BFI, Diversity In Cannes reflect on Black women in film programme: “This has to happen again”

Melanie Hoyes, the head of inclusion at the British Film Institute (BFI), has described the first Cannes’ Celebrating Black Women in International Film programme as a “phenomenal” success, and has pledged to return with the same focus next year.

After an informal gathering last year, this year the BFI teamed with Yolonda Brinkley’s grassroots film equality movement Diversity In Cannes to launch a programme of events to build creative and financial partnerships.

Photo Credit: Jordan Pitt

This included bringing four Black female filmmakers – Yvonne Ibazebo, Nadine Marsh-Edwards, Kelley Robins Hicks and Shantelle Rochester – to Cannes to talk to potential partners about projects, participate in panel discussions, attend a networking lunch and join an intimate gathering with Banel & Adama filmmaker Ramata-Toulaye Sy, the second Black woman to have directed a film in Cannes Competition.

The British Blacklist and Time’s Up UK partnered on the programme.

The level of engagement from Black women across the world who have attended and contributed to our events proves what we knew in the first place – that there is a plethora of talented Black women filmmakers who deserve to be championed and seen,” said Hoyes.

We want to come back next year with the same focus. We are talking to Diversity in Cannes, Times Up UK and The British Blacklist to see how we can return in 2024, as we very much believe there is a need and a desire to maintain the space we’ve fostered here.

As only the second Black woman director selected in competition by the Cannes Film Festival in their 76-year history, this milestone is worthy of celebration and Diversity in Cannes is delighted to join forces with the BFI, the British Blacklist and Time’s Up UK to give Ramata her flowers now,” Brinkley noted.

Heather Rabbatts, chair of Times Up UK, said: “Time’s Up UK is delighted to be part of celebrating Black women filmmakers at Cannes this year. It underlined the amazing talent that all our Black filmmakers are bringing to this industry and the urgent need for greater recognition and support from financiers, distribution and our other partners. The various award ceremonies and Cannes film festival are essential moments in the film calendar to re-state the importance of diversity even if the backdrop is still unrepresentative.

This has to happen again,” added Akua Gyamfi, founder of the British Blacklist. “For me, this is only the beginning.”

SOURCE Screen International

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