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First winner of Louis Le Prince prize announced

The first winner of the Louis Le Prince prize has been announced by the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University.

Junkanoo Talk - Rhea Storr film

A still from Rhea's proposed film. 

The Northern Film School will commission ‘experimental film’ A Protest. A Celebration, by Rhea Storr – the first person to win the prize conceived to recognise the achievements of the filmmaker who created the world’s first moving images.  

Rhea, 27 from Leeds, will have her winning film shown at the Leeds International Film Festival later this year and has won the equivalent of £1,000 in production and processing costs, access to equipment and expert mentoring.

Annabelle Pangborn, Director of the Northern Film School and one of the judges of the prize, said: “We were delighted with the response we had to the Louis Le Prince prize.  

“Applications for the prize were many and diverse, and presented a tough choice for the five members of the selection panel.  

“Rhea submitted a powerful and exciting proposal that represents her unique identity as an artist while also embracing the challenge of innovation and the materiality of analogue film.

Rhea Storr

Rhea Storr

“The decision to award Rhea the inaugural Louis Le Prince Experimental Film Prize was unanimous. We are very much looking forward to supporting her through the process of her filmmaking.”

Le Prince was an internationally recognised filmmaker – known for filming the world’s first moving images in Leeds in 1888. ‘A Protest. A Celebration’ will be shot on 16mm celluloid film – similar to the style Le Prince used.

Rhea said: “I was attracted to the prize because it will give me the resources to experiment on film with far fewer restrictions. I now have the scope to consider the ways in which film could be truly innovative with the support and experience of the Northern Film School.  

“The film will look at archive material of Leeds West Indian Carnival alongside contemporary footage, considering carnival as both a protest and a celebration. 

“I believe black culture is inadequately historicised and crowds in celebration are also crowds in protest to become visible, so I want to ask who is watching and who is being watched. 

Louis Le Prince

Louis Le Prince

“The work will consider the affirmation of culture through analysing body, gesture, collective and individual. My wider practice seeks an adequate language to speak about black identity.”

Rhea often uses both digital and 16mm filming processes and said she hopes the film will call on viewers to think about “the inherent tensions of carnival in Britain”.

The prize was open to all UK-based filmmakers and was launched at the Leeds International Film Festival in November 2017, during a day of events held at Leeds Beckett to celebrate Le Prince and the innovation of moving image.  

The events culminated in the unveiling of a historic plaque commemorating Le Prince’s achievements at Leeds Beckett’s Broadcasting Place building – the former site of Le Prince’s workshop.

Chris Fell, Director of the Leeds International Film Festival and prize judge, said: “This prize is an exciting, new annual opportunity for British filmmakers inspired by the Leeds pioneer who produced the world¹s first moving images.

“I was very impressed by the extent and variety of submissions for the first year of the prize, with its theme of innovation, and I am delighted that Rhea Storr’s unique vision with ‘A Protest, A Celebration’ has been accepted.

“I am really looking forward to presenting Rhea’s completed film as part of the 32nd Leeds International Film Festival in November.” 

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