The premiere screening of the films took place at BFI Southbank in London last week, and the films are now entering the international short film circuit.
The winning films included OBA, directed by Femi Ladi, an Afrofuturist fictional short in which the King of the Yoruba Kingdom is found on a South London council estate; As For Me, directed by Guen Murroni, a British fictional short that challenges the mainstream negative portrayal of mental health; Where I Can See Them, directed by Lanre Malaolu, a British short exploring the emotional and psychological effects of police ‘stop and search’ on Black men; and Flee & Engulfed, directed by Chen Hui, a Chinese fictional short which explores whether the politics of sameness are leading us to destroy the concept of difference.
Differently Does It, which was created to mark BBH’s 40th birthday, launched last year in the UK, US, Shanghai, Singapore and Mumbai, with a theme of ‘Difference’. The four winners were selected in July with each receiving a budget of £20,000 to create four short films. In addition, they received a masterclass from a renowned director as well as creative guidance from BBH creative leaders to support the development of their vision.
“In the judging process we committed to selecting only the entries that truly pushed us out of our comfort zone and we’re proud to be supporting these exciting new voices in film,” says BBH’s chief production officer, Stephen Ledger-Lomas.
Speaking at a Q&A after the screening, director Femi Ladi revealed that winning Differently Does It enabled him to tell his story. “I think the story was always within me, but the brief triggered me to find the story that had my own unique perspective and express it in an unexpected way,” he said.
Ledger-Lomas believes the advertising industry still has work to do in diversity. “While there have been some strides forward, the industry continues to lag behind when it comes to diversity,” he says. “The latest Advertising Association census, All In, showed 32% of Black talent are leaving the ad industry as a result of lack of inclusion. The UK is a diverse nation, so why aren’t our audiences being represented in the work and in top positions in our industry?
“By backing diverse new talent, we invest in the future of the creative industries. In advertising, we have to take collective action to advance DE&I and representation and put a glaring spotlight on this issue so it can’t be deprioritised or dismissed.”