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Young asylum seekers win film award in Portsmouth

A team of young asylum seekers has won the ‘Spirit of DVMISSION’ Award at the DVMISSION Film Festival for their film The Diamond Chronicles. They met the challenge of making a film within 48 hours, which was showcased alongside other competition entries at a glittering gala screening and awards ceremony held at the Wedgewood Rooms.

The 2023 DVMISSION 48 Hour Film Challenge celebrated its 18th birthday by inviting challengers to dive into their immersive story-world “Things to Come” for the film screenings at the gala event. Drama and Performance, and Musical Theatre students from the University of Portsmouth performed on stage.

Prior to making a film in 48 hours, each group of filmmakers is given a line of dialogue, a title and a genre to make a 2-minute film. They also needed to include an alien or robot in the film!

The young asylum-seekers, who called themselves ‘Shadow of the Mountain’, were Jacqueline Lopez, Yambou Mohammad, Graciela Bilaños, Norman Lopez, Hazzell Rodriguez and Rodrigo Bolaños. The group were facilitated by John Ashlin, Portsmouth City of Santuary’s Action Asylum project leader, who runs volunteering activities for asylum seekers in the City of Portsmouth. The group were mentored by Ritah Anastacia Namaganda, a PhD Film and Television student from the School of Film, Media and Communications at the University of Portsmouth.

Ritah explained that “all the volunteers in the group were newbie filmmakers and it was thrilling to work alongside them as a mentor and creative consultant. The most exciting thing for them was learning about the possibilities of film and where it could take them – from the brainstorming session to scripting and storyboarding, and then running around locations and doing whatever it takes to bring the film to life. The best part for me was how we navigated the language barrier during production and were still able to communicate effectively with each other – that was fun!”

John said “I was impressed with how quickly they self-organised into a film production team, carrying out varied roles with passion and dedication. I was impressed with how the technical aspects of shorting a film seem to come so intuitively to them. We have the desire to shoot another film together in the future, so we’re on the lookout for the right platform or opportunity.”

At the screening event, Rita went on stage to collect the award. “Receiving the award on behalf of the team was the best experience I have had, I could see the tremendous growth and passion each of them had” said Ritah.

The judges’ comments that accompanied the award were “good camera moves, the story was tense in places and good choice of music that helped build the atmosphere. Great dying!”

Watch their film – The Diamond Chronicles

DVMISSION is sponsored by Creative Network South, the University of Portsmouth, and Camera Crate.

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Robinson.