Hawanatu Bangura is an Afro-Australian award-winning director, writer and producer. She was part of the prestigious Screen Producers Australia: One to Watch program in 2017. Born in Sierra Leone, she migrated to Australia in 2002 and as a teenager discovered her interest in filmmaking when she was involved in a youth film project. She took the creative lead to make a short film and realised her passion for storytelling, creativity, and expression could be best channeled through the medium of film. Hawanatu relentlessly pursued this passion, attending her first filmmaking workshop and shortly after wrote and directed her first short narrative film about the experience of a person from an African background challenges and triumphs of settling in Australia.
Since then, Hawanatu has developed an impeccable eye for storytelling and honed her filmmaking craft. She has written, produced and directed over 9 short films in various genres including dance, experimental, drama, documentary and animation. One of her recent films is I am Black and Beautiful, an award-winning short documentary explores the impact of western media on seven Afro-Australian women’s identity and understanding of beauty. It has been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival Kids; Film Pittsburg and won best short documentary at Montreal International Black Film Festival.
Her short animation film, ‘Money Tree’, about a boy who wants to become rich by planting a stolen coin was nominated for best animation at Montreal International Black Film Festival. This filmed was screened both in Australia and internationally at film festivals including the Legacy Film Festival (United Kingdom); Shaan-E-Awadh International Film Festival (India); Adelaide Kids Film Festival; African Film festival Australia and International Pan African Film Festival (Cannes).
She has been join forces with a group of Afro-Australian female filmmakers to create a web series titled Afro Sistahs - a short form narrative comedy/drama that explores the complex nature in which culture, gender, race, love and of course, hair, intersect. In 2018, Hawanatu won the best director award at Made in the West Film Festival.
With a degree in Social Work and Social Science from the University of NSW, Hawanatu worked as an advocate for people with a disability from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Hawanatu’s films are driven by her personal values – so themes of social justice, empowerment, identity, peace, hope, and wisdom are strong in her work. The stories in her films are universal, resonating with audiences far and wide. Hawanatu is passionate about using her films as a platform to raise consciousness about social issues and social injustices.