Differently Does It: BBH celebrates difference and its 40th anniversary by screening four winning short films

Many agencies will wax lyrical about the importance of diversifying their creative output, but few put their money where their mouth is to do this. But BBH did just that by screening four winning films from its Differently Does It (DDI) initiative.

Launched last year in conjunction 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 received a £20,000 budget to make their films and a masterclass from a renowned director and creative mentoring from BBH. And the winning films will be released on the international cinema circuit at the end of this year.

BBH’s Global Chief Creative Officer, Alex Grieve, says: “At BBH, we always take the road less traveled and 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 to give volume to these voices.”

The four winners include OBA, directed by Femi Ladi; Where can I see them from Lanre Malaolu. Flee & Engulfed, by Chen Hui; and As For Me, by Guen Murroni.

OBA is the fictional account of Yoruba tradition set on a South London council estate. It’s a coming-of-age story that crosses two worlds and sees the protagonist come to terms with his family’s history and heritage. Ladi comes from a law degree and was grateful to have the opportunity to explore directing through this initiative and hopes to maintain his filmmaking momentum after this venture.

In Malaolu’s film, he showed the humanity behind police stop-and-frisk protocols, revealing the long-term effect they can have on black men. Structured as a documentary with choreographed elements, the short marks Malaolu’s directorial debut 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 got at times on set.

He said: “I’m making this film for black people, black people, so they can see themselves,” he said. “It’s also an ‘awakening’ for certain audiences who may not experience this or know it exists.”

As for me, Guen Murroni

Mathieu Ajan, Lanre Malaolu, Femi Ladi and Guen Murroni

Mathieu Ajan, Lanre Malaolu, Femi Ladi and Guen Murroni

Guen Murroni, Femi Ladi, Lanre Malaolu and Chen Hui

Guen Murroni, Femi Ladi, Lanre Malaolu and Chen Hui

Where can I see them, Lanre Malaolu

Where can I see them, Lanre Malaolu

Hui’s short was a sensual and dreamlike exploration of self-acceptance and Chinese identity, questioning the role that diversity plays in society and individuals today. The short created a non-linear and conceptual narrative that combines new and archival material.

As For Me examined the reality of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder while alluding to child abuse. The film restores the protagonist to her mental health despite her struggles, and it’s something Murroni is now trying to develop into a feature.

BBH 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 is contagious.”

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