Edinburgh is accused of failing to showcase black film directors

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The organiser of Britain's first dedicated black film event has accused the Edinburgh Festival of ignoring talented black directors in this year's programme.

Manlike Shabazz, the founder of Black Filmmaker magazine and the executive director of the Bfm International Film Festival, which opens in London next month, said the absence of black productions in Edinburgh reflected the ignorance of those who decide what to screen.

Mr Shabazz said: "They don't know what's out there, they're not aware of the range of films. There are no films at Edinburgh this year that have been shot by a black director ... There are some great films out there that have been made by black directors that will never be seen by a UK audience."

Nicola Pierson, head of programmes at the Edinburgh Film Festival, defended the selection procedure. "We don't select films on the basis of the director's skin colour," she said "We judge purely on the quality of the film. The directors can be any colour they like.

"We have an open submissions process and two people will watch every film we receive. The question we ask is 'is it any good?'."

This is the third year of the Bfm festival, which aims to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding of black-themed films, as well as giving new opportunities for filmmakers to exhibit their work to buyers and distributors. There will be more than 70 screenings including features, documentaries, short films and animation from the UK, Europe, the United States, Canada and Africa.

Topping the bill is the latest film by Spike Lee, A Huey P Newton Story, which has its British première at the festival. It tells the life story of the founder of the Black Panthers. Lee is expected to appear in London to present the film.

The festival will also host the directorial debut of the actor Laurence Fishburn when it screens the European premiere of Once in a Lifetime. Fishburn also acts in the film.

One of the more controversial screenings this year is Injustice, a documentary exploring the struggles of five families whose relatives have died while in police custody. Charles Thompson, the festival director, said: "This film took five years to make and is one of the most important films that will ever be screened in the UK."

The 3rd Bfm International Film festival will take place at the Soho Curzon cinema in London from 7 to 13 September and continues from 14 to 16 September at other cinemas around London.

For bookings and information, telephone 0901 551 0001.