Limelight awards ready to name winners of 240 hopeful young film-makers
- Credit: Archant
Munsur Ali’s mission in life is helping youngsters follow his own path to get into the glitzy world of film production.
He is turning London’s East End into a ‘mini Hollywood’ next month when movie-makers from all over Britain and abroad turn up at the Troxy venue for his Limelight awards.
The 35-year-old former college drop-out who grew up around the streets of Aldgate—where he still lives—launched his awards charity six years ago to open the door for struggling enthusiasts to break into the Big Screen world like he did.
It is the UK’s largest independent short film awards ceremony which specifically identifies emerging talent.
The annual red carpet, paparazzi-covered gala with stage cabaret is at the former art deco cinema in Commercial Road on June 14 with 500 movie-makers, celebrities and media personalities—tickets are still up for grabs.
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The 240 submissions have been ‘edited’ down to a shortlist of 52 nominations for 13 categories, plus ‘best film of the night’ which gets a £10,000 production award.
The aim is giving a helping hand to those struggling like Munsur did to get into the movies with the odds stacked against them.
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“I didn’t do too well at GCSE,” he explains. “At 17, I was confused and couldn’t commit to A-level, so I dropped out in the second year.”
However, going to the cinema a lot as a teenager gave him his inspiration.
“I started questioning the message and point-of-view from Hollywood films,” he added.
“Rather than moan, I thought it would be better to have a say in films, to have a voice, so I got involved.”
Munsur learned film and photography at Epping Forest College. He had to get out of the East End because it was “too easy to socialise instead of studying”.
It was the turning point of his life. He went on to a Film and Broadcast BA at London Met University in Whitechapel and now runs a small, successful studio in Limehouse with a string of short films under his belt.
His latest, titled ‘Last Night’, is an encounter between a City banker and an East End prostitute talking about their different worlds.
Munsur got around the problem of getting his films on the Big Screen by using the small screen of the Internet. He is about to launch an online web TV channel with a bank of 1,200 short films where subscribers can download video on demand.
The former Sir John Cass pupil is now organising his sixth annual Limelight awards.
“I started the awards because I felt there wasn’t enough being done to help up-and-coming film-makers,” he says.
“I aimed at London producers at first. But within our first year we received submissions from all over the country and abroad—word got around via the Internet.”
The idea behind the awards is to “identify and celebrate” emerging talent who find it difficult making contacts in the industry, knowing what equipment to use and how to raise finance to make films.
The two-hour ceremony is compared by Kat from Choice FM and MTV, with a cabaret followed by networking and an ‘after party’ session to close the night with a DJ spinning records while revellers hit the dance floor.
Previous hosts include Konnie Huq from ‘Blue Peter’ and last year’s Ameet Chana from ‘EastEnders’.
The independent panel of judges—BBC Asian Network’s Nadia Ali, London Met University media head Peter Hewitt and photography director Lorenzo Levrini—have now made their selections. Munsur is still in the dark, however.
“I don’t know who the winners are,” he insists. “The envelopes are sealed—we’ll find out on the night.”