Differently Does It: BBH celebrates difference and its 40th anniversary by screening four winning shorts
Four filmmakers have released their winning films entered as part of the agency's initiative, which sought to unearth more diverse voices in the creative sector.
Many ad agencies will wax lyrical about the importance of diversifying their creative output, but few put their money where their mouth is to make that happen. But BBH has done just that by screening four winning films from its Differently Does It (DDI) initiative.
Launched last year along with the agency's 40th anniversary, DDI was created to find and support more diverse voices in film through a partnership with Audi.
Entrants were asked to respond to the theme of 'Difference', and the four winners each received a budget of £20,000 to create their films and a masterclass from a renowned director and creative guidance from BBH. And the winning films will launch on the international film circuit at the end of this year.
BBH's Global Chief Creative Officer, Alex Grieve, says: "At BBH, we always take the road less travelled, and we believe in the power of difference to make a difference. There is a very real lack of difference in the creative voices shaping the industry we love. This is a small investment in giving those voices some volume."
The four winners include OBA, directed by Femi Ladi; Where I Can See Them from Lanre Malaolu; Flee & Engulfed, by Chen Hui; and As For Me, by Guen Murroni.
OBA is the imagined retelling of Yoruba tradition based on a south London council estate. It's a coming-of-age story that straddles two worlds and sees the protagonist make sense of his family's history and legacy. Ladi comes from a law-degree background and was grateful to have had the opportunity to explore directing through this initiative and hopes to maintain his filmic momentum following this venture.
In Malaolu's film, he presented the humanity behind police stop-and-search protocols, revealing the long-term impact that they can have on black men. Structured as a documentary with choreographed elements, the short reflects Malaolu's first venture into directing, given his background as an actor and dancer. He shared how much he enjoyed the process of putting something so personal together despite how emotionally challenging it sometimes got on set.
He said: "I'm making this film for black people, black men, to be able to see themselves," he said. "It's also a 'wake up' to certain audiences who maybe don't experience this or know this exists."
Hui's short was a sensual and dreamy exploration of self-acceptance and Chinese identity, questioning the role that difference plays in society and individuals today. The short created a non-linear and conceptual narrative combining new and archive footage.
As For Me looked at the reality of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder while hinting at child abuse. The film restores agency to the protagonist over her mental health despite struggles, and it's something Murroni is now looking to develop into a feature.
BBH's Chief Production Officer, Stephen Ledger-Lomas, adds: "All of these films were written and created from a place of truth, and the drive, passion and commitment of each winning team are contagious."