Posted by on Nov 14, 2013

Self-taught film-maker Michael Jenkins has become the first winner of a new talent award from Bristol’s Afrika Eye festival of African film with a proposal for a documentary about the use of blackened faces in English folk customs, including Padstow’s Boxing Day parade.

As his prize, 25-year-old Michael, who lives in Henbury, Bristol, gets a £400 script research and development bursary from the festival plus mentoring and production support from the competition’s judges: Karen Alexander, of the RCA; Martin Boothe, of B3 Media; Laura Marshall, MD of Icon Films, Bristol, and Afrika Eye’s co-founder Ingrid Sinclair.

The award announcement was made as the finale to a series of Afrika Eye events for emerging film talent that opened earlier this year with a South West wide call for ideas from under 26s with personal ties to Africa or a story on an African theme.

Congratulating Michael on his win, Ingrid Sinclair said: “This is the first year that we’ve run a scheme to encourage fresh South West-based talent but we have been delighted by the response. Entries came from a very broad range of people and covered a wide variety of ideas. To make the competition as fair as possible, we ran a workshop to help entrants to convert their ideas into a ‘pitch’ before picking a shortlist of five to go forward to our pitching forum, in front of exactly the types of people all film-makers need to impress if they want to get a production deal.”

She added: “Everyone who made it to the shortlist did extremely well but the idea from Michael Jenkins edged ahead as the one the judges could most clearly see getting made, screened and enjoyed by audiences.”

Unusually, Michael Jenkins is a self-taught film-maker who first picked up a video camera to shoot music videos for a rap group with which he performed.  He’s since set up 8th Sense Media with the help of enterprise training and a grant from the Prince’s Trust and now makes films for a wide range of customers while also working on another documentary idea about a black soldier in the British Army.

Michael received his award on the final day of Afrika Eye – the region’s biggest festival of films from or about Africa or which reflect the African diaspora.  It is held annually at Watershed, Harbourside, Bristol.

Other highlights of Afrika Eye 2013 included sold-out screenings of the internationally-successful new features Nairobi Half Life and Something Necessary from Kenya,; the multi-award-winning Tey (Senegal) and Death Metal Angola, (Angola), plus the world premiere of Simon Bright’s latest documentary The King and The People, director talks, exhibitions of kanga and photographs, children’s workshops and music from WOMAD artistes Mim Suleiman of Zanzibar and Abass Dodoo (Ghana).

Plans are now being made for a UK tour of some of the festival’s films, curated by Watershed in partnership with Afrika Eye.

Afrika Eye gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, the National Lottery funded Awards for All scheme, the University of the West of England and  Watershed.


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