Chronic Youth Film Festival at the Barbican – Sat 17 & Sun 18 March 2018


Specially curated by the Barbican Young Programmers, Chronic Youth Film Festival returns for its third year with a bold weekend of films and events presenting unlikely stories from young and little-known voices on and off the screen.

From a stellar line up of short films from African filmmakers, stories that range from Occupation-era France to modern-day Missouri via Australia, this year’s selection explores the restless, exciting and fraught nature of childhood and adolescence.

The weekend is the culmination of the Barbican Young Programmers’ scheme, which is run by Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning in collaboration with the Cinema Department. A group of 1625 year-old movie enthusiasts, the Young Programmers meet regularly to develop their knowledge of film and the film industry. Over the course of the programme, the group have met critics, producers, distributors, directors and programmers and worked with Barbican marketing, curatorial, press and event management staff. 

Chronic Youth Film Festival is part of Barbican OpenFest, a weekend of art and entertainment including visual art, music, dance, workshops, markets, tours, talks and showcases in the iconic arts and learning centre and its surrounding streets and venues.

Film Programmers Meetup

Sat 17 Mar 12noon, drop-in at the Beech Street Café and Bar


This year’s festival kicks off with an opportunity to speed-chat with independent curators and programmers on the subject of being a film curator today: what is it like and what does it take? Guests attending the session, hosted by the Young Programmers, include: The Tape Collective, Reel Good Film Club, Skyla van der Pols and Barbican Young Programmers alumni.

Elsewhere Within Here: African Voices shorts programme (12A*)

+ panel discussion with film critic Fanta Sylla & Young Programmers

Sat 18 Mar 2.00pm Cinema 2

Including works by award-winning directors and strong new voices, a programme of four shorts by African filmmakers explores the realities of fulfilled childhoods surrounded by devastating events. Featuring just some of the outstanding African talents both in front and behind the camera, this selection follows its fearless protagonists as they come to grips with joy, ambition and the trauma of a lost childhood. After the screenings, a panel discussion will be held with the young programmers and French/Senegalese film critic Fanta Sylla (TIFF, Kenzo, Locarno), whose project Elsewhere Within Here ( on the meaning of place and home has inspired the short film programme.

Samedi Cinema

Senegal Dir Mamadou Dia 2016 11 min
Two children write letters to get enough money to go to the cinema. Saturday is their last chance to see the ending of the movie.

Petite Lumière

Senegal/France Dir Alain Gomis 2003 15 min
A charming vignette of childhood and awakening philosophical awareness in a young girl as she measures the fleetingly glimpsed textures of her daily life in Senegal.
Mwansa the Great

UK Dir Rungano Nyoni 2011 23 min
Mwansa goes on a journey to prove that he is Mwansa the Great.

Australia Dir Mirene Igwabi 2016 15 min
In the face of an African family tradition imposed on her in Australia, fourteen-year-old Adele is torn between high school and the home where she is a wife in an arranged marriage, and a mother-to-be.

For Akheem (12A*)

Sat 17 Mar 4.15pm, Cinema 2

USA 2017 Dir Landon Van Soest & Jeremy S.Levine 98mins

Filmed at a time of political upheaval in the state of St Louis, Missouri, For Akheem chronicles the life of seventeen-year-old Daje Shelton as her personal experiences take place against the background of the wider social context. Award-winning directors Landon van Soest and Jeremy S. Levine raise important questions regarding social inequality in the USA.

Summer 1993 (12A*)

Sat 17 Mar 6.15pm, Cinema 2

Spain 2017 Dir Carla Simón 97 min

Carla Simón’s powerful debut feature is an autobiographical and intimate exploration of childhood grief, dramatizing the director’s experience, at the age of six, of her mother’s sudden AIDS-related death in 1990s Spain. Forced to move in with her uncle’s family, vulnerable and feisty young girl Frida (Laia Artigas) slowly and reluctantly assimilates into her new family.

Shorts Lounge (15*)

Sun 18 Mar 12noon, Cinema 2


Chronic Youth is a film festival that celebrates young protagonists on screen. The Young Programmers have decided to extend this to filmmakers and present a series of short films directed by under-25s telling stories about Britain today. This free event gives audiences the opportunity to see these exciting debut films and discuss them with the directors – from cinematic inspirations to ideas for the future.

The programme includes:

Guy’s Girl

Dir Leah Rustomjee/Tali Ramsey 7.25

The film explores how female DJs are represented in London’s predominantly male music scene.


Dir Gaurang Sharma 7.52

A light-hearted story focusing on the theme of diversity, the film follows Shawn as he goes to a barbershop to get a haircut.

Ego / Tia

Dir Rebecca Phillips 4.55

A snapshot of Tia, a photographer, through an interview in her bedroom and experimental film interludes.

Empty Hands

Dir Helena Morais 8.34

As a family deals with the learning difficulties of its youngest member, a teenage girl learns how to communicate with him using karate.

Wispa Sweet Nothing

Dir Rozine Jahfar 2.49

A parody of romantic movie cliches plays with an iconic track to ironic effect.

A Brave New World

Dir Lynda Boudjeltia 9.40

An intrepid Presenter enters hyper-stylized cyberspace to interview Derp, a constructed character derived from interviews with real-life hackers.

The First Time I Ever Saw His Face

Dir Jack Deslandes 1.27

A young man sketches a portrait as he tells the story of the first time he saw the man who he would come to love.

Destination Deptford

Dir Olivia Douglass 14.20

An exploration of the social and cultural identity of the South London borough, accompanied by the poetry of Arjunan Manuelpillai.

Romeo & Juliet

Dir Frankie Thompson 7.48

A silent-movie adaptation of the story of Romeo and Juliet as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl.

The Hidden Tiger (15*)

Sun 18 Mar 2pm, Cinema 2

Brazil 2014 Dir Affonso Uchoa 94 min

The UK premiere of the debut by Affonso Uchoa – one of Brazil’s most incendiary new voices, who later directed award-winning drama Araby. This docu-fiction draws attention to the harsh realities of the young inhabitants of Uchoa’s own Cotagem neighbourhood in Brazil.

Shapeshifters (12A*) + Q&A with Sophie Vuković

Sun 18 Mar 4.10pm, Cinema 2

Sweden 2017 Dir Sophie Vuković 85 min

The UK premiere of Sophie Vuković’s dreamlike documentary uses archive footage to capture the complexities of having an unfixed identity in a globalised world. From Yugoslavia to Australia to Sweden, the film charts the director’s journey of self-reflection after a chance encounter with an old friend.

A Child in the Crowd + The Mischief Makers (15*)

Sun 18 Mar 6.30pm, Cinema 2

France 1976 Dir Gérard Blain 85 min 35 mm

France 1957 Dir François Truffaut 23 min

Closing the festival is a double bill of French movies depicting growing up with all its emotions, joyous or tragic.

Presented in a rare 35mm screening, A Child in the Crowd is the most acclaimed film from radical writer-director Gérard Blain — an autobiographical portrait of his youth during the German occupation of Paris. An underground favourite, the film retraces the social conditioning of a young man, and the loss of innocence inherent in learning how to survive an indifferent world, chronicling a child’s profound loneliness and manifest need to be loved.

Starring Gérard Blain as an actor, and French screen star Bernadette Lafont, The Mischief Makers is a nostalgic remembrance of childhood and the first short film by the later celebrated New Wave director François Truffaut.

News Editor

Author: News Editor

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