‘Essex Girls’ movie shortlisted for BFI London Film Festival award

A new film challenging the Essex girl stereotype has been shortlisted for this year’s BFI Film Festival in London.

Nominated for the Best Short Film award, ‘Essex Girls’ is a coming-of-age drama based on the experiences of writer and actor Busayo Ige’s teenage years growing up as a young Black woman in Benfleet.

Directed by Yero Timi-Biu and filmed in Southend-on-Sea, ‘Essex Girls’ is a comedy-drama which explores Black British girlhood and female friendships in 2009 Essex and follows the lead character ‘Bisola’, played by Busayo Ige.

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‘Essex Girls’ also features former Eastenders actor and Strictly Come Dancing contestant, Maisie Smith, and Corrina Brown from the Netflix series, Heartstopper.

The production was financed by BFI Network, Surgent Studios, Screen South and Fully Focused and also received funding from Essex County Council’s Arts and Cultural Fund and the National Lottery.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “We were delighted to support this project through a grant from the Essex County Council Arts and Cultural Fund, which continues to back exciting filmmaking and thought-provoking projects across the county.

“‘Essex Girls’ explores the themes of the Essex identity, and particularly that of young Black women from the county. From a cultural development viewpoint, it illustrates the value and importance of Essex in terms of producing and inspiring creative talent and filmmakers to reflect the diversity of the county. It’s fantastic that the film has been selected to be screened at the famous BFI London Film Festival and that it’s shortlisted for such a prestigious award.”

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Angela Moneke, ‘Essex Girls’ producer commented: “We’re thrilled that ‘Essex Girls’ has been recognised by the London Film Festival. With this film, we were keen to playfully challenge notions of who could fit into the ‘Essex Girl’ trope. We rarely dissect Blackness outside London onscreen and there’s an intimacy to stories about identity that we find in these regional spaces.

“The film is vital as a light-hearted, nostalgic ode to noughties Black British girlhood which explores female friendships with wit and warmth. It’s been fantastic to see the film resonate with audiences and we look forward to bringing it to an even bigger platform through the London Film Festival.”

The BFI London Film Festival, which takes place from Wednesday 4 to Sunday 15 October, celebrates the most innovative new films premiering this year. In the Best Short Film category ‘Essex Girls’ will be competing against nine other national and international films for the award.

The film will be available to view on the BFI Player throughout the London Film Festival.

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