Windrush Caribbean Film Festival launches Paulette Wilson Award

A report by Alannah Francis for The Voice.

The virtual event will take place 17 October – 8 November

THE WINDRUSH Caribbean Film Festival will honour campaigner Paulette Wilson with the launch of an award in her memory at this year’s inaugural event.

The Paulette Wilson Windrush Award, named after the prominent activist who was wrongly detained by the Home Office, went on to become one of the faces of the Windrush scandal justice campaign and died in July, will be given to an individual who has been instrumental in advancing the narrative to achieve justice for the Windrush generation. 

“To see her honoured in this way is truly a wonderful legacy for her to have left”

Natalie Barnes, Paulette Wilson’s daughter

“We’re thrilled and I know my mother would be too, to have this prestigious award named after her,” said Natalie Barnes, Wilson’s daughter. “My mother was a humble woman but she was passionate about seeking justice for everyone caught up in the Windrush scandal. To see her honoured in this way is truly a wonderful legacy for her to have left.”

On Tuesday, 29 September, dozens joined the virtual launch of the Inaugural Windrush Caribbean Film Festival (WCFF).

The launch opened with a Q&A with Windrush campaigner Dr Patrick Vernon OBE, and two of the founders of the festival, award-winning film producer Frances-Anne Solomon, and director of Recognize Black Heritage and Culture, Garry Stewart as host.

Vernon, co-author of 100 Great Black Britons, said: “The timing of this festival in the context of the official recognition of Windrush Day and the ongoing plight of the victims of the Windrush scandal is important to record, share and celebrate this history. The festival has the potential to promote this legacy.”

“It was fantastic to see our audience join us for the first WCFF. This only confirms the need for an important festival like ours, and why its educational message at its heart is so important,” said Stewart.

The festival is the brainchild of Solomon, whose award-winning film HERO, inspired by WW2 veteran and Windrush Ulric Cross, toured the UK to critical acclaim in 2019.

‘Our stories will be told by us’

Solomon also spoke about the need for the festival and the impact she hoped it would have. “We are thrilled that the media launch brought together people who were so passionate to know that finally, our stories will be told by us and to see the tremendous power of unbiased history and films and how they’re shaping our society and the next generations. In the upcoming months, we look forward to growing our community and sharing these stories across the UK,” she said.

During the launch, tributes were also paid to Guyanese author and film maker Michael Gilkes who died of COVID-19 in April. His son Mark, and his friend and colleague Christopher Laird remembered him and his contributions to Caribbean film, ahead of the screening of his film, Sargasso.

WCFF will take place over six days from 17 October – 8 November. The digital festival will include screenings, discussions and master classes. Each screening event will also feature a Q&A with a panel of experts. Under various themes including race immigration and social justice, the festival will celebrate the contributions and impact of the Windrush generation on life in the UK today.

Windrush archival short The Great Black British Invasion and Caribbean Skin, African Identity by Mandisa Pantin are among the films that will be screened on the opening night.

WCFF is sponsored by Solomon’s Caribbean Tales Media Group, and is led by a core team including Stewart, Joy Coker of Alt-Africa Magazine as lead programmer, and Patricia Hamzahee of Integriti Capital, with support from The Funding Network and Unison alongside a raft of community supporters from across the UK. 

To find out more about the festival and to register, click here.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s