Jemma Desai

Film Programme Manager

Jemma originally joined the British Council to run our British Council shorts support offer, administer the Travel Grant Fund, and manage our EU Film Festival offer globally. After a period of maternity leave she re-joined us in 2018 to look after programmes in the Middle East & North Africa and across Sub Saharan Africa.

As a newish recruit, she is in awe of her colleagues' ambitious film programmes and is busy plotting her own. Alongside her time at British Council she continues as programme adviser for BFI London Film Festival, with a special sweet spot for unhinged women on screen, and she is the founder of I am Dora, a publication and screening series exploring how women relate to one another through cinema through which she regularly programmes film events and discussions in London.

Jemma has a Masters in Cultural Heritage and began her career working at the Black Cultural Archives as Programme Manager. She earned her stripes in film as a festival producer with LFF,  London Indian Film Festival,  BFI Flare and Edinburgh International Film Festival and as a freelancer working in film development, production and exhibition for organisations including Revolution Films, Vertigo Films and the BFI. Jemma joined the British Council from the Independent Cinema Office (ICO), where she was a Film Programmer, providing advice to independent cinemas on their film programmes, and learning about indie distribution by developing projects like  'Two Films by Josephine Decker'.

Specialties for British Council Film Team:
Current: programmes in Middle East & North Africa, Sub Saharan Africa; Previous: shorts, global exhibition.

Working at British Council since: 2016

Best thing about working on British Council Film Team: the snacks

Career highlight so far: the best is still to come.

Favourite British film of all time: too hard!!

Favourite British film of 2016: American Honey

To contact Jemma: