40 Year Old British Reggae Drama Babylon To Have First US Release

Posted by at 2:51 pm on January 18, 2019

Nearly 40 years after it premiered in Cannes Critics’ Week, cult British reggae film Babylon will get its first US release through Kino Lorber Repertory and new boutique distributor Seventy-Seven.

Franco Rosso’s Thatcher-era drama about racial tension and police brutality stars Brinsley Forde, founder of British reggae band Aswad, as a dancehall DJ in south London who battles xenophobia, neighbours, police, and the National Front. The film was deemed so incendiary that after screenings on the Croisette and the Toronto International Film Festival, top brass at the New York Film Festival passed.

Quadrophenia scriptwriter Martin Stellman wrote the screenplay after the BBC passed on a stage version he had written with Rosso several years earlier. “There was absolutely nothing that was about the life of young Londoners,” said Stellman. “Absolutely nothing. We were operating in a complete vacuum.”

Gavrik Losey produced and managed to convince Chrysalis Records and Mamoun Hassan, then head of the National Film Finance Corporation, to back the project.

Kino Lorber Repertory and Seventy-Seven, founded by Gabriele Caroti, the former director of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s film program BAMcinématek, to focus on vintage, under-seen, and underappreciated content, have set a March 8 theatrical launch at BAM in New York. Babylon will expand nationwide on March 15, and launch on streaming, VOD, and home video after that. Kino Lorber president Richard Lorber and director of Repertory theatrical distribution and acquisitions Jonathan Hertzberg brokered the deal with AMBI.

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