June Givanni, an influential figure in African film curation, writing, and programming, is set to be honored with Bafta’s outstanding British contribution to cinema award. As the founder of the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive (JGPACA) in London, Givanni has compiled an extensive collection of over 10,000 items, preserving the rich legacy of Pan-African cinema for over four decades.
This remarkable archive, operated by volunteers, stands as one of the globe’s most significant collections dedicated to African film and its diaspora. It includes a vast array of films, manuscripts, audio recordings, photographs, and posters, many of which might have been lost without Givanni’s efforts.
The JGPACA has not only safeguarded these cultural treasures but has also used them to create impactful public exhibitions, such as the recent display at Raven Row in East London.
At 73, Givanni expresses her gratitude for the Bafta award, seeing it as an opportunity to enhance public understanding of Pan-African cinema’s cultural and creative significance globally. Born in British Guiana, she moved to the UK at age seven and began her career by bringing the Third Eye London’s first Festival of Third World Cinema to the city. She then served as a film programmer at the Greater London Council’s ethnic minorities unit.
Givanni’s influential career includes managing the BFI’s African-Caribbean unit, compiling the first comprehensive directory of black and Asian films in the UK, co-editing the BFI’s Black Film Bulletin, and curating films across five continents. Her publications, such as “Remote Control: Dilemmas of Black Intervention in British Film and TV” and “Symbolic Narratives/African Cinema,” have contributed significantly to the discourse on African cinema.
Jane Millichip, CEO of Bafta, praises Givanni as a trailblazer in the preservation and celebration of African and African diaspora cinema, as well as Black British cultural heritage.
Givanni will receive her special award during the upcoming Bafta ceremony. She joins a distinguished list of past recipients, including Derek Jarman, Ken Loach, and Ridley Scott.
Emphasizing the cultural and educational richness of archives, Givanni reflects on the impact of her work, especially among younger generations. She highlights the importance of understanding history to grasp the future, drawing on the Ghanaian concept of Sankofa. Givanni passionately believes in Pan-African cinema as a “cinema of resistance,” recognizing the value and importance of African culture and its contribution to the world.
Through her pioneering work, Givanni has played a crucial role in showcasing the significance of Pan-African cinema and its ability to challenge perceptions and broaden understanding across the globe.