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INTERVIEW WITH NADIA DENTON

By Ricenpeas.com

Friday, November 6, 2009.

Nadia Denton the Director of BFM talks about the challenges facing black filmmakers in Britain, the importance of having a festival that celebrates black British talent and the new oportunities for film makers in the Caribbean.

Who are BFM and why is there a need for a festival that solely showcases the works of black-themed film?

Black Film Maker is the largest and longest running platform for Black World Cinema in the UK. We are now in our 11th year as a festival. There is a need for our activities because the experiences that we showcase are still largely marginalized by the mainstream press and comparable festivals. BFM, like many other similar niche festivals, attempts to offer a voice for the voiceless whether they be film-makers or the subjects of the films.

What does BFM offer film-makers that other festivals do not?

A personal touch. All of the film-makers who participate in our programme become a part of the extended BFM family. As a festival that has ethnicity at its forefront, we also seek to ‘make noise’ and represent the experiences of black film-makers where possible, so as to increase the opportunities available to them.

What types of hurdles do black film-makers face in Britain?

The film industry is a competitive business. This is particularly the case for independent film-makers. Black film-makers tend to find themselves marginalised because of their experience and often the subject matter that they want to put forward is not seen as being part of the mainstream. It is a challenge for them to balance their cultural integrity with what may be deemed acceptable by the establishment.

Aren't things getting better?

Yes, I am an optimist. Not only are there increased non-traditional methods for film-makers to distribute their work, such as through online platforms, but technological advances also mean that they can produce their work and self-distribute more cheaply than ever before. In the UK, there has been a growth in film festivals that also means that there are more opportunities for them to display their work in front of captive audiences.

Why are you here in Trinidad and what do you hope to achieve?

To wave the BFM banner at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, as well as promote the work of the participating film-makers. My hope is that, as a result of the exchange, film-makers will have a raised profile that will lead to commissions, co-production opportunities, and distribution.

TTIFF would like to launch itself as the premiere Caribbean film festival. Is there an audience for this type of festival in the Caribbean and what has been your opinion regarding this year’s festival?

Yes, all of the people whom I have spoken to in Trinidad, from taxi drivers to waitresses, have expressed an interest in seeing more independent films reflective of their experiences and interests. There is certainly an audience for the content of festivals such as TTFF, though a match between audience expectation and festival activity has to be carefully considered. Festivals such as TTFF need to pitch right down to the grass roots level as well as those with more refined tastes on all levels through the marketing, programming and venue locations.

What new films will you be showing at the BFM Festival and why should people come out and support the event?

We will be hosting premiers of Good Hair (Chris Rock), The Story of Lover’s Rock (Menelik Shabazz) and a whole host of other thought-provoking, cutting edge films. 70% of the films that we are screening have no distribution and are not accessible to UK audiences otherwise. People should attend because they will see films and have an experience that they won’t find at many other comparable festivals and events. The festival will also be showcasing the freshest of UK talent and giving an indication of what is to come where black British cinema is concerned.

BFM International Film Festival takes place from Saturday, November 6 – Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at the BFI Southbank, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Rich Mix and Shortwave Cinema.

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