Let’s talk Film Festivals
Sundance Film Festival is well under way. And this year – amongst the plethora of original independent films and documentaries, premiering at Sundance, showcasing new voices in independent cinema – are a number of films and documentaries created by and featuring men and women from BAME backgrounds.
One of the films I’m most excited for this year is Dope, a coming-of-age narrative from writer-director Rick Famuyiwa. In Dope, Shameik Moore plays Malcolm, a nerd barely surviving his rough Los Angeles neighborhood. Only a brief teaser has been released, but the nineties hip hop aesthetic, the Eraserhead Afros, a soundtrack featuring new music from Pharrell Williams and a cast including Divergent and X-Men First Class actress Zoe Kravitz, model, Chanel Iman, The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori and Workaholics star Blake Anderson has already garnered positive buzz from critics and audiences. After Dope, I have hope for documentaries What Happened, Nina Simone? Fresh Dressed (a chronicle of hip-hop fashion) and post-apocalyptic drama, Z for Zechariah (starring British actor Chiwetel Ejifor).
After three years of showcasing new and independent cinema to the British public, Sundance London has now closed, but there are other British film festivals focused on the promotion of up and coming independent filmmakers – some festivals even exclusively focused on raising the profiles of independent filmmakers from Black and minority backgrounds in Britain.
The aim of Screen Our Unseen Lives (S.O.U.L), for example, is to provide a platform for BAME filmmakers with S.O.U.L even hosting events like Celebrate: Connect, a networking and screening event featuring the work of Black and Ethnic minority filmmakers from Britain.
Likewise, the British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) has helped promote the urban genre with its annual festival. Now in its tenth year, the British Urban Film Festival has not only built the profile of urban film, but has also showcased the talents of up and coming British filmmakers, some of whom come from minority backgrounds.
These films festivals may not have the profile of festivals like Sundance or London’s very own LFF. They may not lead to the global distribution or Academy Awards (not yet, anyway), but they provide brilliant resources for young British filmmakers from minority backgrounds to get their work seen by large audiences. Both film festivals are open to submissions from the British public and, if your film screens who knows who will be watching. Spielberg? Probably not. Noel Clarke, maybe.