IT’S THAT red carpet night of the year when Birmingham takes the spotlight away from London to take centre stage as the UK’s film and TV capital during the Birmingham-based Black International Film Festival (BIFF).
Stars such as Rudolph Walker, Suzanne Packer, Danny John-Jules, Lorna Gayle, Chucky Venn, Cecilia Noble and Cherrelle Skeete converged on Birmingham’s International Convention Centre for a glittering ceremony to honour the best in the business at the MViSAs – the Movie, Video and Screen Awards.
And that’s not forgetting Dawn Penn, the original queen of Reggae, who topped the bill and had everyone on their feet with her 1967 all-time hit You Don’t Love – No, No, No.
Event organiser Dean Alexander, who will next year celebrate the 10th anniversary of the MViSAs, told the hundreds of guests of his own personal struggle to attract stars away from London to the UK’s second city for these annual awards.
“If you’ve won an award here tonight then make sure you tell everyone about how you won it here in Birmingham, not London,” he said.
And he praised stars such as Rudolph Walker, Jimmy Akingbola and Hugh Quarshie, who have regularly supported his events, while also helping others just starting out on the film industry ladder.
Alexander said: “The Black International Film Festival helps to highlight a genre of film that isn’t fully accepted in mainstream Britain. Despite a wealth of outstanding black British talent, black films remain woefully under-represented.
“This is the whole point of the festival – to highlight black cinema and promote it in various means to new audiences.”
But he also had harsh words for those stars who insisted on being paid eye-watering appearance fees to turn up. He said: “As we look ahead to our 10th year, we hope some of the black actors who feel that the MViSAs is beneath them will one day grace the awards with their presence and see what an exciting and fantastic night it is.
“We are going from strength to strength with the support of the majority of the black actors in the UK and recognition as the main awards ceremony for the black film and television industry.”
This year’s MViSAs hosts Suzanne Packer, who plays Casualty’s clinical nurse manager Tess Bateman, and Danny John-Jules, who is Death in Paradise’s Dwayne Myers, co-hosted the sparkling event, as star after star came up to claim their justly-deserved awards voted for by the general public.
And entertainers such as Birmingham’s own Voice UK finalist Sasha Simone, Letisha Gordon, DTwinz, Rose Capri, Zara Sykes, Julie Graham, Ricardo Williams and Aaron James, sang their hearts out.
Mark Rogers, Birmingham City Council’s chief executive spoke of how the MViSAs was now a major part of Birmingham’s 'cultural calendar.'
The event, which was sponsored by Bottega and Hotel La Tour, also supported the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT). Charity spokesman Orin Lewis spoke of the importance of finding more African and Caribbean people to join its stem cell register.
O.T.Fagbenle, Interceptors (BBC1)
Cecilia Noble, Danny and the Human Zoo (BBC1)
BEST EMERGING TALENT:
Cherrelle Skeete, Call the Midwife (BBC1)
BEST COMEDY PERFORMANCE:
Donovan Blackwood, Top Coppers (BBC3)
BEST TV PRESENTER:
Trevor McDonald, The Mafia (ITV)
BEST LONG RUNNING DRAMA:
Holby City (BBC1)
BEST TV DRAMA:
BEST COMEDY PRODUCTION:
The Javone Prince Show (BBC2)
BEST SHORT FILM:
Beverley, an Alexander Thomas Film
BEST UK MOVIE:
Red Production Company, Danny and the Human Zoo (BBC1)
BEST FACTUAL PRODUCTION:
David Olusoga, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners (BBC2)
BEST TV CHANNEL:
WESTMORE EZEKIEL AWARD:
Steve Hollingworth, Garry Peal and events team at Birmingham City Council