Handsworth Songs is a 1986 film directed by John Akomfrah and produced by Lina Gopaul. It was filmed during the 1985 riots in Handsworth and London. The production company was the Black Audio Film Collective, who also wrote the screenplay. With cinematography by Sebastian Shah and music by Trevor Mathison, there were voice-overs by Pervais Khan, Meera Syal, Yvonne Weekes, Sachkhand Nanak Dham and Mr. McClean.
Handsworth Songs was commissioned by Channel 4 for their series Britain: The Lie of the Land and won seven prizes internationally, including the John Grierson Award for Best Documentary (BFI). The production company used their now renowned methods of intermixing newsreel, still photos and a sound mosaic, creating an experimental multi-layered narrative. It gives accounts of those involved in or observing the 1985 riots and more significantly their personal reflections.
Viewers create their own interpretation of narrative through navigation of the multi-faceted material presented, which is a direct response to the fragmented presentation of the story of the riots. Ann Ogidi, the author, sees it as a journey as if wandering through an art gallery with images of the 1950s.
In 1983 the Black Audio Film Collective came together to encourage a Black film culture within film and video, specifically looking at questions of Black representation, including colonial imagery and anti-racist/sexist film material. Their work includes Signs of Empire (1989), Images of Nationality and Handsworth Songs (1986).