Rapman joins BFI’s National Archive

Rapman’s hit 3-part youtube series ‘Shiro’s Story’ has been acquired by BFI National Archive


ON THE eve of the release of the hotly anticipated Blue Story, BFI have announced the acquisition of viral sensation Shiro’s Story into the BFI National Archive. 

UK artist, filmmaker and Screen Star of Tomorrow ‘Rapman’, AKA Andrew Onwubolu, rose to prominence through his ground-breaking music and online short film trilogies. 

Set to Rapman’s original music and lyrics, Shiro’s Story, a captivating tale of love, loss and betrayal set amidst the streets of South London, stormed YouTube in 2018, to date amassing over 18 million online views in total.  

Narrated by Rapman and starring Jovian Wade and Percelle Ascott, Shiro’s Story features cameos from Ashley Walters as well as London rappers including Headie One, Not3s and the late artist Cadet.

The acquisition of Shiro’s Story into the BFI National Archive demonstrates the BFI’s continued commitment to building a dynamic and representative contemporary collection of fiction work that embraces a new generation of filmmaking innovators, as well as highlighting the importance of digital preservation to ensure that online films are fully preserved to inspire generations to come.

Work created digitally for online viewing is potentially some of the most vulnerable. The BFI National Archive’s role is to ensure that it is still safe and can be made accessible, not just for the next decade or so, but 200 years in the future. By actively bringing digitally created contemporary work like Shiro’s Story into the archive from different platforms, this significant acquisition also reflects the fast changing pace of new and emerging filmmaking in our multi-channel age and recognizes the incredible reach and audience impact achieved by the films.  

On the significance of bringing Shiro’s Story into the BFI National Archive, Rapman recently told Sight & Sound: “I hope that audiences of the future look at my work the way I look at films like West Side Story, exploring these big themes of loyalty, heartbreak and betrayal. I hope they also realise that Shiro’s Story was a game changer, not just for me as a filmmaker but also for what can be done.”

BFI Curator of Contemporary Fiction Will Massa adds: “The impact and success of Shiro’s Story is probably as much as any new or emerging filmmaker could hope for. It’s a brilliant example of how relationships are changing between filmmakers, their audiences and the wider industry. 

“This surge of energy from the bottom up is really invigorating and is opening up a conversation with a whole range of creative people who may have felt historically that the film industry was something of a closed shop. Acquiring this trilogy is an opportunity for the BFI National Archive to celebrate these new voices and establish a relationship with the next generation of filmmakers at a crucial moment in their careers.”

Rapman’s first feature, Blue Story, produced by DJ Films, Joi Productions and BBC Films is released by Paramount Pictures UK, in cinemas on 22 November. Last night (November 20) BFI Southbank hosted a special preview of Blue Story with Rapman in association with specialist film events company We Are Parable who brought the best of Peckham and Deptford to Southbank’s SE1.

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