Elias Williams is a writer, film maker and host based in Bristol. He is charismatic, hardworking and his media platform Mandem is gradually taking off.
Elias has a BA in Filmmaking and a MA in History – He has utilised these degrees to combine his passion for untold historical stories into his self-produced films.
With the help of his brother Timon, he has set up his website mandemhood. It is here where he showcases his short films that focuses on black leads such as Mansa Musa, one of the wealthiest people to ever live and Yasuke, a black samurai fighter in Japan. Elias tells these biographies in a thought-provoking way and has a talent for storytelling even with limited resources as he funds these projects himself. Not only does Elias post content but a whole network of people use mandemhood as a platform to display their work.
Mandem is a space that facilitates opportunities for men to explore both race and masculinity. Inspired by the female alternative, gal-dem, Mandemhood.com has content for everyone – ranging from articles, podcasts and short films; the purpose of the platform is to give the creative community a voice whilst also breaking down stereotypes by forecasting different narratives through giving creative contributors an agency to tell their truth.
Exemplars are ‘Why Black Students Don’t Study History At University’ where a student opens up about why it is so hard to encourage black students to study history, or maybe you might be interested in a film producer who creates a five minute film projecting his childhood experience – ‘Boys Like Us’.
The website has given a lot of men of colour a digital place to exert their thoughts into something tangible. Elias believes that a lot of men bottle these feelings up, and never had the space or confidence to voice their experiences. Mandem provides a space where one can be vulnerable, honest and be able to self-reflect and examine through a creative means.
Not everything that Mandem does is online, Elias also hosts panel discussions regularly discussing topics such as masculinity, mental health and racism. He presents these discussions in front of an active audience and unpicks and explores these concepts with a selected panel including featured guest panellists such as British rapper and activist Lowkey.
When asked about the role of women within his platform, Elias explained “even though it is an all-male platform which can have its controversies, women are involved as contributors, actresses and panellists”. The organisation wants to represent men of colour in a positive light which includes respecting women. One of the events that Elias hosted was ‘Do Mandem Need Feminism?’ which took a unique perspective to the topic by having an all-male black panel that had a range of opinions on the matter, showing how dynamic these events can be.
These events usually take place in Bristol at the Watershed – However, the next big event will be held at the Barbican Theatre in London on the 12thMarch. This theatre that can hold up to 200 people – showing how the brand has grown and is now being recognised on a national scale. The discussion of the night will be ‘Mandem Don’t Cry: Deconstructing Grime, Race and Masculinity’ with a diverse panel! Tickets can be found on the mandemhood website if you are interested.