Stephen Isaac-Wilson: The Movies That Made Me

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Stephen Isaac Wilson Ib Kamara Browns Fashion
Stephen Isaac Wilson for Browns Fashion’s A Family Affair, guest edited by Ib KamaraPhotography by Ib Kamara

The filmmaker – part of the latest edition of Browns Fashion’s A Family Affair, curated by stylist Ib Kamara to celebrate “future, community, beauty, and Blackness” – shares with AnOther six films which have inspired his practice

In April, British retailer Browns Fashion – which celebrates its 50th birthday this year – launched A Family Affair, a community-based project which invites guest editors to share the work of their chosen creative families. Spanning fashion, beauty, art, photography, film, music and more, previous editions have been curated by the British Fashion Council – who handed over to designers including Priya Ahluwalia, Stefan Cooke and Supriya Lele, among others – and poet and activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal. “Our community stands at the heart of all that we do,” says Browns of the project. “[We are a] business built on supporting the bonds that matter.”

The latest, and final, iteration sees Sierra Leone-born, London-based stylist Ib Kamara guest edit the project, highlighting the work of his close collaborators and friends, from Mischa Notcutt – co-founder of east London club night, PDA – to designer Gareth Wrighton, photographers Justin French and Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., hairstylist Virginie Moreira, and more. Of the accompanying photo essay – which sees Kamara both shoot and style members of his creative family, in a series of intimate portraits – he says he wanted to capture “future, community, beauty, and Blackness ... I wanted them to feel their most beautiful”.

“For us to progress as people we need community as with community we can start to understand each other better, we can love each other better and we can work to build each other up – that’s the family I am part of in London,” Kamara continues. “I am very happy to see a body of work come together that speaks to them individually – to be able to put this out into the world is beautiful. It’s the perfect time to showcase what beauty can be cultivated when we come together and work in an equal space, a space where the colour of our skin is not determined by our brilliance, a space where everyone feels equal and able to be part of a community.”

One member of that community is Stephen Isaac-Wilson, a London-based filmmaker whose emotive, provoking work – which often centres on race, sexuality and intimacy – has been shown at the Barbican, ICA, Tate and more. His recent film, Ajamu: Joyful Insurrection, explored the work and legacy of queer Black photographer and activist Ajamu X and his Black Pervert’s Network – a private sex party for Black and Asian men run by Ajamu in his Brixton flat in the 1990s – and was screened on Channel 4 as part of its Random Acts series. “[I hope it makes] people think about their own lives, and raise their standard for love, pleasure and friendship,” he told Another Man at the time.

As part of A Family Affair, Isaac-Wilson – who has previously collaborated with Kamara, notably on a film for Vogue Italia entitled SINEGAL – showcases a number of films that have influenced his work, from Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied to La Vie en Vogue, a look inside the UK voguing scene by James LeBon. “I think the future of film will centre characters and voices that can kind of show us and guide us through the unknown,” Isaac-Wilson says. “I think the events of this year have made people have a real shift in perspective, so I think film will have to continuously show and tell us something real. We don’t have a blueprint for going forwards so film has the opportunity to present us with new ideas, new visions, new ways of being that can hopefully influence the way we live our lives.” Here, Isaac-Wilson tells us more about each choice.

Tongues Untied, 1989

“This film serves as a visceral call to action and makes me think about the different ways we use our voices to communicate our ideas – 30 years on, it’s still as relevant as ever.”

Looking for Langston, 1989

“A meditative masterpiece that beautifully weaves the past and present. It serves as a reminder to be patient, continuously observe and not to overthink.”

Koyaanisqatsi, 1982

“Philip Glass scored the pensive Koyaanisqatsi, and it’s beautiful – no words are necessary. A film that perfectly illustrates the power of leaving some things unsaid.”

Black Orpheus, 1959

“A Greek tragedy retold through the prism of Black Brazilian sound, movement, joy and sex. The costume design in Black Orpheus draws us in and places us right in the heart of the favela. Every frame is a still; every artistic choice is intentional.”

Un Chant d’Amour, 1950

“A very primal film about desire and the power of the erotic: it’s a sensual reference showing that ideas of queerness should stimulate the mind, and not just the body.”

La Vie en Vogue, 1990

“A rare glimpse into the UK voguing scene in the 90s. Beautiful and important.”

Find out more about the project at As part of the retailer’s ongoing pledge to donate to Black Lives Matter, Kamara has nominated UK Black Pride as the charity of his choice for July.