Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) Access, the talent development division for under-represented creatives, has announced Donell Atkinson-Johnson, Lauren Gee and Joladé Olusanya as the three filmmakers who will tell their stories of what is means to be Black and British as part of the next Black Britain Unspoken.

Launched in 2022, Black Britain Unspoken aims to give opportunity and voice to Black British filmmakers breaking into the industry.

Black Britain Unspoken provides filmmakers a pitch-to-production experience and, via programme partner Media Trust, professional development opportunities through tailored workshops that focus on media training and career progression.

For season three, Wall to Wall, part of Warner Bros. International Television Production, has joined the programme as production partner alongside Bounce Cinema, who partnered with Black Britain Unspoken in 2023, who will continue its support through mentoring, training, and as the premiere event partner.

The three short films Lloyd the Instructor by Donell Atkinson-Johnson, Dancing on Road by Lauren Gee and mandem by Joladé Olusanya, were selected from over 300 applicants and a successful pitch process to a judging panel featuring award-winning Director and Producer Liana Stewart.

 

Lloyd the Instructor – Directed by Donell Atkinson-Johnson

Lloyd is a father, a first generation Jamaican and an eccentric driving instructor. In his laid-back style, he imparts his years of wisdom onto the south London youth as he teaches them the basics of driving. Like a Jamaican Mr. Miyagi or Pai Mei, he uses metaphors to get his students to grasp the meaning behind their actions. We follow Dylan, the last of four brothers to learn with Lloyd, in his early lessons as he gains competency behind the wheel from a total beginner stage. Spaces wherein Black men are offered the chance to be vulnerable and risk failure without judgement can be far and few between, but the liminal space of the car creates an environment wherein these intimate moments can flourish.

Dancing on Road – Directed by Lauren Gee

Dancing on Road documents and celebrates the Black British female roller-skating community, showcasing its long history and fixture within popular culture. Blurring the boundaries between documentary and music video, this experimental film reveals the expansive network of London’s Black skate scene through two key individuals that share their stories and delve into what this space and their skate crews and mentors provide them. This joyous exploration gives visibility to a subculture that to many outsiders is unknown but is made familiar through its nostalgic lens which pays homage to the sports DIY and music-led roots.

mandem – Directed Joladé Olusanya

mandem is an evocative docu-film inspired by the late poet Gboyega Odubanjo and a poem written by director Joladé Olusanya in response to Odubanjo’s work. This film explores the perceptions of the ‘mandem,’ portraying their deep and cultural significance within the Black British community and beyond. Intentionally set in the environment of a traditional university lecture hall, mandem blends poetic verse with intimate interviews and personal stories, exploring the term through diverse perspectives across gender, belief systems and professional backgrounds. Joladé’s poem serves as the skeleton of the film, guiding its narrative and thematic structure. By challenging stereotypes and celebrating the collective resilience and diverse identities of the mandem, this film offers a powerful and educational ode to a community often misunderstood and to Gboyega Odubanjo who proudly represented them on page and in life.

Asif Sadiq MBE, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Warner Bros. Discovery said, “We are proud of the impact and success of Black Britain Unspoken. Entering our third series means we’re able to further build our exceptional Black Britain Unspoken cohort, bringing us to nine incredibly talented Directors and creating a Black Britain Unspoken family that continues to collaborate with WBD. Donell Atkinson-Johnson, Lauren Gee and Joladé Olusanya each offer a distinctive perspective in their stories – and we can’t wait to see the Black Britain Unspoken S3 shorts come to life across WBD platforms.

“Working with our partners Media Trust, Wall to Wall and Bounce Cinema allows us to champion emerging and underrepresented talent breaking into the industry. It is through this collaboration that we’re able to not only improve access and opportunity but deliver best-in-class training, mentoring and experiences.”

The 2024 selected films will launch on discovery+ in October as part of WBD’s Black History Month celebrations in the UK.

Jon Creamer

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