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BUFF looks back - an end of year review including a summary of the 2009 British Urban Film Festival

On Friday October the 2nd, the 2nd annual British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) launched at the Picture House cinema in Stratford – the home of the 2012 Olympics. And whilst East London has been no stranger to BUFF in the past, a capacity crowd on the opening night confirmed the keenly anticipated line-up of film-making talent on show. One of the standout highlights was the Michael Jackson tribute, paying homage to the king of pop – thanks to the power of youtube and the endless choice of material on offer.

Speaking of choice and this year’s festival offered an unprecedented amount of choice in terms of films – 23 in fact – over the course of 3 days. Naturally for a British Urban Film Festival, the line-up would be in the UK’s favour though London was well represented by the likes of actor-cum-producer Wil Johnson (Disoriented Generation) and actor-cum-director Femi Oyeniran (Fresh off da boat) from Adulthood. Many of this year’s festival films came from debutante directors including Bernard Kordieh (Stick With Me), Tyrone Grosvenor (Ominous Thoughts), and Diana Musafiri (Brothers), further evidence of the depth of UK independent talent, starting out on their chosen vocation. Judging by the entries which came in this year (and are still coming in albeit for next year) from Oxford to Bath, from Tower Hamlets to Mitcham, there seems to be a hunger for urban independent cinema nationwide – and with the coming together of independent filmmakers, film agencies and local authorities - this can only help its’ appeal to grow. London is home to many film festivals already so don’t be surprised if next year’s British Urban Film Festival (the 5th anniversary of Buff Enterprises) comes to you from Belfast or Cardiff.  

In the 2 months since the festival ended, the palettes of those who proclaim to be London cinema-goers have well and truly been whetted by the veritable feast of other festivals and film premieres on offer throughout the autumn. Everywhere you look, there are gangstas everywhere from those in Dead Man Running to Michael Caine in Harry Brown and Nottingham’s finest in 1day – all 3 films have polarised opinion notwithstanding the cinematic achievements of those involved (Don’t be surprised if one of these films – most probably Harry Brown – walks away with 1 or 2 big prizes in 2010). In 2008, BUFF Shorts screened The Hydra which, 12 months on, has now gone on to become an award-winning film.

Submissions are already open for the 2010 British Urban Film Festival. Entries must be accompanied with a DVD and a cheque for £25 (made payable to Buff Enterprises Limited). The address is BUFF 2010, Buff Enterprises c/o 4front Films, 27 Ithica House, Romford Road, London E15 4LJ. And remember, BUFF is the only film festival of its kind anywhere in the UK – screening independent cinema free to the public each and every year since 2005. And to think that the year started with Slumdog Millionaire – it has been a whirlwind 12 months in UK cinema. And despite the continuing recession, the public are still turning out in their millions, in the expectation of being entertained. As has already been pointed out, BUFF 2010 will mark the 5th anniversary of Buff Enterprises, the organisation set up to run the British Urban Film Festival. A number of activities are being planned ahead of the big gig – including the launch of a revolutionary new website – changing the face of film festivals further and the viewing landscape of cinema audiences across the nation.

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