Media All Stars – A night at the Baftas
Star rating: 4/5
Guests swanned around the Bafta building in glamorous outfits, nibbling on extravagant entrées. But unlike conventional British film awards, the guests up for recognition weren’t celebrities, but young people in care.
The awards ceremony was a culmination of a partnership between film institutions – including Bafta, Cut and Run and Yeastculture – and children’s organisations such as the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care and NCB. More than 30 children were involved in the film-making project, which took place in four London care homes between January and April.
The films focused on life in care and dealt with issues ranging from gangs to self harm. Designed, filmed and edited by the young people themselves with mentoring by professionals from the partnership organisations, they offered an insightful perspective on life in care from the bottom up. Funny, witty and original, the films challenged the stereotypes that life in care is just about negative troublemakers and distress.
In the first film, a Big Brother-inspired “diary room” gave young people the chance to talk informally about life in care. The second film was a drama about gangs, examining how young people are tempted into a life of crime by the promise of being part of a community. Apart from a couple of embarrassed giggles in some of the scenes, the acting was superb.
The third film was more of a documentary, featuring in-depth interviews with young people living in care. Tackling difficult questions with formal interviews and solid camera work, the young people explained how they wanted to be treated more like individuals by their care workers, and less like troublemakers by society.
It was clear from the quality of the productions that the young people had responded well to the film medium. Many of those in care have trouble reading and writing, but working with a camera opened up new channels for expression. Many said the project helped them make sense of their life stories, and it has been suggested that video input might be used in reviews.
All participants expressed their enthusiasm for continuing the project, but funding remains an issue.
Still, for the young people at this awards ceremony, the shows will go on. Bafta has given cameras and editing packages to each of the care homes involved in the project, ensuring their new-found skills do not go to waste. With a little more practice, the real Baftas may be just around the corner.This article appeared in the 8 May under the headline “An awarding experience”