Bethnal Green film-maker wins Open City Docs award with first film

An aspiring documentary-maker from Bethnal Green has won an award with her first film at London’s biggest documentary festival.

Maha Taki, who lives off Columbia Road, won first prize at the London Open City Docs festival which was held at University College London for her first short documentary, “On The Bench”.

Ms Taki said she would take encouragement from her success, and that the �500 prize money would enable her to purchase equipment with which to further advance her career.

She commented; “It’s really encouraging to have made your first documenatry and feel like you have got something out of it, and the mmoney will be a really useful contribution to a new camera.”

The film focuses on a group of men from East London who meet daily in their local park to while away the hours and enjoy one another’s company. It is a humorous yet poignant illustration of growing old in the East End, and the friendships which can be forged in communities.

It was shot in the autumn, and was the first film Ms Taki made during a documentary and ethnographic film-making course at UCL.

She explained: “One day I just went down to the park with my camera, and the men were so charming that I kept going back. I really liked the sense of community they portrayed - Columbia Road is so well-known, but those old gentleman had been living in the area for 60 years.”

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She continued: “I was lucky because I found these really good, charming characters, and I think a lot of people fell in love with them when they watched them on the screen.”

Ms Taki is now working part time for the BBC, and hopes to continue developing her career as a documentary-maker.