Afghanistan triumph and plea for country not to be forgotten; McQueen adds another accolode with searing documentary and Bafta chair says Diversity is vital…
By Mamie Colfox
THERE was some cheer for Afghanistan and a call to action for broadcasters last night as ‘My Childhood, My Country: 20 years in Afghanistan’ won the Bafta TV Single Documentary award.
Filmmakers Phil Grabksy and Shoaib Sharifi spent 20 years following an Afghan boy, Mir, as he grew into a man. During this time, there has never been peace.
Grabsky issued an urgent warning from the winner’s podium at the Royal Festival Hall in London last night, telling people they should not forget what is happening there – even though much of the world’s media focus is elsewhere currently. “To those of you who make films, those of you that commission films, please do not forget Afghanistan,” he implored.
He went on to say “over the course of this 20 years I’ve had more than one conversation with a broadcaster internationally, who has said to me ‘Afghanistan, who cares? Our audience are not interested’. And this is after 160,000 died over the last 20 years and over two trillion dollars were spent. I don’t know how you can say ‘Afghanistan, who cares?’. So, please, don’t forget Afghanistan, do care about Afghanistan. We are very touched.”
Amongst other awards, director Steve McQueen’s ‘Uprising’, a series of progranmes about black community resistance and organisation in the 1980s, won in the Factual Series category, and in his speech Oscar winner McQueen spoke out against the privatisation of Channel 4 and reform of the BBC. “The BBC and Channel 4 bring us together, we have to hold right and fight for every inch”.
The government recently announced it is looking to privatise Channel 4 – currently it is publically owned and its advertising revenues are invested in programming, while the goverment has also outlined that it wants to axe the licence fee and find a different way of funding BBC programmes.
McQueen’s three-part documentary series, along with fellow filmmaker James Rogan, explores three key events in 1981 after the New Cross house fire which, they argue, defined race relations in the UK for a generation. The fire which was believed to have been started deliberately led to the deaths of 13 young black people – and to this day the investigation has been none the the wiser.
Nida Manzoor’s Channel 4 sitcom, ‘We Are Lady Parts’ which follows an all-female Muslim punk band as they try to make it in the music world, was nominated in three categories: Anjana Vasan was shortlisted in Female Performance in a Comedy Programme, but was trumped by Sophie Willan from ‘Alma’s Not Normal’, whilst Scripted Comedy was won by ‘Motherland’ and Emerging Talent, Fiction by Adjani Salmon for ‘Dreaming Whilst Black’, leaving Manzoor empty-handed on this occasion.
But not was all was lost after ‘We Are Lady Parts’ three wins at the Craft Awards last month. (See story link below). Although ‘Sex Education’ didn’t win in any of their two nominated categories, just hours before the awards started Ncuti Gatwa, one of its most recognisable stars, was announced as the new Doctor Who, taking over from Jodie Whittaker.
Krishnendu Majumdar, Bafta Chair, reiterated his calls for the industry to be more diverse in his opening addres (See here for Bafta Film).
He told those gathered at the RFH that “we desperately need diversity among leaders and the gate keepers who run television – at board level, heads of channels, key creatives and decision makers.”
The son of an Indian doctor, Majumdar never saw anyone like himself on TV yet carved out a career as a successful producer, running shows like ‘An Idiot Abroad’.
He explained: “There wasn’t anyone who looked like me on TV when I was growing up. Seeing is believing. It gives people the chance to more than dream.”
He also called for more change behind the camera as well and said the Britain needed to tread carefully when it came to reforming both Channel 4 and the BBC.
*The BBC posted on both Twitter and Instagram, with the caption “The future is here! Ncuti Gatwa is the Doctor. ❤️❤️➕🟦 Read all about it on the #DoctorWho website, link in bio”, accompanied by a headshot of the actor.