The 2010 British Urban Film Festival – July Blog

If it feels like the frequency of buff blogs are being stepped up, the signs are that the festival is getting nearer. This year’s event marks the 5th annual gathering of filmmakers, the media and the general public to the British Urban Film Festival, now widely accepted as the first stop for urban films. As the late Michael Jackson quotes in one of his songs ‘it don’t matter if you’re black or white’, the festival acts as a tool to highlight, to showcase and to champion the growth of urban film, a relatively new genre which has become a staple diet for audiences since the late 90s. The diet seems to have bulged in the last 12 months with a whole host of films, filmmakers and film festivals, cashing in on the urban concept. The British Urban Film Festival was the 1st and remains the only film festival of its’ kind in the UK – passionate in its’ brief to deliver the best urban films free without charge. Happy birthday Buff, many happy returns.

The rumours were in the air as far back as January and after many off the record conversations it has been put on record that the Black Filmmaker Magazine International Film Festival (BFM) has announced that it has cancelled this year’s event, citing “lack of financial resources.” Many of the people who work on Buff first cut their teeth at BFM which can rightly take the credit for launching the careers of hundreds of filmmakers, screenwriters, actors, actresses, producers, directors and certain film festival directors… 

They are not the only festival to cancel 2010 festivities – Kush Films (whilst not having cancelled any festivities for 2010) seem intent on leaving the scene in 2011, thanks in no part to the disillusionment with the way the industry is run. No doubt the global economic crunch will have made its mark on matters also. Colourful Radio’s resident film buff Emerson Forde makes the observation that certain sectors of the business & film community are all but ambivalent to the Black community as a whole. Add to that ‘a new government who are highly unlikely to be funding this type of project’.

The man behind BFM and distinguished filmmaker himself, Menelik Shabazz echoes these thoughts in a statement released by BFM last month: “As the founder of the festival I am naturally disappointed that we are not able to continue as we have worked hard over the years to keep the Festival going with only token support from the UK film industry. Year after year we have relied heavily on tremendous volunteer support, to keep the festival going, which is ultimately not sustainable.”

“…The BFM International Film Festival was created out with a vision of ‘bringing the unseen to light’ and this is our legacy. I hope that this is not the end and that a way will be found to keep the festival alive in the future…”

From one departure to another and the world cup has come and gone and African football was firmly in the spotlight thanks in no small part to the exploits of the ‘Black Stars’ who look set to dominate the sport in Africa for at least a decade. There was a time when Nigeria held that mantle. The years 1994 through to 1996 saw Nigeria qualify for the world cup, become champions of Africa and Olympic champions. Kanu was an instrumental and inspiring figure at the heart of all things successful with the ‘Super Eagles’. His substitution against South Korea on June 22nd 2010 signalled the end of a long and distinguished career for Africa’s most decorated sportsman. Kanu’s personal story is the stuff of legends and many attempts (including one by Buff no less) have been made to bring the lionheart’s highs and lows to the big screen – its’ not as if Kanu hasn’t got any spare time on his hands – watch this space as they say…

The last time Buff met Kanu in person was at Brentford FC when Nigeria were trounced 4-1 by Ghana in a friendly. At the time, one did feel that there was a changing of the guard after the events of that night – the events of the last 5 weeks have shown that Ghana can only get better whilst for Nigeria it can’t get any worse than getting expelled by FIFA after attempts by the president to get its’ house in order – by withdrawing from all international tournaments.

The next time the buff blog is published, the line-up of films will be revealed for this year’s festival which Buff can reveal will be hosted by the stand-up comedian and actor Lateef Lovejoy. Over the next few weeks GM World TV (part of Gabriel Media International) will be screening exclusive online coverage of the festival featuring news, interviews and official previews. Buff is delighted to team up with one of the most dynamic PR agencies in the business to bring you unrivalled coverage of the buffest film event of the year. Its’ already been announced that Sus starring Clint Dyer will be the opening feature film for this year’s event. One would presume that the deadline for submissions is fast approaching – in which case here is a last reminder that a DVD screener, EPK, plus a non-refundable entry fee of £25 is applicable to film-makers and film-making institutions wishing to submit a short film, documentary or feature-length movie. All cheques are to be made payable to ‘Buff Enterprises Ltd’. Please send all materials plus a cover letter to: British Urban Film Festival 2010, Buff Enterprises c/o 4 front Films, 27 Ithica House, Romford Road, London E15 4LJ. More details can be found at www.britishurbanfilmfestival.co.uk – submissions close midnight, Sunday July 25.     

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