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Editorials

British Brown Girls: Short Films Redefining British-Asian Women On-Screen

July 28, 2019
British Brown Girls

Lack of diversity in TV and film is a hot topic, and it wasn’t until I saw the selection of stories at the British Brown Girls screening did I realise the true lack of representation of brown women in today’s media. 

The roles for brown women we are used to seeing have become stereotypes and cliches; we are more than the submissive housewives, the strict mothers, the shy/naive/nerdy sisters. It was so refreshing to see a variety of brown women in real-life everyday scenarios that were real, touching, funny and warm. 

UNDR LNDN & Gal-Dem present #BritishBrownGirl

UNDR LNDN teamed with gal-dem to celebrate a new era British Brown girls on TV and film with a special screening and Q&A with writer/director Nida Manzoor and writer/director Myra Appannah. Both shared their experiences as brown women in the world of film: how hard the creative process can become when you consider multiple POVs in your work, the responsibility of telling the truth and avoiding selling your trauma and perpetuating stereotypes, being true to your story and your voice, and the importance of representation: you can’t be what you can’t see. 

Opening and closing with music videos from Joy Crookes: Don’t Let Me Down and Since I Left You were both beautifully shot with the singer/songwriter’s Bangladeshi and Irish heritage being highlighted in her music both lyrically and visually.

Ilford Lane

“Ilford Lane” screenshot

Director: Niki Simone

Starring: Ambreen Razia

Ambreen Razia stars as local hero Maya Clark who is blackmailed for having an affair. With an abusive husband at home and scared for her life, she takes control as Ilford Lane explores the hidden mystery behind her disappearance.

Hounslow Diaries

“Hounslow Diaries” screenshot

How refreshing to see three brown girls being girls, having fun, dreaming big and living life? 

Ambreen Razia, Mandeep Dhillon and Robyn Cara as three friends going through everyday trials and tribulations and having fun at the same time is must-watch TV. We need an entire series.

Watch “Hounslow Diaries” on BBC iPlayer.

Garfield

“Garfield” screenshot

Director: Georgi Banks-Davis

Starring: Mandeep Dhillon & Matthew Trivannon

The casting for this took 8 months. Getting the right people for the roles was so pivotal to this short drama and it shows in the chemistry between Krishna (Mandeep Dhillon) and Garfield (Matthew Trivannion).
Waking up after a wild night out there are no awkward moments of ‘shame’ between the two. Wanting to enjoy the moment you’re in, feeling something genuine whilst battling the angst of the expectations of a ‘good Indian daughter’ hit close to home. The feeling of freedom can be quite rare, to know that the choices in your life are your own. For a short while, we get to see a glimpse of what could have been in this cute, touching and brilliantly edited short drama.

Watch “Garfield” on Vimeo.

Lady Parts

“Lady Parts” screenshot

Director: Nida Mansoor

Starring: Ritu Arya, Juliette Motamed, Lucie Shorthouse, Anjana Vasan, Danielle Vitalis

A part of Channel 4’s programme for fresh comedy talent, Lady Parts follows engineering PHD student Amina (Anjana Vasan) as she juggles finding a husband and settling down with her dream of shredding a mean guitar for an all-female punk band fronted by Saira (Ritu Arya).
A brilliant ensemble cast showcasing diverse Muslim women with humour and strength. 

Watch “Lady Parts” on YouTube.

Hello, Again

“Hello, Again” screenshot

Director: Tom Ruddock

Starring: Jack Brett Anderson & Naomi Scott

Owen (Jack Brett Anderson) struggles with the loss of his mum after her funeral so he heads to the cemetery where he meets Maura (Naomi Scott). A sweet and emotional story about loss, love and life, they try to find a way to connect with the loved ones they’ve lost.

Watch “Hello, Again” on YouTube.

I hope this is the first of many screenings championing brown women in front of and behind the camera.

Also Read: The Rise Of Nigerian-British Filmmakers

Urvisha Patel
Co-Founder of Big Picture Film Club

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