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Director puts his cards on the table in new film

PICTURED: Filmmaker Sam Addo

EAST LONDON filmmaker Sam Addo has dabbled in film since he was 17. His passion and creativity has seen him work at the BBC and Channel U, the former UK music channel, and now he’s released his debut feature film Cards on the Table.

The film, which was shot in just seven days, was born, in part, out of Addo’s frustration at the lack of diversity on the big screen. Here he tells us about his hopes the change the negative narrative of the black community on the big screen.

What inspired you to create Cards on the Table?
One of my longest creative allies and friend Duane Valentino was simply fed up of seeing people from our community in one light – a negative light. The over told story of the hood, another black kid dies, another mother cried; the N-word is flying about.

It became apparent we could sit there and moan about it or do something about. That when we began to write Cards on the Table. It was time to show a more fair and balanced side to the BAME community.

What impact do you hope the film will have?
I just want people [from] our communities to feel refreshed when they see these characters. To see black leads and no one has a gun is kind of rare.

Who did you make this for?
Film lovers mostly. The film is for everyone but we do need to see varied representations of ourselves on the screen and early indications suggest this film does that.

You've said you were frustrated about the lack of diversity and representation of disabled people in film. How did you go about addressing this?
In the most human way. We did not wheel out someone in a wheelchair and make a big deal out of it. One of our actors really had just recovered from a stroke. In the film, he speaks in a way many may find odd but that is what can happen when you have a stroke.

One member of our cast has cerebral palsy. We do not explain his movements, we simply place him in a scene. I have the eye condition glaucoma. This slowly takes away your vision, there are now excuses nor explanation. We simply get on with it because in the real world you get on with it. I hope casting directors follow suit.

Do you feel a responsibility as an independent filmmaker to address such issues (lack of representation) through your art?
As a filmmaker it is important that my son and daughter see themselves portrayed in a fair and balanced way. Representation is very important and there are many, many stories to be told from all cultures.

You've said this is a departure from the familiar "street violence fuelled urban films we see all too often". Why was it important for you to create something distinct to such work?
It is time and long overdue. Where have to really stop talking about changing the narrative and just do it – with or without major backing.

Finally, tell us how people can see the film?
My debut feature film Cards on the Table is out now and streaming exclusively at

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