Windrush Caribbean Film Awards 2023 was all about celebrating legacy as Caribbean personalities, VIPs and filmmakers converged at London’s Genesis Cinema in early July.
Veteran actress, Judith Jacob, hosted the awards, which was the culmination of this year’s month-long 4th annual Windrush Caribbean Film Festival, which featured cinema screenings across Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, Newport and London.
“It is our purpose and mission like our Windrush ancestors before us to keep pushing boundaries and breaking down doors.”
Caribbean filmmakers and pillars of the community graced the Windrush Caribbean Film Awards red carpet event. Actor Rudolph Walker, best known as Patrick Trueman in BBC’s long running soap EastEnders, and broadcaster Alex Pascall both received the Paulette Wilson justice award for their long-standing work in the community. The award is named posthumously after the Windrush campaigner who fought tirelessly against deportation to Jamaica, helping to bring the Windrush scandal to national attention in 2016.
This year’s winners are well deserving of the award. Rudolph began acting at the age of eight and left his birthplace Trinidad to move to the UK in 1960. By the 1970s, he was well known as one of the first Black actors regularly seen on television screens. Rudolph also set up The Rudolph Walker Foundation in 2009, which helps disadvantaged youth find careers in the arts through inspirational role models and positive activities. He received a CBE for services to drama and charity in 2020.
Alex Pascall was the host of Black Londoners, the first Black daily show in mainstream British broadcasting which ran for 14 years on BBC Radio London from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. He played a huge role in setting up The Voice newspaper in 1982 and was chairman of the Notting Hill Carnival in 1984. In 1996 he received an OBE for services to community relations.
Adjani Salmon was the deserving winner of the inaugural Menelik Shabazz legacy award (in partnership with Alt A Review). This award was named after the Barbadian filmmaker who died in June 2021 and is considered one of the godfathers of Black British cinema. Shabazz’s body of work includes “Burning an Illusion”, “The Story of Lovers Rock” and “Step Forward Youth”. Last year, Adjani received a BAFTA and a Royal Television Society award for his breakthrough comedy “Dreaming Whilst Black”.
Other winning categories included best short film won by director Aaron James Robertson for “Rea’s Men” (starring Josette Simon), best documentary won by director Gavin Porter for “The Spirit Runs Deep”, and best breakout film won by director Nadine O’Mahony for “Rushed” (starring Cherelle Skeete).
The award night was filled with many noteworthy highlights, including Singer Leee John, of Imagination fame, introducing his documentary short film “I Love St Lucia”, Croydon Poet Laureate Shaniqua Benjamin giving a powerful performance of her Windrush inspired poetry set. Broadcaster Dotun Adebayo, actor Brian Bovell and comedian Eddie Kadi also gave a wonderful tribute to Menelik Shabazz in a moving short film.
In her closing remarks, Co-founder of the Windrush Caribbean Film Festival and CEO of Caribbean Tales, Frances Anne Solomon said: “It is our purpose and mission like our Windrush ancestors before us to keep pushing boundaries and breaking down doors. Film, music and art are mediums through which we share our lives, connect with our community and the world. They are how we leave our legacy for generations to come so that they know who we were.”