Pupils in running for global prize with knife crime film

A HARD-HITTING documentary about knife crime produced by a group of Lothian school pupils is in line for a worldwide film prize.

Eight third-year pupils at Knox Academy in Haddington will join five other schools from across the globe at the awards ceremony of the Panasonic Kid Witness News (KWN) 2012 Global Contest, which will be held in London next month.

The teenagers’ four-minute documentary film, Think of Life Put Down the Knife, explored the issues around young people carrying knives, and saw the pupils interview Rev Cameron Mackenzie, who spent two years in jail as a young man after stabbing a rival in a gang fight.

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He was later influenced by a spiritualist and eventually trained for the ministry. The former minister at the West Church in Haddington is now minister at the Tron Moredun and Gilmerton Church in Edinburgh.

He speaks about his troubled past in the film, as well as losing his younger brother to knife crime.

The pupils – Janina Calder-Petrie, Rebecca Cole, Owen McHugh, Eilidh Munro, Rhona Taylor, Saimah Uddin, Andrew Waddell and Caitlin Wright – also interviewed Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill for the film, as well as taking to the streets of Edinburgh and Haddington to ask residents for their opinion on the issue.

They each took on different roles for the film, ranging from interviewing to editing, with work starting on the film around November last year and finishing in February.

Rhona, 15, said: “I was actually overwhelmed when I found out we had reached the final, I was really close to tears because we worked so hard on it.

“Our old drama teacher, Mr Campbell, suggested doing the film on knife crime and we all really loved the idea. It had been in the news and we all felt quite strongly about it.”

Caitlin, 14, added: “It would be a huge achievement if we won. It’s the kind of thing you would remember for a lifetime.”

This year’s KWN Global Contest saw 718 schools from 31 countries and regions take part by submitting four to five-minute videos on the theme of ecology or communication.

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Business education teacher at Knox Academy, Colin Dempster, said the school won the UK Global Citizenship Award in the same contest last year.

He added: “I am very proud of the team, who have shown determination and commitment in the production of their documentary over this session.”

The pupils will now come face-to-face with the other finalists from China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and America at the awards ceremony in London, where they hope to be awarded the global title.

Part of the prize for reaching the final is a trip for two of the pupils to the Olympics. Rhona and Owen, along with Mr Dempster, will watch the track and field events, as well as synchronised swimming.

The awards ceremony will take place in London on August 10.

To view the six finalist videos, visit www.panasonic.net/kwn/contest2012