Women Of The Lens Film Festival will be returning to London on Saturday 23 and Saturday 30 April, at Rich Mix cultural arts centre. The festival aims to celebrate the achievements of Black British women in the UK creative film industries.
Founded by Jennifer G. Robinson in 2017, the film festival was created due to the low representation of Black women in the UK film industries and works to highlight the complex and diverse lives of Black women through film.
The first festival was delivered at the historical Cinema Museum in south London five years ago. This year it will be shown at the cultural arts centre Rich Mix on Bethnal Green Road for the first time.
“By collaborating with Rich Mix, I’m hoping that it will entice local communities to understand the value that Rich Mix places in varied and wide programming such as ourselves. I want people within that locale to understand that there are different visions, that there are a wide variety of stories you can see in film, ” the festival’s founder Jennifer tells me. “It is a place where you can come and meet like-minded people, share information, share skills, and share opportunities.”
As well as celebrating and encouraging the visibility of Black women on camera, the film festival also aims to champion Black women in decision making roles in the industry. The aim is to engage the local community in a wider discourse around race, diversity, industry and education.
“Our films contain messages about identity. Who are we, within our immediate locale?” says Jennifer.
The 17 films are curated into seven different themes. ‘Sankofa Women’ looks at stories of migration, heritage, oral history and intergenerational legacy. ‘Roll Call’ explores ideas related to belonging, self-acceptance and resilience through the eyes of children and young people. The other themes vary greatly: from science fiction to love and communication to the criminal justice system. The main criteria for choosing the films, Jennifer tells me, is that the narratives are driven by the autonomy of women within them.
Due to the pandemic, the festival could not go ahead in November 2021, but Jennifer hopes to deliver the festival again at its usual time this November.