Ben & Ara - Challenging Perceptions

BIFF held it's first out of festival screening this month at mac Birmingham. Because we get so many great films submitted and only have a finite programming window, we can't show everything, even when we love it - like the beautiful film, Ben & Ara.

Ben & Ara really caught the judges attention last year and was one of our finalist films.  So, we were super keen when we were able to finally have a live screening and discussion at mac Birmingham earlier this month. Thanks to ian Sergeant and the mac team - you were fabulous!

The film is a love story between fellow phd students.  She is black African muslim - a character rarely portrayed on the silver screen - and he is white and agnostic, or atheist-lite as he refers to it.

He is in an open relationship and she is getting pressure from her mother and elders to show some interest in an eligible bachelor who ticks all of the right boxes - professional, black, muslim, good family.

With references to Cameroonian and Calvinistic philosophy, there are discourses on the certainty of belief, choice vs pre-destination as well as attitudes to sex, love and relationships.  

The film captured the imagination of the diverse audience from all sorts of angles. Whilst the synopsis of the film immediately makes you think of stereotypes and labels, the story and direction made the audience focus on the humanity of the basic love story.  The will they, won't they and whether or not the film needed a happily ever after ending.

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