Jamaican-British director wins new film competition challenging film stereotypes
A new national film competition has launched aimed at challenging “offensive” movie stereotypes – with the film entries all developed based on public Tweets.
The M&M’s #FilmsYouWantToSee campaign was created to champion a sense of belonging for all in the arts and entertainment space, and participants were tasked with creating a film concept based on a post they had read on Twitter.
The final of the inaugural #FilmsYouWantToSee competition was held at M&M's World in London yesterday (Thurs) – and the winning director was awarded £25,000 to bring her film concept to life.
Jamaican-British rising star, Monique Needham, created a trailer for her film, “Sunday Dinner”, inspired by a Tweet which called for an openly LQBTQ+ person, who is proud of their sexuality, playing the high-school jock.
The story follows a young, queer, Jamaican-British woman, Maya, who enlists the help of her grandmother to keep the rest of her family in line when she brings her girlfriend home to meet them.
Writer and director Monique has already created two short films since 2019, which have been shown and commended at global film festivals – and she feels passionate about broadening the types of stories told about her community.
After her win, Monique said: “It was important to me that people could see themselves, their norm, their day-to-day in a relatable way that, I think, hasn’t been done before. Very grateful for M&Ms for giving me the opportunity to tell my story my way.”
The M&M's #FilmsYouWantToSee was born after research, conducted in September 2022, found that 43% of Gen-Z Brits feel they can’t relate to characters on the big screen – and more than half (57%) felt that stereotypes are offensive and overused in film.
Alongside Monique, the #FilmsYouWantToSee 2023 final also saw three other finalists showcase trailers for their film concepts – each winning a runner-up prize of £7,500 to develop a full trailer for their film.
The remaining three finalists included Ethan Ross, a Bournemouth University student whose concept “Pink Glove” was a heart-thumping thriller which followed an all-LGBTQIA+ spy agency looking for justice after an assassination attempt of a colleague.
Guy Chackarov and Omri Dagan also impressed judges with their cop-based comedy “Supervised”, which challenged white privilege and police profiling of minorities in a world where cops bust white people for minor offences.
And Natasha Mwansa's “Do it for Jordan” told the story of Maria who, after a heart-transplant procedure, finds herself having feelings for a mystery woman – who turns out to be the ex-lover of her new heart’s previous owner.
Kerry Cavanaugh, Business Unit Director at Mars, said: “We are absolutely thrilled for Monique. It has been a pleasure to see her concept, “Sunday Dinner”, develop from a 90-second trailer to a brilliant short film.
“Monique’s film is fun, witty, and gently breaks down LGBTQIA+ and ethnic minority stereotypes. We hope Monique’s short film will spark important discussions around belonging and representation in film.
“The M&M’S FUNd initiative was created to help grow a world where we all feel like we belong, and all of our directors have captured this mission in their work.
“We can’t wait to see what’s next for Monique and all the other directors who have shared their experience and expertise with us over the last few months.”
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