Watch John Akomfrah’s 1986 doc Handsworth Songs exploring racism toward Black people in Britain



With archival photographs, newsreel clips and interviews.

John Akomfrah and the Black Audio Film Collective’s 1986 documentary Handsworth Songs is now streaming via London’s Lisson Gallery.

Directed by Akomfrah and originally commissioned for the Channel 4 series Britain: The Lie of the Land in 1986, Handsworth Songs takes the 1985 riots and protests in the Handsworth district of Birmingham as its starting point.

Combining archival photographs, newsreel clips, and on-site interviews, the film explores the long-standing racism toward Black people in Britain, and the violent policing tactics used on Black communities.

“There are no stories in the riots, only the ghosts of other stories,” a woman tells a local journalist.

Handsworth Songs will stream until the 21st June via Lisson Gallery; head here to watch the film in full.

Photo courtesy of Lisson Gallery.