Stand Up, Stand Out | A Powerful Short Film by Ronita Awoonor-Gordon

Up-and-coming London filmmaker Ronita Awoonor-Gordon debuts her new film Stand Up, Stand Out at Mediorite’s Get Seen Film Festival after being selected for the festival’s 2024 showcase. 

Stand Up, Stand Out uses fashion film and documentary elements to pay homage to looks that have fought for change, been the target of discrimination and have helped give us the freedoms we know today. When people take to the streets to protest discriminatory and oppressive systems, they often use their bodies to make a statement. To stand up for themselves. This goes beyond just bodies on the streets at protests. The way these people choose to style themselves often drives their cause even further. It often helps them become etched in our memories. While not always immediately obvious or always the focus of our attention when we speak about activism and protests, fashion and styling have a big part to play. 

The film explores the relevance of style in 5 movements: Working Class Movements (referencing yellow vest movements and modern day protest styles), The Civil Rights Movement (referencing the Black Panthers and Martin Luther King), Hair Discrimination leading to the implementation of the Halo Code, Women Empowerment Movements (referencing Riot Grrrl aesthetic and masculine silhouettes) and Youth Counter Culture Movements (referencing the ‘hippie’ anti-war movement of the 60s and the Nigerian alté aesthetic and its links to the End SARS movement).

This independent film was a self-funded passion project of director Ronita Awoonor-Gordon inspired by an old anthropology paper she wrote during her Masters exploring whether aesthetics could be a useful tool for African Feminisms. Her previous work includes the dance film I Am Beautiful, the Youtube Originals-backed documentary Terms and Conditions: The Finer Details and music videos for the likes of Jords and kadiata.

Speaking about the film, Ronita shares “This film forced me out of my comfort zone but I felt that allowing myself to be uncomfortable was the least I could do to pay homage to the work that people have done with these movements. 

Part of my ethos as a Filmmaker and Visual Anthropologist is to create a space in the film world for underrepresented people and stories. This film depicts a mix of well-known and niche movements. Being a black woman from South London, I am aware of stories that, if lucky, get only a couple minutes of news time even when they affect millions. I know firsthand the day-to-day impact they have on people. It was important for me to use my work to draw attention to these movements but also put my creative spin on it. I like to explore social and cultural topics through new and creative angles such as making this fashion film.

The project at times seemed like it would stop before it even started with so many bumps in the road such as lack of funding. I couldn’t wait for people to support my vision and decided to put a tiny amount of my own money into making this. As a result, I relied heavily on the generosity, willingness to collaborate and talents of my cast and crew. Each person brought something special to this project that I could have never achieved without them.”

Watch the behind the scenes video below.

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Stand Up, Stand Out Credits

Director – Ronita Awoonor-Gordon
Producer – Daniela Navalshankar
Production Company – Delagoa Productions
Creative Director – Rohmarra Kerr
Director’s Assistant – Jass Mensah
Production Assistant – Munashe Maswodza
DOP – Fraser Stephen
1st AC – Edgar Bogdanov
Gaffer – Jordan White
Sound Recordist & Sound Designer – Kadie Kposowa
Art Director – Tabitha Odutayo
Stylist – Blanchette Kadjo
Stylist Assistant – Francesca Foster
HMUA – Karolina Gruszecka
Hair Stylist – Samantha Russell @ Last Looks
Editor – Godsfavour Inyang
Colourist – Juliette Wileman @ Absolute
Stills Photographer – Abu Dumbuya
Abu Stills Photographer – Inés Ladrón de Cegama López
BTS Videographer – Inés Ladrón de Cegama López

Models: Yasmine Alice, Cain Caingsta-Magee, David Adesanya, Toni-Marie Happe, Kiyah Coleman, Jass Mensah, Abu Dumbuya, Lemmar Reid, Darren Lee, Jessica Cohen

Voiceover: Jass Mensah, Geniva Chisholm, Neta Gracewell, Inna Dementieva, Richard Garner, Bobby Yomi-Ashiwaju, Candice, Tapiwa Liwimbi, Tabitha Odutayo, Jasmine Cline-Bailey, Stefano Sowah Feehi

Designers include Grace Deveer, Sourtai, Toni Textures

With special thanks to New Comma