• Tuesday, Sep. 22, 2020
London Film Fest to feature Taking Black Writers Seriously event
Shantelle Rochester
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The British Film Institute (BFI) has joined with Black female-owned film production company Ida Rose, and The Young Vic Theatre, led by Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, to present Taking Black Writers Seriously , a showcase and pitching event that will take place as part of the London Film Festival (LFF) on Oct. 16. For the BFI, this initiative is led by Neil Peplow, director of international affairs, and Iyare Igiehon, Inclusion Partnerships and Events executive.

Black novelists, television screenwriters, and emerging writers will pitch stories to an audience of television drama commissioning editors, film and TV drama producers, and Black-led film and drama production companies in order to elevate pipeline projects, scripts, and novels that have strong potential for screen adaptation. Together, the event partners will support projects that reflect the diversity of Black people and their lives in Britain and around the world, rather than stereotypes. This event will also be filmed by Ida Rose for streaming on Sunday, October 18, as part of the LFF to press and industry delegates.

Ida Rose founder Shantelle Rochester said, “When we founded our company, it was to work on projects exactly like this one--gaining exposure for Black creators who are making the kinds of content we want to see in the world.”

This special collaboration will be led by theatre director, TV and film producer, Alby James OBE FRSA, who started working with Rochester when he was leader of the Diverse Directors’ Workshop at the National Film & Television School in 2017. James continues to demonstrate his commitment to helping transform the film and broadcasting industry into one that serves the needs and interests of all people, achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion for Black creatives and those of other under-represented ethnic backgrounds and women, people with disabilities and in marginalized regions of the country. This work has ranged from teaching people how to write, produce, and commission inclusive drama and films, to leading diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at various film and broadcasting institutions. He explained his reason for this promoting this program:

“It’s now clear to everyone that we have been overlooked, misunderstood and left out because of the thing we can’t change--the color of our skin--and, sometimes, our culture and lower-class backgrounds. BLM has made everyone realize it’s time to fill the spaces we should have filled by providing funding and opportunities for those with the talent and authentic voice of those left out.”

His long-time friendship with Kwei-Armah inspired the partnership with The Young Vic. “This is an important time in the history of our sector, a time when there can be no more excuses,” said Kwei-Armah, currently the artistic director at The Young Vic. “Let’s all do our bit and make sure that the talent meets the broadcasters and the broadcasters meet the talent. This is the time.”

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