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Man who keeps 100 birds in his flat wins Marlene top film award

PUBLISHED: 19:18 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:59 05 October 2010

FILM-maker Marlene Schiott Rasmussen has won a prestigious prize for her documentary about the bird man of East London’—a pensioner who keeps 100 birds in his council flat. Marlene saw off stiff competition from 600 rivals with her first project to win this year’s London Short Film Festival award for her documentary Ground Floor Right

By Allie Anderson

FILM-maker Marlene Schiott Rasmussen has won a prestigious prize for her documentary about the bird man of East London’—a pensioner who keeps 100 birds in his council flat.

Marlene saw off stiff competition from 600 rivals with her first project to win this year’s London Short Film Festival award for her documentary Ground Floor Right.

It is about 65-year-old Fang’ who lives in a small flat in a tower block alongside his avian companions.

“I wanted to make people look through Fang’s eyes—to see the beauty of what’s going on in his council flat,” said Marlene.

“I’ve seen too many films and documentaries where people who live differently are asked to explain, or where the whole premise is to fix the problem.”

Her choice of subject was driven by a desire to make people curious rather than scornful of Fang’s living arrangements.

“It almost became an obsession how complex a story I could squeeze into as few minutes as possible,” she added.

“But it’s all been worth it—it feels lovely having won the award. I hope this will help me get more projects off the ground.”

The 13 shortlisted entries in the competition were screened at a ceremony at the Roxy in London Bridge before BBC London’s Robert Elms announced Marlene the winner and handed her the award and £750.

The self-taught film-maker from Bethnal Green, in London’s East End, is now working on a project about two tower blocks being demolished. She is also got a film in the pipeline about a Malaysian woman in the East End who works as a cleaner for top celebrities.


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