Arts& Culture: The British Urban Film Festival 2011

The Pond

As London gets ready for Fashion Week, another creative outlet is about to hit the city, showcasing the talent and imagination of Britain’s urban filmmakers. This will be the sixth year of the British Urban Film Festival and includes UK premiers of films including the award-winning David is Dying and Drink, Drugs and KFC, which is the directorial debut of Kidulthood’s Aml Ameen. The festival will also screen the moving Damilola: Death of a 10 Year Old, which features the first interview with Richard Taylor, who’s son was tragically killed by a gang in Peckham.

With politicians preaching against the sickness in our society and condemning rather than understanding street culture, there could not be a better time to show the innovation and talent in British urban culture. Maybe these interesting and diverse films will show that we need to promote creativity in our young people and invest in the future of British film making rather than cut the few drama programs and creative outlets we have. We caught up with the festival director Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe to find out more.

David is Dying

OhDearism:  How did the British Urban Film Festival come about?
Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe: It was a case of being at the right place at the right time – The Prince’s Trust Urban Music Festival and having one of those Eureka moments where I could see the path open in front of me. From that day on, all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into BUFF have been constant leaps of faith. Consequently, BUFF has become my Frankenstein.

OD: How important is it for you to inspire the next generation of urban film-makers?
EAO: The British Urban Film Festival is an annual showcase that encourages the nation’s filmmakers to get their stories told, defining their own reality in an ever-changing world. The onus is on the filmmaker to set the agenda and not the festival. Other filmmakers can then see how high the bars are being raised and this in turn will inspire them. If that process stops, the festival cannot function.

OD: What was the selection process to this year’s films?
EAO: 20 films were eventually shortlisted by the BUFF board members. 16 were chosen as festival screenings with the remaining 4 chosen as streams on the festival website. In addition to its’ annual call for submissions, of which there’s an entry fee, members of the board recommend potential titles which are then headhunted.

OD: There are lots of different themes to this year’s films from gang violence to romance, how do you strike the right balance?
EAO: Striking the right balance is all down to a method that I refer to as MKOM (my kind of movie). It doesn’t matter how political or how politically correct the films are, film selection has always been an acquired taste and it will remain so. As far as this year’s programme is concerned, the documentaries about Tupac and Damilola focus on first hand real-life accounts of the sad events which led to the deaths of two young black men. Drink, Drugs & KFC is a coming of age film which deals with peer pressure and friendship and doesn’t set out to glamourise gang violence compared to other more notable examples. The themes explored in our romantic selections (Special Delivery, Its a Serendipitous Thing, Holler, David is Dying) deal with the utopia and the harsh realities that are part and parcel of human relationships.

The British Urban Film Festival 2011 is on the 16TH – 17TH – 18TH SEPTEMBER 2011, Congress House 23-28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS. Book free tickets here>

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