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Burning an Illusion (DVD)


Love story tracing the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher’s London,directed by Menelik Shabazz

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A pioneering first feature from Menelik Shabazz, much of it shot around the Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove communities, Burning an Illusion marked a coming of age for black British cinema. A film about transformation and identity, it is a love story that traces the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher's London. It was the first British film to give a central voice to a black woman, charting her journey to emotional maturity, political awakening and emancipation.

Pat Williams, played by the award-winning Cassie McFarlane, is a London girl with a caring family, her own flat and a job that she enjoys, who looks forward to settling down to a comfortable married life. Her dream is shattered when she meets Del (Victor Romero), a charming but vaguely discontented toolmaker, who soon moves in and then loses his job causing them both to challenge their assumptions about each other and their aspirations.

Burning an Illusion won the Grand Prix at the Amiens Film Festival in France and Cassie McFarlane won the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising New Actress for her riveting performance as Pat.

  • Filmed introduction with Menelik Shabazz.
  • Commentary by Menelik Shabazz, Cassie McFarlane and Victor Romero.
  • Short film: Blood Ah Goh Run (Menelik Shabazz, 1982).
  • 8-page illustrated booklet containing film notes by Bonnie Greer, director biography, film review, Black Pioneers - an essay by Inge Blackman, and credits.
  • Student notes written by Joel Karamath have also been made available by the BFI to support study of this film.
Additional Information
More Information
SKU 5035673005255
Catalogue Number BFIVD525
Subtitle A film by Menelik Shabazz
Year 1981
Director Shabazz, Menelik
Format DVD
Publisher(s) BFI
Countries UK
Aspect ratio 1.66:1
Colour Colour
Sound Sound
Subtitles English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles
Language(s) English
Running time 101
DVD region 2
Certificate 15
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