Women of the Lens

The Women of the Lens Film Festival takes over London’s Rich Mix cinema this April for two consecutive Saturdays of screenings. The event was originally set up in 2017 by Jennifer G. Robinson, who previously worked at the Black Filmmaker International Film Festival, to respond to the lack of representation of Black women both behind and in front of the camera. To use the festival’s tagline, the mission is about “empowering through knowledge and celebration”, with the hope of engaging with the wider and local community, nurturing talent and contributing to a wider discourse around diversity, industry and education. This year’s programme is divided into innovative themes, including Sankofa Women, The Future’s Here and The Strength of Acceptance.

Amongst this year’s films is Blue Corridor 15 by Dubheasa Lanipekun, which you can also stream in the ASFF film library. Playing in the Sankofa Women / Roll Call strand on April 23, this short stars Thalia Gambe as Elizabeth, who begins styling her classmate’s hair when times get tough at home. “I need the dollar,” she says, when she starts charging her friends – but when one girl complains about the braids she’s been given, tensions simmer. A beautiful film about youthful friendship – and the strains we all face.

Also playing is Asunder by Janet Marrett, whose social drama Clearing played at ASFF in 2020. Featuring in the Documenting Justice strand, which is dedicated to exploring the judicial system through the eyes of migratory workers amd immigrants, Mattett’s Asunder focuses on Olivia (Kemi Awoderu), who finds herself in an intense battle with the government as they attempt to criminalise her mother.

Sci-fi fans can enjoy two films in The Future’s Here programme. Control, directed by Erica Miller, centres around the CSORO project – a scheme designed to place celebrated scientists on other planets. When I, meanwhile, follows Adara, who gets a chance to view her future in the blink of an eye. Actor-Director Elishah St Juste, who was inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdowns in the writing of the film, will also be on hand for a Q&A afterwards.

On the documentary front, don’t miss the Advertising Race strand, with the 57-minute long Black Creative – questioning what it’s like to be Black in the predominantly white UK advertising industry. Experiences of diversity and representation are shared, highlighting why the industry needs to change. Director Meena Ayittey will join the screening for a Q&A.

Women of the Lens Film Festival takes place on 23 and 30 April at London’s Rich Mix Cinema. For more details, click here.

James Mottram