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Channel 4 is on a mission to “connect up whole career paths” for emerging BAME film-makers, according to Bristol head Sacha Mirzoeff.

Speaking on last week’s BBC Academy online panel Capturing Black Lives Matter, Mirzoeff highlighted the conversations his team is having with Blak Wave Films, which produced  short film The Shadow of Slavery, part of C4’s Take Your Knee Off My Neck fast-turnaround series after the murder of George Floyd.

The four-part strand featured two films from first-time directors and Mirzoeff acknowledged a need to nurture these voices going forward.

“It championed some brilliant young voices that caught the moment so well,” he said. “There’s a lot of work internally going on at C4 about what’s next – what can we do to ensure longevity?

“That’s our job: connecting up whole career paths as opposed to what would have been done in the past, where it was, ‘you’ve done your film, off you go’ and they’re left to fend for themselves.”

He said Blak Wave Films’ short, which documented the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol, was in effect a calling card for emerging film-makers in the city.

“We want to start building family trees where we can see them,” he said. “Mike [Jenkins] and Mena [Fombo] are on their way. Who are the people we should be talking to? We very much want to reach out. It’s not going to be straightforward. For us to be a small part of change in Bristol is very exciting.”

Merzoeff said that one of the few good things to have emerged from Covid 19 was that it gave the opportunity for C4 to have “a long deep look at ourselves” in terms of the broadcaster’s diversity remit.

“Are we doing the things we’re doing best? I don’t think we are, in spite of what we’re saying,” he said.

“But now, we feel genuinely excited about the future – it’s either now or never if we’re going to get this lasting change. It doesn’t happen overnight but I am seeing it in a different way than I have before, both locally and nationally in our channel.

“It’s still not a simple road, let’s be honest. We’re in a position where we need to change at every level. David Olusoga’s MacTaggart lecture was a brilliant analysis of where we are. It was brave and personal and showed in a really human way how we failed and what we need to do.”

Blak Waves co-founder Jenkins also spoke about We Are Not the Virus, a film the indie made for the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine strand.

“We were one of 1600 applications and I got declined at first but then they emailed back a few days later to give me the commission,” he revealed.

“We really wanted to capture this moment and explore with people the fact that the language that’s been used to describe migrants is just atrocious and disgusting and born out of a place of misunderstanding. I wanted to take a common idea of migrants being like a virus and just flip that on its head.”

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