17-year-old Carlon Knight of Antigua didn’t have to think hard to decide on the topic for the film he was making at the oneminutesjr. Barbados workshop back in 2009. He wanted to focus on the problem of absent fathers, an issue that affects many young people in his community. “The role of the father is not emphasized. A lot of fathers tend not to be there through the entirety of their child’s life. In order for a child to grow up in a normal healthy environment, both parents need to be present and active in the child’s life,” explained Carlon. His film, “Dear Dad,” features a poem written by a boy to his father.
His strong viewpoint turned out to be a winning one. “Dear Dad” has just won one of three OneMinutesJr. Awards given by the One Minutes Foundation and UNICEF. The awards are given in three categories – (Self)-Portrait, Inside Out and One Minute of Freedom. “Dear Dad” won the (Self)-Portrait category, sharing honors with “I Am Alone Now” by Ruth Henry (17, Barbados) in the Inside Out category and “On the Last Drop” by Tolib Homitov (Tajikistan) for the category of One Minute of Freedom.
The online awards were announced on 10 November at www.theoneminutesjr.org. Each category had 5 finalists, selected from a pool of 307 eligible videos produced during UNICEF- and One Minutes-sponsored workshops or as individual entries. The oneminutesjr. is an international, arts-based initiative that gives 12-20 year-old youth, especially those who are underprivileged or marginalised, the opportunity to have their voices heard and to share their ideas, dreams, fascinations, anxieties and viewpoints on the world.
Film subjects inspired by first-hand experience
Carlon’s film was inspired by his own life. “It is an issue that has impacted me personally,” Carlon explained. “I myself have grown up without a father and it’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life… It was really emotional…in some respects I felt I was vulnerable putting a story like that out there. It was for me a very touching experience. Being able to share my story…and the story of a number of individuals like myself, it had a very significant impact on me and I hope the message was really clear.”
Ruth Henry also sought to express visually what many teenagers in her community are going through – the feeling of being alone, not fitting in and unhappy. She wrote the poem that serves as the narration for the video and wanted a jungle-like atmosphere to show a place easy to get lost in.
Tolib Homitov’s film was made during a workshop in Tajikistan that focused on the theme “Water for Life.” In his film, foreboding music plays as dozens of children form a line at a massive water tank, reminding people how important water is.
The five films nominated for (Self)-Portrait were “Mama” by Wolf Artem (Ukraine), “Dear Dad” by Carlon Knight (Antigua), “Let the Past be the Past” by Swaba Tumusiime (Uganda), “The Gap” by Chris Ndamagye (Uganda) and “Greetings from Kosovo” by Suada Jahirovic (Kosovo). The films nominated for Inside-out were “Taim Nogut” by Louisah Enos (Papua New Guinea), “Pride” by Jesse Russell (USA), “Paper Wings” by Nargiz Zeynalova (Azerbaijan), “Welcome” by Nikita Wade (Barbados) and “I Am Alone Now” by Ruth Henry (Barbados). The films nominated for One Minute of Freedom were “Focus” by Ryan Forde (Guyana), “Hanoi Night” by Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Hà (Vietnam), “Wailea River” by Epironi Silimanabure Tulele (Fiji), “It Happened to Me” by Melania Dikoulia (Fiji) and “On the Last Drop” by Tolib Homitov (Tajikistan).
The oneminutesjr. was launched in 2002 by the One Minutes Foundation, UNICEF and the European Cultural Foundation as a way to equip the young filmmakers with the fundamental skill of self-expression that is needed to participate fully in society.
A humbling experience and a goal for the future
For Carlon, being nominated for the award was a humbling experience. “When I made the video, I wasn’t expecting to be nominated. It was more about the opportunity to expose an issue I felt passionate about in a very personal and emotional way,” he revealed. “When you see all the videos made from around the world, I’m very touched that my message was one that resonated with others.”
Carlon and the other winners will receive a JVC Handcam along with their award. Carlon hopes to use his camera as he continues to address social issues. “I want to thank the Oneminutesjr. and UNICEF for giving young people a voice to express things that are important to them,” he said. “I’m very grateful. My goal in life is to become a social activist in this and other issues…this gives me inspiration to continue.”