The British Urban Film festival known as BUFF has fostered and championed talent from all facets of diversity since inception in 2005. 45% of the advisory board are women and of that percentage, 80% are ethnically diverse. The festival director is a women of colour and this has created a balanced approach to the festival selections, when ensuring that all voices are heard on screen.

This year, the influx of female filmmakers taking on roles both on and off screen shows the breadth and depth of female-led productions, script writers and directors to readdress the scarce amount of roles available to women in film.

Irish director, Jo Southwell directs DEIDRE – Deirdre of the Sorrows folklore is a fascinating coming-of-age drama exploring a darker Irish version of the Romeo and Juliet tale, with clan wars, passionate portrayals of emotions and the breathtaking backdrop of the Irish countryside in the 70’s.

Vicky Kisner, South African born, London-based filmmaker and winner of BUFF’s first Emerging Talent award for her film, SHEILA, directs THIS IS MY STORY. Chelsea (14) is impulsive. She finds it hard to concentrate and is easily distracted in class. She is referred to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Initially, Chelsea rejects anything is wrong with her but eventually realises help is at hand.

A beautifully executed romantic comedy, POTATO POTAHTO directed by Ghanian filmmaker Shirley Frimpong Manso explores a newly divorced couple who decide to share equal space in their ex-matrimonial home. They soon realise that the ingenious idea is easier said than done. Bent on flexing their egos and scoring points, the two implore various hilarious tactics that soon inflames emotions and turns an already complicated situation into a roller coaster ride.

BACK TO NATURAL, directed by New York City based Clinical Psychologist Gillian Scott-Ward is a 69-minute documentary film that reveals the shocking truth about hair politics, and racial identity in Black communities and beyond. The film was inspired by the work she was doing in her clinical practice and her own drive to go natural. “I struggled because I was encouraging young people of colour to live authentically despite the consequences yet I wasn’t living fully authentically myself,” she says. Gillian, like many Black women around the world had her hair chemically processed at the age of 8 because “that’s what’s done.”

STAY WOKE: The Black Lives Matter Movement is an American television documentary film directed by Laurens Grant, addresses the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.The phrase “stay woke” refers to an continuing awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice and came to widespread use as a result of Black Lives Matter.

South African born Director/Producer/Writer Palesa Lebona aims to provoke thought and drive dialogue about human issues that are ignored and overlooked. As a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking (Honours) with a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and a Post-Graduate in Logistics, she aims to transform the landscape of Film and Media in Africa into one which tells its own stories and is profitable. Her film, CREAM – set in the 1960’s period exposes the sorrowful tale of little dark-skinned girl, torn between her own personal identity and seeking the love and affection from her grandmother. Taking place in Oakland, the day after Martin Luther King’s death centred around the twisted, brutal relationship between a grandmother and her grand daughter;and how it unfolds when her runaway sister who is part of the Black Panthers returns home, seeking refuge after having committed a heinous crime.

JOCELYN – co-directed by Jewish/ Jamaican, Rachel Wang. Co-Founder of Chocolate Films, Wang brings a legend to the screen : Dame Jocelyn Barrow who was knighted for her achievements in race relations. She was one of the founders of the Commission for Racial Equality, and here work has encompassed broadcast, healthcare and housing. She even persuaded the retailers of Oxford Street to let BAME people work  on the shop floor as opposed to the stock-room where they had previously been working.]

Also joining the festival for the first time, is a masterclass ‘Meet The agents’ taking place on Tuesday 12th September 1.30pm with a panel discussion including four prominent talent, literary and casting agents: Kim Vithana (Holby City), Nina Lee (agent to Isis Davis who has two nominations at BUFF Awards 2017), Sandra Thompson-Quartey (Founder of The Avenue) and Shakrya Dowling (Casting agent recently honoured by the Casting Directors Awards 2017). Topics covered will be colour blind casting and positive discrimination.

For more information, visit www.britishurbanfilmfestival.co.uk

Venue for all events: BT Tower, 45 Maple street, W1T 4JZ

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