Filmmaking graduate's documentary reaches final three for Student BAFTAs

Issue date: 31 May 2018

Lindsey Parietti filming

A documentary made by a UWE Bristol graduate has made it to the finals of the 2018 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Student Film Awards. Lindsey Parietti's Blood Island is one of only three finalists in the Awards' Documentary category. Two other films made by the University's graduates were selected for the long list, following hundreds of submissions worldwide.

Lindsey, who graduated with a master's degree in wildlife filmmaking last year, spent just two and a half days in Liberia to shoot the 12-minute film and devoted weeks of her time editing it.

Her documentary tells the story of chimpanzees that underwent testing by the New York Blood Center in an effort to develop vaccines for hepatitis and other diseases. After three decades of experimenting, the organisation ended its research in 2007. But before leaving Liberia, it transported the remaining chimps, which were raised in captivity and infected with disease, to remote islands in the West African country.

“I'm inspired by stranger-than-fiction true stories and social justice causes, so when I heard about the blood research chimps in Liberia, I was completely fascinated and knew it was a story that had to be told,” said Lindsey, who worked for almost 10 years as a print and video journalist before studying for her MA at the University.

The film features a former lab worker, who initially joined forces with colleagues to take care of the chimps, providing them with food paid for out of his own pocket, and regularly checking up on them.

“What was really lucky was that I found such compelling human characters along the way. It's their complicated relationship with the chimpanzees that has turned a dark story into one of survival, redemption and maybe even love,” said Lindsey.

The filmmaker said the filming conditions were challenging, given the short filming period available. High levels of humidity also caused the cameras to malfunction on the first day.

The BAFTA Student Film ceremony is to take place on 29 June in Los Angeles. One winner will be announced in each of the three categories, comprising Animation, Documentary, and Live Action films.

“For me, becoming a BAFTA finalist was really surprising! I've poured a year of my life into the film and it's really special when anyone finds Blood Island and the story of the chimps compelling,” said Lindsey.

The long list for the Awards, which contained 60 films, also included two documentaries made by UWE Bristol filmmaking graduates. Stephen Matter's Nesting With the Devil, and Gunjan Menon's The Firefox Guardian featured among 60 films shortlisted from 469 submissions worldwide.

This is the second year that the Awards have been opened up globally. Last year, UWE Bristol was shortlisted for two films in the Documentary category.

Peter Venn, who is programme leader on the MA Wildlife Filmmaking programme, said: “We're thrilled that Lindsey has reached the final for a BAFTA. Students on our filmmaking courses benefit from our links to the BBC Natural History Unit and other TV production companies in Bristol. This, along with access to our brand new industry standard facilities for film making, animation and photography, means they are in a good position to hone their skills and learn from the professionals.”

To watch Lindsey Parietti's film Blood Island, click here.

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