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Haringey Community Press

Tottenham filmmaker wins UNICEF Innocenti film award

Hero for Tottenham filmmaker wins UNICEF Innocenti film award
Being Someone Else Credit: Øyvind Aamli
By Luchia Robinson 11 December 2021

Tottenham-based writer and director Øyvind Aamli has won an Iris Award at the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival 2021 for the documentary film Being Someone Else.

The Florence-based festival, which took place in October, celebrates the best global films that depict what it means to be a child today. Being Someone Else won ‘Best Film’ in the open non-fiction category.

The film follows a 13-year-old preparing for Comic Con and reflecting on the impact of their disability. Stemming from Øyvind’s personal experience of not fitting in at school, the film deals with themes of belonging, growing up, and neurodiversity.

The international jury noted Being Someone Else’s “intimate and fresh perspective on understanding children with autism.”

The film explores the matter of school exclusions, which at the time of researching the film, saw rates of children with autism being excluded from English schools rise by 60% between 2011 and 2016.

Øyvind said: “I think school exclusions is a very difficult subject. The media mentions it every now and again, but we rarely hear the story from the point of view of the person it affects the most.

The sad part is that many of these kids end up as outsiders, and misunderstood for the rest of their lives. Being kicked out of school is a huge trauma.

“Not only do young people like Arlo [who stars in Being Someone Else] need to be in school but we need young people like Arlo to be part [of ] the wider society. Understanding and respecting one another is one of the most important skills. How can we learn that when we don’t allow non-neurotypical kids to learn with neurotypical kids?”

Thirty-eight films from 29 countries were showcased at the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival, nine of which won an Iris Award.

Fayaz King, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive director of field results and innovation, said: “Through this festival, we set out to harness the power of great filmmaking to captivate, to inspire and to entertain, and, to make a space for dialogue between filmmakers and advocates. These films demand us to take notice, to reflect, and to act.”

Øyvind said: “It was a huge honour to win the Iris Award for best non-fiction film at UNICEF Innocenti.

“UNICEF is so important globally when it comes to children’s rights, so to get their stamp of approval was important. As an emerging documentary filmmaker, winning an award is a real encouragement and will help me move forward promoting this film and developing more projects.”

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