. Screens alongside I BIT MY TONGUE (Nina Khada, 2020) – can we get our mother tongue, and things lost with it, back?

– In WHILE WE LIVE (Dani Kouyaté, 2016) Ibbe, a Swedish-born hip-hop artist, is on the cusp of making it in the music industry, but an altercation with his Gambian-born mother, makes her want to return home… and Ibbe goes with her. Awaiting them in Gambia is a clash of cultures and the feeling that they’re neither Gambian nor Swedish enough. Screens alongside LIKE A FISH OUT OF WATER (Roxy Rezvany, 2020), a visceral battle between inner and outer identities.

– In Hong Khaou’s LILTING (2009), a grieving man goes to great lengths to befriend his late lover’s mother, a Chinese-Cambodian woman who never fully assimilated in London. Screens alongside TAAROF: A VERBAL DANCE (Alannah Olivia, 2018), about a young woman who attends the funeral of her estranged father.

– In BINTI (Frederike Migom, 2019) the titular character and her father don’t have the legal documents required to stay in Belgium, her arriving as a baby 12 years previously. As deportation looms over them, Binti devises a plan to enable them to stay in the country she considers home. Screens alongside YASMINA (Ali Esmili, Claire Cahen, 2018); heading home from football, Yasmina sees her father being arrested.

– Shot in the Caribbean-West London communities of the early 1980s, BURNING AN ILLUSION (Menelik Shabazz, 1981) was the first British film to put a black woman’s personal conflicts at the fore, giving a voice to a whole generation. Screens alongside BUT YOU’RE NOT BLACK (Danielle Ayow, 2019) about a Chinese-Caribbean-Canadian woman who tries to embrace her parents’ Trinidadian identity.

– SHOOT THE MESSENGER (Ngozi Onwurah, 2006) follows Joe (David Oyelowo), a secondary school teacher who faces a rude awakening as the identity and community he’s rejected and chastised, turns against him. Screens alongside BLACK SHEEP (Ed Parkins, 2019); on an estate run by racists, Cornelius tries to imitate the people who hate him.

– Based on the director’s own experience, WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY (Iram Haq, 2017), follows 16-year-old Nisha, who is kidnapped and taken from Norway to Pakistan by her parents after they catch her in bed with a boy. THE LONG GOODBYE (Aneil Kura, 2020) is a collaboration between director Aneil Kura and Riz Ahmed, looking at the nightmare of never being British enough.

– Fatih Akin’s HEAD-ON (2004) follows Sibel, who is in need of a fake Turkish husband to appease her parents. She agrees to co-exist with Cahit while leading different lives, but what transpires is an epic romance lasting years and spanning cities. Screens alongside SORRY, MY SOMALI IS NOT VERY GOOD (Warda Mohamed, 2020), a short about a young Somali woman who struggles with her mother tongue.


Audience members aged 25 and Under are able to buy tickets for BFI Southbank screenings, in advance or on the day, for just £3, through our ongoing ticket scheme for young audiences. Tickets for screenings between 17 May – 30 June are on sale now:


BFI Southbank will reopen on 17 May (pending confirmation that restrictions will be relaxed as planned), with health and safety measures including social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, continuing until government guidance advises otherwise. Full details of all measures in place to protect visitors and staff are available on the BFI website.

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