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Burning an Illusion

Love story tracing the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher’s London.

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, emancipation and political awakening.

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’.

Special features

  • Filmed introduction with Menelik Shabazz.
  • Commentary with Menelik Shabazz, Cassie McFarlane and Victor Romero.
  • Short film: Blood Ah Goh Run (Menelik Shabazz, 1982).
  • Eight-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.

Product information

    • Certificate

      15

    • Colour

      Colour

    • Sound

      Sound

    • Running time

      101mins

    • Languages

      English

    • Subtitles

      English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles

    • Original aspect ratio

      1.66:1

    • DVD region

      • 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories

    • Blu-ray region

      • B - Includes most European and Middle-Eastern countries, all of Africa, Australia and New Zealand

    • Catalogue number

      BFIVD525

Buying options

Available to buy

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