The film industry is an ever-changing hot plate of new emerging talent, old constraints, mixed with frustration, unheard stories and archaic establishments which can at times ostracised Ethnic, Urban or Diverse audiences from participating, either as a spectator or a film maker. We speak to Nigerian entrepreneur and visionary, Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe, the Founder of B.U.F.F – British Urban Film Festival which showcases UK, European, African premieres from independent and mainstream production houses, who is now marking his 10th successful year as festival director.
Pride: What is B.U.F.F and why did you start this venture 10 years ago?
BUFF was launched during the era of the state-subsidised UK Film Council and Black Filmmaker Magazine, the first publication of its’ kind in the UK dedicated towards showcasing black film and black filmmakers in the UK and across the globe. BUFF took an opportunist approach to create a platform, which guaranteed that filmmakers from culturally diverse backgrounds would get their stories heard and showcased prominently and consistently. 10 years on, both the UK Film Council and Black Filmmaker Magazine no longer exist which makes our work even more relevant in the current climate of ongoing issues which the film and TV industries are facing in the western world.
Pride: Why is B.U.F.F still important after a decade, when competitors like Sundance UK have closed shop and seemed to ignore independent talent?
BUFF is an inclusive festival, meaning that we embrace independent talent not just from the UK but all over the world. After 10 years, we remain visible, credible and responsible, putting filmmakers first and catering for all those who generally feel that they’ve been culturally ostracized as a creative or through the stories that they choose to bring to screen.
Pride: The word ‘urban’ has so many mixed connotations, what does it mean from your brand’s vision?
In an ever-changing world, it should be of some comfort to filmmakers, scriptwriters and audiences that we welcome their perception of what the mainstream decree the word urban to be – widely acknowledged as a catch-all term to group a mass of black people in certain environments.
We’re very clear when we explain to creatives and storytellers that the word ‘urban’ is whatever they perceive the word to be and that it should be demonstrated on-screen and off-screen. Our job is to ensure that those stories are brought to public attention on the biggest stage possible.
Pride: At this milestone, what new and exciting things can we look forward to from B.U.F.F in 2015?
In 2015 we’ve already screened the civil rights drama Selma and were the first film festival in the UK to do so. We’ve got some more international premieres planned throughout the year including a number of TV premieres. We have our annual British Urban Film Festival supported by Channel 4 (coming in September) and – for the first time ever – we will be hosting our very own BUFF Awards Ceremony in London’s West End.
Pride: Internationally, the film industry is very diverse and progressive, would you welcome films or collaborative projects with African filmmakers abroad and how can one make contact with your organisation?
Having launched our BUFF Africa Season in December 2014 we look forward to embracing more films and filmmakers of African origin whether it be through the annual film festival in September or the next BUFF Africa Season… in Africa. The best way to contact us is via our website (www.britishurbanfilmfestival.co.uk) or on Twitter (@buffenterprises)
Buff Board (L to R) : Bernard Kordieh, Kate Herron, Aml Ameen, Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe, Dr Clare Eluka & Ross Bispham.
Interviewed by Pride Mag NG columnist, Dr Clare Eluka.