We Are Parable brings new ways of seeing Black cinema to UK audiences

With the likes of Channel 4, Spike Lee and Marvel Studios, We Are Parable creates both exciting events and impactful programs that centres Black talent.

9 June 2022

A New Angle is an editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. In each edition, we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.

This week, we chat to Anthony Andrews, co-founder of We Are Parable, a company creating unique cinematic experiences for Black audiences. For Anthony and co-founder Teanne Andrews, the idea all came from never having seen the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America on the big screen; there and then, the pair held a screening at their local cinema in 2013 and never looked back. We Are Parable has since built a legacy of cinematic events that span retrospectives with Spike Lee and Afro-futuristic cosplay kingdoms with Marvel Studios – all with the aim of offering audiences opportunities to view and respond to Black cinema in innovative ways. Now delivering Momentum, a mentoring programme supporting Black filmmakers, we speak to We Are Parable about its journey so far.

It’s Nice That: What about the creative industry are you aiming to change and why does it need changing?

Anthony Andrews: We want to create opportunities for Black filmmakers and content creators to progress their careers, and we’re doing that via Momentum, our nationwide mentoring and training programme scheme for Black British creatives. Why does it need changing? We saw a bit of research from the Film and TV charity that said of all the jobs in the sector, a tiny percentage, maybe three to four per cent, are populated Black and Brown people. We want to change that, because it’s simply not good enough.

It’s Nice That: What have you built, and how does it tackle these industry issues?

Anthony Andrews: We’ve partnered with Channel 4 to deliver Momentum, a nationwide six month programme which supports 60 Black creatives with mentoring, but we’ve also teamed up with a psychological therapist to create mental health sessions to manage wellbeing, as well as develop masterclasses with industry experts. We want to leverage all of the goodwill we’ve accumulated in this sector and turn that into helping filmmakers progress their careers, so little by little, we can move that pitiful percentage up to something that feels a lot more representative.

It’s Nice That: What other organisations are out there like We Are Parable, and what sets yours apart?

Anthony Andrews: There are some fantastic companies doing amazing work like T a p e Collective, Other Stories, One Minute Shorts and we’d definitely recommend your readers check them out. I think it’s not so much about what sets us apart, but more about what we’re all trying to do, which is bring films from emerging artists to engaged audiences. We all have, however, different ways of doing it, and for us, we’re about providing opportunities for audiences to experience and respond to Black Cinema in culturally relevant, unique and memorable ways.

It’s Nice That: What are the major challenges you’re facing?

Anthony Andrews: I think although we’ve navigated the last two years well, the ongoing effects of the pandemic are still impacting our industry as a whole. Audiences are coming back to in-person screenings, but it’s not at pre-covid levels yet; the ways we watch and experience films are continuing to evolve and I’ve always said that the organisations that can anticipate the shift will ultimately be the ones that do well.

It’s Nice That: What can the creative industry do to support your mission?

Anthony Andrews: It’s not good enough for commissioners, organisations, whoever, to say that they don’t know where to find Black and Brown talent. We’ve always been here to be fair, but there are people like us, T a p e Collective, Undr Ldn and others who are platforming artists’ work. So if you really don’t know where to find these creatives; we do, so support us, so we can continue to support and champion the work of some amazing voices

It’s Nice That: Talk us through some of your most recent projects or initiatives.

Anthony Andrews: We’ve recently supported two films via a nationwide tour: Rebel Dread, which documents the life of Don Letts, DJ, filmmaker and creative polymath, and The Black Cop, which won a BAFTA in March. We also worked with Film4 on launching a series of films that explored alternative realities for Black and Brown people in the UK. And finally, we are currently delivering Who We Are, our nationwide celebration of Black Cinema from around the world; we work with independent cinemas up and down the country to bring films we love to audiences who love them. This important work is funded by the British Film Industry and The National Lottery.

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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