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Interview with Andy Kee and Richard West

Oska Bright 2 is the world's first film festival run by, and for, people with learning disabilities. Due to take place at The Old Market in Hove on Monday 28th November, Colin Hambrook talked to committee members Andy Kee and Richard West.

Still from Donkey Spell: a lightning bolt from a lamp strikes a mouse on the left side of the image

Still from Donkey Spell, an animation made last year by Carousel in collaboration with Junk TV.

What is exciting about Oska Bright?

RW: There are no other film festivals by and for people with a learning disability, anywhere in the world. It's very important that it is recognised that we are running the festival ourselves.

AK: The committee is made up of people with a learning disability who are either into film-making or the arts. We want to promote films made by learning disabled people - films that show what we can do from our own point of view.

RW: It's important that we have control over how the films are made, rather than big film companies telling stories about learning disabled peoples' lives. It gives a sense of identity and pride to the people acting and making the films.

AK: We want to show that learning disabled people can do quality work. We have the say over what happens in the festival - from the exciting bits, like choosing the films we show - to talking about budgets.

RW: It's also important that Oska Bright is judged as arts, rather than disability. The quality of the work is important - that it inspires.

AK: Last year there were five Oska Bright awards that went out to learning disabled film-makers. There were also two trainee bursaries with Junk TV, offering the opportunity for training.

Has Oska Bright created more opportunities for learning disabled people to make films as a result of the festival last November?

RW: I'll say yes and no. We've had a good start. But we have a long way to go before big film companies or the British Film Institute will recognise people with a learning disability in film-making. People in these organisations don't understand the lives of people with a learning disability at home or in the work place.

AK: Mainstream organisations like the BFI should be thinking about including a person with a learning disability on their committee? They should be thinking about whether information is accessible? It's a long process, but we want to make these organisations aware of the importance of disability awareness training in film making.


What were some of the highlights of last year's festival?

RW: The Brighton Mob was a fun film. It was based on the true story of the Newton Brothers - a famous gang of wild west bank robbers.

AK: I think all the films have merit. Each different film character has a message for all the people who go to Oska Bright film festival. It was amazing seeing peoples' faces. This was the first time they had seen anything in film that represents their lives.

What's the next step for creating the festival at the end of this year?

AK: Finding the money for the festival is a big task. Everything we do costs money. Running any film festival means paying for support etc. So we are looking for managers in big film companies to give us support.

RW: It's very important that we are recognised by other film-makers, as artists in our own right. We want them to take on our ideas on how to make sure that film companies work together with people with learning disabilities.

There aren't enough film-makers or artists who are from the black and minority ethnic community of people with learning disability. At the moment there are only three that I know of - so we want to encourage more people to get involved in film-making.

To find out what Oska Bright 2 has in store visit carousel

Andy and Richard are also the inspiration behind Artslife - a new group that is run by professional artists with learning disabilities.

related links

Read the feature on Oska Bright 2004.