The Cut Film project aims to dissuade young people from smoking.
It was started by the Deborah Hutton Campaign group, a peer to peer smoking prevention charity, in memory of Vogue journalist Deborah Hutton who died of lung cancer aged 49 from smoking in her teens and early adulthood.
Riad Ahmed, 17, and Dushane Ashani Brown, 17, told East London Lines that they “didn’t have the words” to describe how excited and proud they were to have their talent recognised by being shortlisted.
Riad wrote the film from the perspective of a cigarette, acting was by Dushane. They both hope to pursue careers in the creative industries.
As part of the festival, Cut Films gave 10 schools across Hackney training in video and film so they could learn transferable skills, as well being informed about the dangers of smoking.
The Deborah Hutton charity began the Cut Film project to inform teenagers about the dangers of smoking in a way that would attract their attention. Emma Wrafter, the charity director, said: “We wanted to target teens in a way that would engage and resonate with them and film seemed like the best option.”
The key aspect of the project is that it is teenagers telling other teenagers about the health risks from smoking, rather than adults.
Dushane thinks this approach works: “I think I’d rather learn about the danger of cigarettes from people the same age as me, because I can connect to them more easily. I think as well that teenagers are more honest; they say things from the heart and believe in what they’re saying.”
All the films are available online, which Emma Wrafter hopes will give teens the chance to “share them on social networking sites with their friends, family and local community.”
Diane Abbot, MP for Hackney, has backed the project, saying: “Hackney Cut Films Competition is an important and inspiring project, which raises awareness of the dangers of smoking, peer pressure, and the shocking effects of smoking. It’s projects like this that are giving young people a voice.”
There will be an award ceremony at Hackney Picturehouse mid-July (date still to be confirmed) to celebrate the films made in Hackney.
Then on July4 the students at Hackney Community College who participated in the project will attend a national award ceremony at the headquarters of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) to find out who has won the Cut Films Festival.