The Videoplugger Blog- Reviews & Interviews

BFI 2021: Afternoon Tea Session with Documentary Filmmakers

Last Sunday we had the pleasure to attend the Documentary Filmmakers panel hosted by BFI 2021 at the Mayfair hotel, in London.

There we met the talented directors of some of the documentaries presented at the BFI 2021: Adrián Silvestre (Sediments); Tim Travers Hawkins and Celia Aniskovich (Burn It Down); Rex Miller (Citizen Ashes) and Matthew Heineman (The First Wave)

The panel was moderated by Chloe Trayner, who interviewed the directors, asking them about the creative process and the genesis of their work. After the introductory Q&A, the filmmakers explored these and other topics in group sessions with press delegates attending the event.


We have collected the most interesting testimonies that came out during the conference and interviews, of which we’ll try to give a brief recollection here:


SEDIMENTS (Spain 2021. 89min)

This Spanish documentary is about a group of Spanish trans women who go on a road trip and openly share their life experiences in this warm and honest documentary.

The Valencian-born director, Adrián Silvestre, said: “I came out with the idea of the film, after working for 5 years with trans communities. It was in 2016 when I talked to Tina Recio, one of the protagonists, in order to make a film about the trans community, and she introduced me to the I-Vaginarium association. Once I had met them, I put forward my idea. ‘How I do it will depend on you,’ I told them. We thus created a group, and each person outlined their conditions and red lines. After running a series of community workshops on film language and acting, I ended up with six who agreed to make the film.”

The storyline underlines the difference between big and small cities in terms of openness to diversity. Human beings are afraid of the unknown, and that’s where prejudice comes from, no matter the country or the period of history. With the closeness that you get in small towns, people know each other very well, while in cities, you get that anonymity, brusqueness, and awkwardness of not knowing your neighbors. In the end, the director stressed his willingness to give an optimistic message based on positive values such as friendship, freedom and trust.


CITIZEN ASHES (UK-USA 2021. 94min)

Director Rex Miller revealed to us that he started his work doing researches in museums and archives to find out more about the figure of Ashe. His creative process draws on his background in photography and visual storytelling, which he combines with the cultural heritage that stems from his Jamaican roots. His work in filming and directing Citizen Ashe was based on mutual respect between him and his cast and troupe members, deriving also from his awareness of his role and responsibility as a filmmaker: he believes everyone in their own way must play their part for justice, to the extent that they are able to do so.



When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, hospital staff found themselves on the front line. This essential film documents the first wave as experienced by New York City’s emergency medical workers.

Filming during such a difficult time, cast and crew were confronted with many difficulties and they managed to overcome them thanks to their dedication, love and motivation. The director wishes the spectators will prove an even bigger sense of gratitude towards healthcare workers after watching this documentary, but also a sense of empowerment deriving from the awareness that we’re not alone but we can overcome difficult situations together. Heinemann knows that to tell a story entails a point of view: it’s a cultural privilege.





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