Warner Bros. Discovery Sets Shorts for Black Britain Unspoken Season 3 5

Warner Bros. Discovery Access, the company’s talent development division for under-represented creatives, on Monday unveiled Donell Atkinson-Johnson, Lauren Gee and Joladé Olusanya as the three filmmakers who will tell their stories of what it means to be Black and British in shorts as part of the third annual Black Britain Unspoken program.

Launched in 2022, it aims to give opportunities and voices to Black British filmmakers breaking into the industry “as industry data shows Black people continue to be underrepresented across director, writer and producer roles in the U.K.,” the company said. “Black Britain Unspoken provides filmmakers a pitch-to-production experience and, via program partner Media Trust, professional development opportunities through tailored workshops that focus on media training and career progression.”

For the program’s third season, U.K. production company Wall to Wall, part of Warner Bros. International Television Production, has joined the initiative as a production partner alongside Bounce Cinema, which started supporting it through mentoring, training, and as the premiere event partner in 2023.

The three short films Lloyd the Instructor by Atkinson-Johnson, Dancing on Road by Gee and mandem by Olusanya were selected from more than 300 applicants and pitches to a judging panel that included director and producer Liana Stewart.

“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 season 3 shorts come to life across Warner Bros. Discovery‘s (WBD) platforms,” said Asif Sadiq, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at WBD.

The three shorts selected for 2024 will launch on discovery+ in October as part of WBD’s Black History Month celebrations in the U.K. Read more about the three projects below:

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,” according to the plot description. “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 

The short documents and celebrates the Black British female roller-skating community, showcasing its long history and role 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,” reads the plot description. “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

The docu-film is inspired by the late poet Gboyega Odubanjo and a poem written by director Olusanya in response to Odubanjo’s work. “Mandem” is a word for a group of boys or men, particularly one’s group of mates. “This film explores the perceptions of the ‘mandem,’ portraying their deep and cultural significance within the Black British community and beyond,” according to the plot description. “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.” The director’s poem serves as the skeleton of the film which WBD says challenges stereotypes and celebrates “the collective resilience and diverse identities of the mandem.”

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