The 2010 British Urban Film Festival – the review

At the time of going to press, a woman in China has sued a cinema and the distributors of the movie ‘Aftershock’ for wasting her time with adverts. According to the Xinhua news agency, Chen Xiaomei claims the Polybona International Cinema and film distributors Huayi Brothers Media Corporation should have told her of the length of the pre-movie commercials. Chen, a lawyer, accused the Xian-based picturehouse and the distributors of violating her freedom of choice and wasting her time. The claimant is seeking a full apology, a refund for her 35 yuan (£3.30) ticket, another 35 yuan in compensation plus one yuan for emotional damages. Had that been applied to BUFF (for which it could do on so many levels) those who were in attendance on the opening night of this year’s festival would’ve missed exclusive previews of ‘Tupac Assasination’ (approaching  the 15th anniversary since his death), ‘The O’ Twins’ (Nigeria’s answer to ‘The Simpsons’) and Manorlogz (Poetry’s answer to ‘The X Factor’) – and that was to name but 3. Add to that the 250-odd people who were amongst the acknowledgements thanking them for their support of BUFF over the past 5 years and one would be hard pushed to say that the pre-show was anything but enlightening.

Its safe to say that the British Urban Film Festival 2010 ticked a lot of boxes for a lot of people and yes, there was a fair bit of box-ticking during the festival. And though the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson was formally invited, the festival didn’t quite tick ‘Bojo’s’ box. Overall, the festival continues to reach new audiences young and old, far and wide, online, on-air and in person – a mantra taken to its logical extension with the advent of the festival sponsors’ Gabriel Media World Television (otherwise known as GMWTV) – not to be mistaken with the now defunct GMTV – though it was a new beginning or ‘a new dawn’ as actor Ralph Brown puts it so vividly in the festival’s opening feature film – ‘Sus’.

A veritable array of actors and filmmakers duly converged at the 3 festival venues over the course of the weekend, stretching into the Monday. In addition to the aforementioned Ralph Brown (and his suitably dapper hat), BUFF was graced with the presence of the debonair Wil Johnson, the delightful Clint Dyer, the dashing Anjela Lauren Smith, not forgetting the commander in chief, Lateef Lovejoy and the impressive list of filmmakers who took part in some fascinating question and answer sessions.

Since we’re on the theme of all things dapper and the like, there was talk that Dappy, Fazer and Tulisa otherwise known as the group N-Dubz would be gracing the festival with their appearance – which would’ve made for an interesting contrast to the final day’s UK premiere of the documentary ‘N-Dubz – the way we were’ i.e. the way they were, aged 14. Directed by Jessie Grace Mellor, this marked the first time a filmmaker has had their film chosen for selection twice in the 5 year history of BUFF. The first time around, ‘our Jessie’ brought ‘Billy Blaze’ to the public’s attention. Not only will you find Billy Blaze knocking around on Youtube but you’ll also find a fair few of this year’s ‘chosen few’ for the festival online aswell. Not for the first time, the likes of Youtube and Vimeo (with its obvious attractions) are becoming an outlet for filmmakers to not only showcase their talent to the public, but to monetise their content also. This will become the battleground in the next few years, given that the UK film industry is now in a perpetual state of hiatus with the abolition of the UK Film Council. It will also be a challenge for festivals like BUFF who although offer free tickets for all its’ screenings will have to offer value for money so to speak when it comes to putting on premium content – fortunately the festival was able to secure 2 exclusives this year.

BUFF is already in co-production on a number of films working with the likes of Islington Council and 4front Films – and submissions are already coming in for BUFF 2011 and we’re not yet in October. The future’s bright…

And whilst we’re on the subject of submissions, BUFF Shorts UK brought together some of the UK’s finest filmmaking talent on the middle day of this year’s festival with 4 of the directors taking part in the question and answer session. It made for some electric banter with the audience certainly getting their money’s worth (so to speak) getting to know a little bit about what makes these half-psychotic… ok quarter-psychotic… individuals tick, the subjects in question being Rohan Green (dir. Physical Education), still living off the trappings of his Best of Boroughs audience award earlier this year, from Oxford (via an overnight stay at BUFF’s expense) the charismatic David Trumble (dir. The Shift), and then completing the line-up the gracious Tarun Thind (Dir. English) and the talented rookie, Mawaan Rizwan (dir. Paperboy). Also present were Casserley Cielo, writer and star of Je Suis Naive Tu Es Cruel plus Kamran Assadi and Randy J Lewis (directors from this year’s festival sponsor online screenings ‘Stalker’ and ‘Magical Michael’ respectively).

Other festival highlights included the closing movie Bad Day (dir. Ian David Diaz) with lead actress Claire Goose shooting everyone that got on her wrong side (the phrase ‘hell hath no fury than a woman scorned’ couldn’t be more apt). BUFF was also graced with Floetic Lara’s poetic tribute to actor Gary Coleman and recording artists Sugar Mynott and Guru – all of whom passed away earlier this year.

Over the course of the last 5 years, the British Urban Film Festival has been brought to audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Cricklewood Broadway, Stratford Picture House, Tottenham, Mile End, Redbridge, Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Waterloo… and still counting. In the immediate future, the festival will be going on tour, across the country, presenting audiences the very best in British Urban Film. Watch this space as they say to find out when BUFF will be coming to a cinema near you. The festival season is now in full swing with British cinema shouting from the rooftops not just at BUFF but also at the Toronto Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, the Portobello Film Festival, UrbanWorld, Raindance and of course the London Film Festival. And with so much on offer (and more besides), one would be mistaken for thinking that the British film industry isn’t in such a bad state after all – it is in a bad state compared with other countries. BUFF has already started to sing for its supper with a number of pre-release deals on the verge of being tied up with several filmmakers. The film submissions continue to pour in and the countdown has already begun to the BAFTAS, the Golden Globes and the OSCARS and then before you know it the British Urban Film Festival 2011 will be upon us – what price the movie ‘Sus’ picking up one of those coveted awards? Long may the passion continue…

For full details of BUFF on Tour or for how to submit your films to BUFF 2011 visit our spanking new buff website – www.britishurbanfilmfestival.co.uk

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