BFI, Diversity in Cannes Team to Celebrate Black Women Filmmakers

The BFI has teamed with Diversity in Cannes for the Celebrating Black Women in International Film initiative, a curated program of events and networking opportunities aiming to establish meaningful creative and financial partnerships while shining a spotlight on the underrepresentation of Black women in the film industry.

As part of this endeavor, a delegation of four U.K.-based Black female filmmakers, actively seeking partners for their current projects, will journey to the Cannes Film Festival to connect with their international peers. The filmmakers are Yvonne Ibazebo (“Rye Lane”), Nadine Marsh-Edwards (“Riches”), Kelley Robins Hicks (“Queen of Glory”) and Shantelle Rochester (“Stolen”).

The program encompasses two days, May 19, 20, and includes a Black Women’s Lunch, supported by The British Blacklist. A panel titled Demystifying Film Finance will bring together experts from the U.K. and international film funds to shed light on the intricacies of securing film financing. Heather Rabbatts from Times Up U.K. and Yolonda Brinkley from Diversity in Cannes will deliver speeches during a networking reception.

The highlight of the program will be an event titled Cannes you see us? – Creating Space and Celebrating Black Women in International Film, which aims to celebrate the accomplishments of pioneering Black women filmmakers and challenge the prevailing industry narratives. It will delve into the importance of authentic authorship, self-exploration and the contribution of diverse experiences to storytelling.

Melanie Hoyes, head of inclusion at the BFI, said: “We hope that the events, combined with our support for the UK filmmakers traveling to Cannes, offer a chance for international Black female filmmakers to develop creative pathways that serve their own voice and artistic practices, despite the existing barriers.”

Brinkley added:  “Black women directors have been grossly underrepresented and have gone unrecognized at the Cannes Film Festival since inception. In 76 years, there’s been only two in competition, Mati Diop in 2019 and Ramata-Toulaye Sy this year. While I celebrate and uplift Sy, the Cannes Film Festival still has work to do. However, I have zero interest in fighting the patriarchy, as you know what they say about old dogs and new tricks. Instead, I will use the Diversity in Cannes platform to honor global black women in film at the Cannes Film Festival, indefinitely, and I’m excited to partner with Melanie Hoyes and the BFI to amplify their voices.”

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