A group of teenage film-makers from Bristol have won a prestigious Young Voices prizes at a national movie awards ceremony in London. Silent Scream is a provocative and moving drama-documentary about female genital mutilation (FGM). It was declared winner of the Young Voices 2012 award at the First Light Movies ceremony, held at the BFI, Southbank.

Watch a brief interview with two of the girls here.

The drive for the film came from the group of 27 young women themselves. In making it, they wanted to raise awareness about FGM, and tackle the myths and misunderstandings surrounding the practice. The girls also hope the film will challenge what they see as the British Government’s lack of action around what is a very serious form of child abuse. The young people involved were presented the Avon & Somerset Chief Constable’s Special Commendation at the premiere of Silent Scream, at Bristol’s Watershed Media Centre, last summer, 2011.

TV personality Alesha Dixon also attended the premiere and gave her support for the Bristol girls, involved in making the film.
One of the teenagers’ mentors, Oliver Zimmerman of Zed Productions who supported the project, said: “The courage and dignity of the teenagers involved in this film, can’t be overstated. They faced fierce opposition from some members of their own communities. Yet they were utterly determined to speak out, take action and resist the pressures put on them to keep FGM ‘hidden’. “

Through their work, other young women have felt able to talk more openly about FGM; the group has steadily increased in numbers and links with women from the community have improved and increased.

The project to produce Silent Scream was run by the charity Integrate Bristol, with media support and training from Zed Productions. Workshops were based at City Academy Bristol where the young people learned all the skills necessary to write, direct, shoot and edit their own film. Principal Gill Kelly said “we are incredibly proud of all of the girls who took part – they showed great strength in their dedication to their work. Congratulations to them all”.

In addition to winning the Young Voices award, the girls have gained huge support nationally and internationally. The singer Alesha Dixon has also visited the girls and shown her support for their work. Silent Scream has been embedded on the website of Somali model and anti-FGM campaigner Waris Dirie. It’s also been mentioned by name in the House of Lords, and has been shown at various events around in Britain and abroad.

Silent Scream was funded by the Big Lottery.