The BFI London Film Festival is turning the spotlight on diversity for its 60th edition next month and has tapped British actor and producer David Oyelowo to lead the fest’s headline industry event, the Black Star Symposium.
The event, which will take place on October 6 (the day after Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom opens the festival), will examine why opportunities for black actors are limited in the U.S. and UK and debate what can be done to improve the situation.
Oyelowo, who stars in A United Kingdom and Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe (also screening at the festival), will be joined by London-born writer and director Asante; actor-director Noel Clarke (Kidulthood); and filmmaker and author Julie Dash, whose film Daughters of the Dust was the first full-length film by an African-American woman to be released theatrically in the U.S. and UK.
Writer-director Barry Jenkins, whose critically-acclaimed film Moonlight, about a young African-American man discovering his sexuality whilst growing up in a poor part of Miami, will also participate in the discussions. Film screens in competition at the festival.
Additional speakers include MediaCom chairwoman Karen Blackett; Channel 4 on-screen diversity exec Ramy El-Bergamy; BFI Film Fund director Ben Roberts and BFI creative director Heather Stewart.
“I’m really hopeful we’re about to segue from talking about diversity to actually doing it,” said Oyelowo in a statement.
This year’s Black Star Symposium follows the success of 2015’s Global Symposium on Gender in Media, in partnership with The Geena Davis Institute and Women in Film and TV, with Geena Davis delivering a keynote speech raising the agenda internationally on gender disparity in front of and behind the camera.
The London Film Fest runs from October 5-16 and closes with Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire.