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British Council Film team expands

  • Jemma Desai and Wendy Mitchell

Jemma Desai and Wendy Mitchell

We're delighted to announce the appointment of two new Film Programme Managers here at British Council's Film department.

Jemma Desai, appointed to the newly created post of Film Programme Manager (Shorts and Global Exhibition), will lead our Shorts programme including overseeing the Travel Grant fund for short filmmakers, and will develop a new global touring film initiative for us.

Desai joins the team from the Independent Cinema Office (ICO), where she was a Film Programmer, providing advice to independent cinemas on film programmes, working on initiatives such as the 'Two Films by Josephine Decker' project and 'D word' Screening Days and contributing to distribution and training activity. Alongside her part time British Council position, she will continue as a strand programmer for the BFI London Film festival, and continue to develop her own exhibition projects and writing.

Desai has a Masters in Cultural Heritage Studies and has previously worked at the Black Cultural Archives, as a freelancer working in film development, production and exhibition for organisations including Revolution Films and the BFI.  As an independent curator and festival producer she has collaborated with London Indian Film Festival, Birds Eye View Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, BFI Flare and Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Wendy Mitchell has been working with the British Council as a Film Programme Manager since January 2015 as maternity cover for Rachel Robey. With Robey now back at her post, Mitchell has joined the team permanently in the newly created position of Film Programme Manager (Festivals and Digital), with responsibility for the British Council’s expanded film festival selector screenings series. Her post with us is part time and she also continues to serve as a Contributing Editor at Screen International.

Before joining the British Council, Mitchell was Editor of Screen International, where she started working in 2005. Her previous roles include Staff Editor at Entertainment Weekly, Managing Editor at indieWIRE, Assistant Editor at Rolling Stone Press, and News Editor at CMJ New Music Report — all based in New York City. She is also a contributor for SkyArts’ TV series Discovering Hollywood and has appeared as a film industry commentator on the BBC, CNN, and Sky.

Desai and Mitchell add to another recent appointment, Nicola Gallani, who recently joined the Film team in the temporary post of Film Programme Manager (Shakespeare). Gallani is spearheading the British Council’s ambitious Shakespeare Lives film programme, which will screen a wealth of British Shakespearean adaptations in more than 110 countries. Gallani has a background in independent film distribution and exhibition spanning two decades, including stints at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the British Film Institute and Peccadillo Pictures.

She was distribution consultant to BAFTA from 2013 to 2015 and served as Artistic Director of the British Film Festival of Kurdistan in Erbil, Iraq. Closer to home she produces Net.Work at LFF, an emerging talent programme for Creative England and the BFI. In 2014 Nicola executive produced three new short film commissions for the British Council from John Akomfrah, Mark Cousins and Penny Woolcock and she most recently directed a short documentary about London’s historic Little Italy.

Briony Hanson, British Council's Director of Film, said: “These appointments are fantastic news for the British Council and for the UK’s film sector. We have been working hard over the last few years to find international opportunities for UK film together with a range of partners and being able to increase the team this year shows the value that our organisation places on Film as a tool for its cultural relations work. These three new members of staff with their wealth of experience across different fields will be tremendous advocates for UK film and filmmakers on the international stage, and we are looking forward to seeing them develop a series of ambitious new projects.”