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On July 30th 2016 in the heart of London a very special film event called ‘The Art of Her’ took place. The event, the first in a series curated by the filmmaker Corine Dhondee and funded by the British Film Institute, was aimed at Black, Asian and minority ethnic women filmmakers. The event was conceived by Corine as a creative space where we celebrate Black, Asian and ethnically diverse women filmmakers, consider the different types of films women make and the different experiences women have within the film and TV industries. A mobile space for continued dialogue, sharing, learning, strategising and growth. Coming from a low income bracket Corine had developed some of her understanding of film processes by attending free events organised by film organisations such as B3 Media and Film London. At the same time she widened her film network whilst attending events such as SOUL. Consequently she wanted women to have access to The Art of Her event. Free to attendees tickets went in 12 hours.

The first event premiered The Queen’s Suite jazz documentary which was inspired by the little known meeting between America’s most famous big band jazz leader Duke Ellington and Queen Elizabeth II at the Leeds music festival in 1959. Inspired by his meeting Ellington wrote The Queen’s Suite, one pressing was made and sent directly to Buckingham Palace. Fifty years later Corine attended an open rehearsal at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and saw the Tomorrow’s Warriors Jazz orchestra led by the young Musical Director Peter Edwards perform The Queen’s Suite. Captivated by the music and the story she pitched an idea to make a documentary and the fruits of her labour were viewed in London six years after she began the process of writing and making the film.

The film was made with no funds instead Corine was given a camera and sound equipment and was told to go and make her film by Christopher Hird the founder of Dartmouth Films. There were numerous struggles and hardships along the way recalled by Janine Irons the Managing Director of Dune Music/Tomorrow’s Warriors (now called Nu Civilisation Orchestra) in the video about the event. Once the documentary was filmed a 60 day Kickstarter project raised funds for post-production and archive footage. In 2016 Corine was finally able to finish the film with her own funds. The outcome is an exceptional achievement by a woman whose background is the social sciences.

The film gives great insight into the processes of the exceptionally talented musician Peter Edwards as he transcribes from the record and manuscripts The Queen’s Suite. Seeing the film made Peter wince in parts and in the Q&A he admitted to being terrified during the early stages of filming. Those who saw the film stated that part of the charm of The Queen’s Suite was watching Peter. They felt his differing expectations, his joy, they saw him become a Musical Director and they loved the music. In addition people could relate to the film and it’s cultural settings. It was Britain but the family setting was Black Briton. It’s authentic tone captivated the audience. Many could relate directly to the setting whilst others saw the narrative as a refreshing one on Black British male identity.

The film introduced the audience to Peter Edwards who they saw as being one of Britain’s most talented young musicians. His ability to compose, play the piano and direct makes him stand out amongst his peers. Whilst the event brought together Black, Asian and minority ethnic emerging filmmakers, talented musicians and artists and introduced them to The Queen’s Suite a suite written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. It was an evening of connecting, communicating through film and music and that created a buzz of inspiration.

A 5 minute video from the event with interviews from Dionne Edwards, Filmmaker, Lisa Anderson, Founder of Black British Arts, Janine Irons MBE, Managing Director of Dune Music, Amanda Sibanda, Filmmaker & Storyteller, and Iyare Igiehon, Founder of SOUL, about the significance of event and the film can be found here

Since the screening there have been many inquiries about the film and Corine is now in discussion with organisations about further screenings in 2016 and 2017.

After making The Queen’s Suite Corine was awarded a bursary to attend London Film School where she has written and directed a number of short films. The latest Sticks and Stones screened at the London Short Film Festival. In 2016 her documentary script The Art of Her about the zeitgeist of Black British women filmmakers was short listed for script development by the BFI.Network and she is now preparing to film her short film Quiet Storm based on an interview she conducted with a friend whose brother died in police custody. The film is a fictional adaptation centred on the relationship of two women. Having been accepted onto Skillset’s trainee finder scheme she is embarking on a career as an Assistant Director after working with the renowned 1st AD Terry Bamber. She is also organising the next and final The Art of Her event to take place in the winter of 2016.

The Art of Her brought together emerging filmmakers, musicians and artists.

To keep informed about further events join the facebook page

Peter Edwards graduated with a Masters in Jazz from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in 2009. He began his career with Dune Music recording and touring with the Abram Wilson Quartet and went on to work with Rhythmica, Nicola Emmanuelle and Zara McFarlane.

'Edwards came across as the real deal... McCoy Tyner-ish intensity fused with flashes of Ahmad Jamal/ Wynton Kelly urbanity' Jazzwise Magazine

In 2010, Peter formed The Peter Edwards trio Trio featuring Rob Ansty on Bass and Moses Boyd on Drums. The band released a Jazzlotion E.P. The following year Help Musicians presented him with a Development Award to help support the band’s progress. In 2013, Peter returned to the studio to record his debut trio album ‘Safe and Sound’. The album has received glowing reviews – 4 stars in MOJO, 4 stars in 'The Evening Standard' and 3 stars in 'The Guardian'. In 2016 he will release his latest album.

'Edwards energetic playing- full of emphatic chording, Latin grooves and romantic cinematic themes'

More information about Peter Edwards can be found on his website

Photographs by Louisa Paolini


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