Filmmaking graduate wins Student BAFTA for Blood Island documentary

Issue date: 02 July 2018

UWE Bristol graduate Lindsey Parietti has won a Student BAFTA award for her nature documentary Blood Island. The film director picked up the gong at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Student Film Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Friday evening.

Lindsey, who graduated with a master's degree in wildlife filmmaking last year, said: “Being recognised by BAFTA is a huge vote of confidence and hopefully a sign that the world is ready for the kind of stories I want to tell. I could hardly believe how many people filled the Theatre at the Ace Hotel for the screening and the calibre of the other nominees sets the bar unbelievably high for emerging filmmakers!

“By far, the best part of the awards was talking to people who were moved by this insane story just the same way I was. If people watch the film and challenge themselves to reconsider our relationship with the natural world and the power we've taken over other lives, then that would be the greatest honour.

The 12-minute film tells the story of chimpanzees in Liberia, which underwent testing in a laboratory owned by the New York Blood Center, which was developing a vaccine against hepatitis. After three decades of experimenting, the organisation ended its research in 2007. But before leaving the West African country, it transported the remaining chimps, which were raised in captivity and infected with disease, to remote islands in the West African country.

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

Lindsey, who worked for almost 10 years as a print and video journalist before studying for her MA at the University, spent just two and a half days in Liberia to shoot the film and devoted weeks of her time editing it.The filmmaker said filming conditions were challenging, given the short period available. High levels of humidity also caused the cameras to malfunction on the first day.

During the ceremony, Blood Island was awarded best documentary by BAFTA voting members in the audience. The film was one of nine finalists selected from the 469 submissions received from film schools around the world.

Lindsey said: “The next step for me is to keep learning and growing as a filmmaker so that I can do justice to the stories I want to tell. I love finding these stranger-than-fiction stories, particularly around social justice issues, but they can be challenging, and it's so much easier to tune into something light at the end of the day.

“I don't want to make films only for the converted, so that means finding new ways to be creative and tackle difficult themes in entertaining ways.”

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