Magazine article Variety

South-Central L.A. Gets Brit Spotlight

Magazine article Variety

South-Central L.A. Gets Brit Spotlight

Article excerpt

The Britannia Awards on Oct. 27 honoring Matt Damon, Dick Van Dyke, Ava DuVernay, Claire Foy and Kenneth Branagh is the very public face of BAFTA Los Angeles. The org also recently announced a partnership with IGN Entertainment, which will exclusively livestream the glitzy event to viewers across the globe.

But behind the glamorous ceremony lies an equally important aspect: the day-to-day, gritty hard work of organizing and running its year-round programs of learning events and inner city outreach initiatives which include everything from workshops and master-classes to scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the U.K., U.S. and Asia.

"At its core, BAFTA is an educational non-profit, and the outreach program in L.A. is a big part of what we do behind the scenes and it's been going for 12 years now," says Chantal Rickards, CEO of BAFTA L.A. "We began with a weekend screening event in a park in South-Central [L.A.], and we'd bring down a big screen, a taco truck and popcorn machines, but it was considered to be a fairly scary proposition back then, as there was a lot of crime locally. In fact, BAFTA was part of the negotiations between parks and rec and the local gangs when we proposed the program, to help make the park a more family-friendly, crime-free zone, and it became a big success."

So much so, that the organization didn't hold the screenings this summer as they had been taken over by the local authorities. "But clearly it was a totally novel idea to begin with, especially the idea of plummy Brits heading down to South-Central to try and teach kids about film and the arts," she says.

"BAFTA does 1,000 hours of community outreach in the area, and many members, including Jason Isaacs and [makeup artist] Donald Mowat volunteer their time to help run various afterschool TV and film programs for what we feel is an under-served community.

"These are all extremely well-attended, and we know that they're very effective in teaching the kids how to tell a story, how to use a camera, how to work with props and how to work with makeup and hair, and so on. And the result is that they also grow in confidence, the truancy rates are lower, and they learn basic skills. …

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