This review was originally written for an AHRC/Radio 3 proposal. (I’ve added a few extra words to the 300 word limit I was given.)
Last week I attended a showcase of films made by 12 young people from Bristol, all taking part in a UK Film Council scheme which aims to support Black and minority ethnic talent to enter the film & TV industries. Work screened was made over the past nine months, half way through their scheme.
The films were a mixture of very strong productions, through to looser works in progress, but they all showed a talent for filmmaking that none of the audience could deny. One of my favourites was a documentary about First Responders in rural Devon – members of the community trained to respond to emergency calls before the ambulance crews could reach such isolated areas. It was well made with a fascinating story, everything a good documentary requires.
One of the films I found so shocking I still don’t really know what I think about it. A short film called ‘Test’, set in a school exam situation containing just two teenagers. When the teacher momentarily has to leave the room, the boy bullies the girl to see her answers. The shock value was not only that their acting was so powerful the violence sent a chill down my spine, but I was also taken aback for the representation of the characters – the remorseless evil boy perpetrator was black and the girl victim was white.
In the discussion following the screening the audience was told the film was based on a true story, and that the original boy was not black, but the actor was chosen simply because he was by far the best at the audition. In this supposed post-racial Obama era, I’m still not sure whether this film symbolises the future of race representation in filmmaking, or the past. The future, where race shouldn’t always be an issue, or the past, where race representation is full of stereotypes and can’t be ignored?
An entertaining and thought-provoking event.