At a time when the need for innovative, thoughtful and commercially viable movies are paramount in the UK, it's always good to see an institution like First Light put their money where their mouth is. A foundation set up to develop skills in under-25s through film and media production, their annual awards ceremony (the 11th) is just around the corner.
Working with diverse, often underprivileged kids, the First Light Awards, says Operations Director Paul Hewlett, "is unique - it's a huge celebration of young filmmaking talent. It is also very inspirational for the young filmmakers to meet those they most admire in the industry and receive feedback from the professionals. Many of the young people we work with have experienced disadvantage and the Awards provide a great opportunity to celebrate their achievements."
All the nominated films can be found at the First Light website, including Silent Scream, a short docu-drama set in Bristol about a young girl trying to rescue her sister from physical trauma. "It was hard, but incredibly good fun and an experience of a life time," says Muna M Hassan, one of the movie's directors and editors. "We got to work with such incredible people who understood our perspective of things." Dealing with female circumcision, it was put together by a 26-strong all-female team, many of whom come from Somalia.
"Silent Scream is an amazingly brave and accomplished piece of work," says Hewlett, "highlighting the myths and misconceptions that appear to justify the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Since making the film, the initially reticent, young women have been invited to speak publicly, lead Child Protection sessions on FGM for teachers at primary schools and they have been invited to present their work to local councillors."
For Hassan and her fellow filmmakers, First Light is a unique opportunity. How happy are they to be nominated? "Ecstatic, for our work to be recognised is just the icing on the cake," she says. "Our aim was to raise awareness about FGM and the First Light funding helped us take our message to a wider audience, but to be nominated for such a prestigious award is just a great honour."
And it's a genuine chance for youngsters to take that next step into the professional industry too, with support coming from PR companies, YouTube and other film production companies to movie stars like Kate Winslet and Daniel Craig.
Visit www.firstlightonline.co.uk to find out more about the films and the scheme. You might just be seeing the work of a future BAFTA winner.
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