The Barbican’s Chronic Youth Festival Questions the Idea of Home

Two figures stand in the centre of the frame. One is wearing a red cowboy hat and black mesh top. The other is blowing a stream of fire to the right of the image. A young woman sits in the background, watching and videoing with her phone.

This year’s Chronic Youth Festival is exploring and challenging perspectives on home, hope and hostility. Programmed by the Barbican Young Programmers, the festival takes place between 12th-13th March, and contemplates the notion of home for those facing challenges both in the UK and around the world.

Rooted – a collection of short films about systematically disenfranchised communities from UK based filmmakers whose sense of home has been culturally and politically destabilised as a result of the recent ‘hostile environment’. This event will also feature a Q&A with the filmmakers and members of the Young Programmers team.

Ivan Herrera’s visually arresting Bantú Mama is the first feature film in the programme – an exploration of a different type of motherhood in the Afro-Dominican barrios of Santo Domingo, when Emma – a young woman who witnesses a drug deal – seeks shelter with three children. Paired with Mother is a short Brazilian documentary about the ballroom scene, at a time when it’s increasingly dangerous to be visibly queer.

The following day, road trip film Crossroads about the power of friendship in dealing with grief and experiences of abandonment plays, featuring early career performances of Britney Spears, Zoe Saldana and Taryn Manning.

The UK premiere of Mohamed El Aboudi’s documentary L’École de l’espoir centres on an isolated clay building, east of the Atlas Mountains, known as the ‘School of Hope’, providing a welcome, but challenging lifeline to its young nomadic students.

The festival closes with the debut film of writer-director, and star, Amalia Ulman. El Planeta is based off Ulman’s personal experiences as an Argentinian immigrant in Spain, and stars her mother Ale Ulman as her on-screen mother as the two women deal with the impact of the financial crash and the threat of eviction.

The Barbican Chronic Youth Festival runs from 12th-13th March at the Barbican in London. Tickets can be purchased through the Barbican website.

Rose is a film critic , who graduated from the University of Liverpool with an MRes in Film Studies. She loves thrillers, Al Pacino, and multilingual cinema and she’s not entirely sure if she’s a millennial.

Find her on twitter, and find more of her work at

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