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RECAP: WCFF 2024 Closing Night and Awards

Embargoed until 6.00pm 30 June 2024

30 June 20244

LONDON

Windrush Caribbean Film Festival’s 2024 prestigious awardees named

Veteran activist Dawn Hill CBE, receives the Paulette Wilson Justice Award and award winning journalist, Nadine White, is given the Menelik Shabazz Award for up-and-coming Black British filmmakers.

The honours will be presented at the Fifth Windrush Caribbean Film Festival’s (WCFF) Closing Ceremony at The Ritzy in Brixton today. (30 June 2024) 

Community stalwart, Dawn Hill CBE receives the Paulette Wilson Justice Award.  Dawn is honoured for her sterling work within the community which spans over four decades. Arguably, one of her major achievements is her staunch leadership in setting up free legal clinics to secure justice for those victimised by the Windrush scandal when she was Chair of Black Cultural Archives.  

Following the death of Windrush campaigner Paulette Wilson the Windrush Caribbean Film Festival created the Paulet Wilson Justice Award in honour of Paulette’s tireless fight against deportation to Jamaica and helping to bring the Windrush scandal to national attention in 2016 following her own personal battle.  

Ansel Wong, Director of WCFF, said “Dawn is Pioneer, Matriarch and Activist all rolled into one. She transcended all barriers with her indomitable spirit and determination to make change. Quietly but robust in her intervention, charming in her championing of her community and assured engaging with power brokers at every level of society. Dawn has stood her ground no matter who she comes in contact with. She is an icon of our Caribbean Diaspora. There can be no worthier recipient for this year’s Paulette Wilson Justice Award!

Multiple award winning journalist Nadine White, the Independent newspaper’s Race Correspondent, who became a first-time filmmaker in 2023 with her lauded documentary Barrel Children: The Families Windrush Left Behind, her moving examination of Caribbean children left behind by their parents who left them to help rebuild Britain after WWII. Nadine receives WCFF’s Menelik Shabazz Award given to an up-and-coming British filmmaker of Caribbean heritage.  This award is sponsored by WCFF media partner www.alt-africa.com, the luxury bespoke Arts & Culture print and online going out guide celebrating diversity and inclusion in the creative industries.

Joy Coker, Publisher and Founding Editor of Alt-africa, says “Menelik’s work was about representation and speaking truth to power. He brought important stories to our attention that might have been buried if he followed the status quo. Like Menelik, Nadine’s moving film was powerful storytelling that gives voice to the less represented.”

Nadine was also the inaugural recipient of the Paulette Wilson Justice Award in 2020. She shared the award with the Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman for their resolute reporting of the Windrush scandal.

In addition to these two special awards, WCFF is pleased to recognise films from the 30+ films screened at the 2024 Festival. The official WCFF jury voted for Returned from Janet Marrett as the Best Short Film. The Best Feature Film Award was awarded to That Great British Documentary by Joan Hillary and  Best Film was given to Fearless from director Noella Mingo.

This year’s Festival theme was Transitions & Travels: The Journey Continues with screening in Wales, Birmingham and London as well as online viewing of all films with a Festival Pass. 

WCFF marked Windrush Day with an all day screening of films here at The Ritzy with a 50% discount for over 60s and a very special outdoor screening for the Friends of Windrush Square’s Big Caribbean Lunch on 23 June.

END

NOTES TO EDITOR:

Dawn Hill CBE

Dawn Hill CBE

Dawn Hill CBE, SRN, Chartered MCIPD is former Chair of the Black Cultural Archives and Life Patron President of Mary Seacole Trust.

After receiving her degrees from LSE in Social Policy & Administration in 1973 and Industrial Relations in 1974, she had a long career in industrial relations, organisational development and human resource management within health, education and charity sectors. 

She was Chair of Black Cultural Archives from 2012 to 2022, having championed the organisation since the 1980s working with co-founder and activist Len Garrison.

Dawn received a Points of Light Award from the then Prime Minister for over 30 years of voluntary work in 2017 and a CBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list for services to Culture. 

Coming to England

Dawn (nee Franklin) Hill was born and raised in Jamaica at the time it was still a British Colony. She was one of 5 children and sadly lost her parents at the age of 12 and 15. Her Aunt Irene and Uncle Basil, well-to-do and middle class took charge of Dawn and after finishing school Junior Cambridge she was sent to England September 1956 to join the Pre-Nursing Cadet scheme – a new initiative to recruit nurses into the profession. Dawn arrived in England just before her 17th birthday, at Tilbury Docks, greeted by a representative of the British Council who travelled with her to Waterloo Station and organised her travel on to Leicester General Hospital to be under the care of Matron Miss Gertrude Prior (1950 to 1967). She attended Leicester College until 18 years old doing an A level course in Anatomy & Physiology, Dietetic cookery and English Literature. Student Nurse Training began at 18 and Dawn qualified as an SRN (State Registered Nurse) in December 1960.

Dawn had a successful nursing career working in operating theatres in London during the 60s notably at the London Chest Hospital and The National Neurology and Neurosurgery Hospital, at Queen’s Square. She was recommended and joined the Whittington Hospital North London as Superintendent of the Neurosurgical Theatres in 1968, but left after two years following the poor treatment she experienced after lodging a grievance over the grading of her post.  Dawn felt that “Something had to be done to change the way staff were treated, and how pay grades in hospitals were determined”. 

Her last post was as Senior Theatre Sister in Neurosurgery at the Brook General Hospital.

A new career Path 

Dawn joined the LSE in 1971 as a mature student of Social Administration and Policy under Professor Abel Smith and followed in 1974 with Personnel Management Industrial Relations under Lady Baroness Nancy Sear, described as ‘a rewarding time and to learn how to live in London’.  

Living in Brixton in the 1980s the important hub of black culture in London Dawn paid attention to the pressing social issues facing Black people: New Cross Fire Massacre 1981, the Police and Evidence Act 1984 and associated abuses of police power meted out against minorities; the underachievement of Black children in British Schools, the failings of the Race Relations Act 1976; discrimination in accessing housing, and a lack of representation of people of African and Caribbean heritage.   

Black Cultural Archives came into being in 1981 in response to these social issues. It is the home of British Black history and culture and stands for Equality and Justice, the only such repository in the UK, housed since 2014 in their iconic building at 1 Windrush Square in Brixton. Its mission is to promote, educate and celebrate the living experience of people of African and Caribbean communities in the UK and their tremendous contribution to society in the UK.

Over her 40 + years history of community work Dawn has founded in 1973 Rainbow Community Nursery in Hackney, been a Non-Executive Director at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, a Governor at the Evelina London Hospital School, co-founded in 1989 and chaired Blackliners – the first HIV AIDs organisation for black people at the height of the AIDs epidemic, Trustee of the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal and now President of the Mary Seacole (legacy) Trust. 

The Windrush Scandal

Dawn felt it necessary to act when the Windrush Scandal broke in 1917 in the Guardian article by Amelia Gentleman. The sheer number of people that were affected came to light- people with no papers, and linked to Home Secretary Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ Immigration Policy.

Dawn, unannounced, went in to BCA and asked staff – What are we going to do about this? Within a matter of hours, through our network and on advice from Activist Patrick Vernon we were linked to lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie who that very day came in to BCA and together we set up the very first support and Legal advice service for people affected by the Windrush scandal. BCA FoH staff and often in their own time together with volunteers accommodated on a daily basis, lawyers and journalist, and questions from the public and giving support to affected people. They staffed the  advice sessions together with volunteer paralegals doing triage before seeing a lawyer. The public advice support meetings in the Town Hall were supported by London Borough of Lambeth. BCA became the centre where all the action was happening for over a 2year period until the onset of Covid restricting one-to-one meetings. Over 200 people were supported with their Passport or Compensation claims.

The Windrush Campaigner Paulette Wilson experienced one of the worst experiences from this  Scandal and ‘hostile environment’. It is fitting that she is remembered and has this award in her name. 

We now have a Windrush National Organisation (WNO) made up of advocates representing about 19 regions in the UK. The organisation brings some of the worst cases to the Home Office’s attention for action, with some success. It is now 6 years since the Scandal and the Compensation Scheme is still not delivering and many who are affected are too scared to apply. Their 12 Point Election Ask of the next government can be viewed on their website: www.windrushnationalorganisation.com or email:windrushnationalorganisation@gmail.com 

Nadine White

Nadine White

Nadine White is a celebrated filmmaker whose debut, self-produced documentary Barrel Children: The Families Windrush Left Behind was rolled-out on limited release in UK cinemas in 2023 to critical acclaim.

A UK box-office chart hit, the film peels back the layered tales of the Caribbean youngsters who grew up away from their Windrush parents before migrating to join them in Britain.

The documentary has been hailed as “moving” by Britain’s first Black woman MP Diane Abbott and it was featured in the Windrush Caribbean Film Festival’s ‘Best of the Fest’ listings during Black History Month in October.

It is an official selection for this year’s renowned Essence Film Festival in New Orleans, USA, a foremost Stateside platform that’s dedicated to showcasing global Black stories throughout the diaspora.

Nadine is also a multi-award-winning journalist who joined The Independent as Britain’s first dedicated Race Correspondent in 2021. One of Britain’s leading Black journalists, she reports on stories around and within minoritised communities.

A former Forbes 30 Under 30 honouree, Nadine won the Paulette Wilson Windrush Award for her stellar reporting on the Windrush scandal in 2020, after becoming the first Black reporter to be shortlisted for the prestigious Paul Foot Award in its decades-long history of recognising investigative reporting. 

Nadine’s work has also been acknowledged in the UK parliament, by the British Journalism Awards and Amnesty International, the world’s leading human rights organisation, while the BBC named her as one of the individuals “making Black history now”.

Connect with Nadine

Twitter: @Nadine_Writes

Tiktok: @Nadine_Writes

Instagram: @Nadine_Writes

Linkedin: Nadine White

Email: hello.nadine.white@gmail.com

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