The pressure was certainly on to ensure that the 10th Black International Film Festival put on a show befitting its long legacy. With submissions from as far afield as the US, Iraq, the Caribbean, Europe and of course the U.K., this year's festival goers were treated to a broad range of work from grassroots and experienced filmmakers. Live screenings opened at Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre with the toe-tapping documentary Nathan East: For The Record - the inclusion of documentaries being a first for BIFF. Short Film night evoked strong emotions through films including winner JUS SOLI, charting the Black British narrative through pivotal events such as The Windrush and the 1981 New Cross Fire, to local film, Cleos Choice, which tackled the hard hitting topic of domestic violence. Acoustic duo Prok and Georgia provided the perfect interlude for the evening. Not shying away from difficult subjects, the Festival were proud to present the Birmingham premiere screening of The Pass, by Ben Williams and Duncan Kenworthy - a modern, dark tale of closeted top-flight footballers. The festival closed with a ‘lively’ screening and rave reviews for winning feature film, Everything But A Man by Nnegest Likké, followed by an even livelier Q&A. Festival goers let their hair down and partied to the funky beats of Joseph Ross & The Sound.
EBONY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
“The impeccable, incomparable and iconic” actor Don Warrington MBE, who collected his award in person. He said: “It’s fantastic to receive a lifetime achievement award, but I’ve only just started – with your help and support I will just go on – we all will.”
WESTMORE EZEKIEL AWARD:
Actor Nonso Anozie, who spoke movingly of his struggle to become an actor. He said: “This is testimony to that black woman, left by her partner with £2 in the bank, who encouraged her young son to have a dream. This is testimony to those who say: ‘No, you’re not good enough.’ I have been told that, so this award proves that it just wasn’t true.”
Diane Parish, who plays Denise Fox in EastEnders and has played DC Eva Sharpe in The Bill. She said she was so proud to be picking up this MViSA on the award’s 10th anniversary night, when she had just marked her 10th year in EastEnders.
Adrian Lester OBE, who gave a recorded thank you due to work commitments elsewhere, said he wished he would be present with everyone in his home town of Birmingham. He said: “For me, Christmas has come early.”
BEST SHORT FILM:
Jus Soli. Award collected by Simon Jenkins of the Somebody Nobody directorial collective – the film focuses on the wasted lives of 13 British youths killed in the New Cross house fire in 1981.
BEST FESTIVAL FILM:
Everything But a Man. Award collected by director Nnegest Likke.
UK BEST MOVIE:
Brash Young Turks. Award collected by director Naeem Mahmood, with Melissa Latouche and Paul Chiedozie.
BEST FACTUAL PRODUCTION:
Extreme UK, BBC Three by Reggie Yates.
BEST BROADCAST JOURNALIST:
ITV’s Charlene White, who was not able to collect in person, but thanked everyone by a recorded message.
BEST TV PRESENTER:
Ade Adepitan, who collected his award in person for his part in BBC Two’s New York: America’s Busiest City.
BEST EMERGING TALENT:
Paul Chiedozie, who collected his award in person.
BEST TV DRAMA:
Undercover, BBC One.
BEST LONG RUNNING DRAMA:
Casualty, BBC One.
EastEnders, BBC One.
BETTER THAN Hollywood – that’s what the stars called it, as A-listers of colour flocked to Birmingham for the milestone 10th anniversary of the MViSAS – the Movie Video & Screen Awards on Saturday, Which took place on October 29. Maybe from now on television should take this ceremony more seriously as this ceremony is far better than those being broadcater on television at present and Birmingham is certainly taking the shine off London when it comes to recognising the talents of black people in the film and TV industry.It’s been a long time coming but the tide is beginning to turn as the MViSAs gain a national and international reputation, giving many overlooked black stars the red carpet treatment they deserve.As veteran actor Rudolph Walker, who is a patron of the event, said on opening the MViSA at the International Convention Centre:
“This event has steadily grown in recognising and honouring us – something that is often overlooked by the established organisations.“We must be applauded for our positive contribution in making our society a better place for all. We all need to work collectively and individually to support organiser Dean Alexander and his wonderful team to build and elevate this awards ceremony so that it attains the levels comparable with ceremonies on both sides of the Atlantic. And that Birmingham, England will be the place to celebrate this every year.” TV presenter Ade Adepitan, who won a bronze medal in basketball at the 2004 Paralympics, and scooped the MViSAs Best TV Presenter award, said: “At one time, the only faces I saw like mine on TV featured in Crimewatch. My message to every young kid out there is: ‘If I can make it, then so can you.’”
Director Dean Alexander said "As black people we already know what we do, but the world doesn’t see us as we really are – we have negative portrayals of our people. I spent last week trying engaging with TV stations about this event which has the biggest gathering of celebrities of any colour in this region, yet no-one seemed interested or could cover it. “This is why we need events like this – to focus on all the positive things that we do and more importantly we need our own industry and stop waiting for hand outs. "
October 23th – 28th October 2017, marks the week of the BIF Festival when guests will be welcomed to the beautiful city of Birmingham to celebrate the best of black, ethnic and International cinema. Featuring theatrical and independent releases from around the globe. This year's Festival will be another special event as we celebrate 10 years of film screenings, so we are looking for a dynamic team of special volunteers to make the Festival a remarkable experience for all our guests. Get involved, meet new people, and discover the latest in worldwide cinema and entertainment!