Up-and-coming director wins national film competition


A London director has been crowned the first winner of a new national film competition with a film that aims to challenge stereotypes of ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community.

Jamaican-British rising star Monique Needham has won top prize in the first-ever M&M’S #FilmsYouWantToSee campaign and pocketed £25,000 to bring her concept to life.

Sunday Dinner follows the story of Maya, a Jamaican-British woman who enlists her grandmother’s help to keep the rest of her family in line when she brings her girlfriend home to meet them.

Monique Needham smiling
Monique Needham won £25,000 for her film Sunday Dinner (Credit: Cover Images)

Monique Needham Wins M&M’s First Ever #FilsmYouWantToSee Campaign

M&M’S created the #FilmsYouWantToSee campaign to champion a sense of belonging for everyone in the arts and entertainment realm. The campaign asked participants to create a concept film based on public tweets.

Monique’s Sunday dinner was inspired by a tweet that called out an openly LGBTQ+ person playing high school jock proud of his sexuality.

The 2023 M&M’S #FilmsYouWantToSee Finals took place on March 30 at M&M’S London. The event saw four finalists showcase their trailers before Monique won the top prize. The remaining three finalists also received the second prize of £7,500 to make trailers for their concept films.

Monique Needham is a screenwriter and director. She has long had a passion for expanding the type of stories told about her community. Monique has also already created two short films since 2019, which have been screened and awarded at global film festivals.

Opening up after her win, she said: “It was important to me that people could see themselves, their standard. Their everyday life in a relatable way that I think has never been done before. I am very grateful to M&Ms for giving me the opportunity to tell my story in my own way.

Monique Needham and the other finalists of the M&M's #FilmsYouWantToSee event
Monique Needham won the campaign’s top prize alongside finalists Ethan Ross, Guy Chackarov and Omri Dagan and Natasha Mwansa (Credit: Cover Images)

M&M’s #FilmsYouWantToSee national film competition took place on March 30

M&M’s #FilmsYouWantToSee was born after research conducted in September 2022. Research found that 43% of Gen Z Britons feel they can’t relate to characters on the big screen. It also showed that more than half (57%) felt stereotypes were offensive and overused in movies.

The other three finalists included Bournemouth University student Ethan Ross. Its Pink Glove concept was a heart-pounding thriller that followed an all-LGBTQIA+ spy agency in search of justice after an attempted assassination of a colleague.

Guy Chackarov and Omri Dagan also wowed the judges with their crime comedy Overseen. The film challenged white privilege and police profiling of minorities.

Do it for Jordan by Natasha Mwansa tells the story of Maria. After a heart transplant, Maria finds herself having feelings for a mysterious woman. But then she turns out to be the ex-lover of the former owner of her new heart.

Monique’s film challenges LGBTQIA+ and ethnic minority stereotypes

Kerry Cavanaugh, Business Unit Director at Mars, said, “We are absolutely thrilled for Monique. It was a thrill to see his Sunday Dinner concept grow from a 90 second trailer to a brilliant short film.

I am very grateful to M&Ms for giving me the opportunity to tell my story in my own way.

Kerry then continued, “Monique’s film is fun and witty, and gently breaks down LGBTQIA+ and ethnic minority stereotypes. We hope that Monique’s short film will spark important discussions around belonging and representation in cinema.

She also added, “The M&M’S FUNd initiative was created to help build a world where we all belong. And all of our directors have captured this mission in their work. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Monique. As well as all the other administrators who have shared their experience and expertise with us over the past few months.

Read more: The UK soap opera’s biggest LGBTQ+ characters

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