Childhood friends launch their first Their Story Film Festival in Kilburn

Isotta Reichenbach and Ellie O’Donnell founders of theirstoryfilms.co.uk

Isotta Reichenbach and Ellie O'Donnell founders of theirstoryfilms.co.uk - Credit: Polly Hancock

Two childhood friends who met for coffee during lockdown with the same idea to help the community held their first film festival in Kilburn.

Isotta Reichenbach and Ellie O’Donnell, founders of Their Story, took over the Granville Centre on July 31, for their first festival which included eight films made by locals  and one of their own.

Guests were invited to vote for their favourite and entertainment was on hand with music, food and a stall selling t-shirts.

The event included a panel discussion involving each film maker with tips, advice and tales about their own experiences.

Their Story hosted a panel for film makers to answer questions

Their Story hosted a panel for film makers to answer questions - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Ellie, who lives in Kilburn, said: "We started filming in the 2020 lockdown. We met after I lost my job and I knew I wanted to do something about the area.


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"So we had a social distanced meeting and talked about reporting about the area, celebrating it, or making light of issues and she said she was thinking the same thing and here we are today."

The pair soon started getting commissions, including one from the Queen's Park Community Council which they showcased at the festival - Empowering Communities.

Film makers Lauren Kambamba and Tulula Sofitsi Docherty at Their Story Film Festival in Kilburn

Film makers Lauren Kambamba and Tulula Sofitsi Docherty at Their Story Film Festival in Kilburn - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

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They also set up a training programme where three young filmmakers, Clelia Vigorelli, Nellie Khossous, and Lauren Kambamba became 'Film Fellows' and were given £150 each to do with as they needed, be it for equipment, editing help or simple advice.

"We got a bit of funding and instead of spending it on ourselves we wanted to give it to other people. We're not going to make any money from it so we wanted to give something back," she added.

Isotta, who lives in Queen's Park, said: "We produced most of the films but the idea was that we would pass on any knowledge or any money we had, a constant sharing chain.

"We live nearby and we both moved back to the area after doing other things. We were both each other's life-line during Covid."

Clelia Vigoretti, picked up two awards for her film Mayflies, about three teenagers who run away from school for the day - Best creative film, and best performer.

The 19-year-old Westminster Academy pupil stressed her film was fictional adding: "The evening was great. Everyone deserved to win, everybody's films were very special." 

Most heartfelt film went to 23-year-old Tulula Sofitsi Docherty about her journey to reconnect with her Greek grandma, overcoming the physical distance separating them using FaceTime and the lifelong language barrier between them.

Best Cinematography went to Tamsin Nathan's film challenging the perception of young offenders with T.O.Y/The Other Youth, which was funded by the London Borough of Cultures Programme for Brent 2020.

Other artists who showcased films included Warren Reilly, curator of Fashioning our History, who showed a trailer of the project and a short interview with him conducted by Their Story co-founder, Isotta.

Film Fellow Lauren, 22, set up a charity linking up all those from the Cote D'Ivoire in Africa who live in London after meeting her friend Chris at 16, who "found it hard to find his culture" and her film The Visionary Tribe EP1 is born of that. 

In 2015 she was working in Ida Restaurant, owned by Isotta's mother.

Lauren added: "Isotta said: 'You're really creative, why don't you do this.' It's been a journey, it's been amazing. Both mentors have been the biggest supporters."

Nellie, whose film "Nowruz" focussed on London's Iranian community as they prepared for the Persian New Year under lockdown, added: "It''s nice to meet people who live nearby and bounce ideas."

She said filming took six days and editing "a while longer". 

Ashantee Mykoo, from Queen's Park and her partner Filly T, from Maida Vale at Their Story Film Festival

Ashantee Mykoo, from Queen's Park and her partner Filly T, from Maida Vale at Their Story Film Festival - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Ashantee Mykoo, from Queen's Park and her partner Filly T, from Maida Vale, were selling t-shirts they made from recycled material. 

The artists collect people's unwanted clothes and send it on to Uganda, Ghana,Eritrea, Kenya and Ethiopia.

"It's extremely important," Ashantee said. "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Ellie, who got Covid in July despite being double vaccinated, said: "I was really ill so we split everything with what I could do and what Isotta could do.

"It went really well."

"On the night a lot of our friends volunteered," Isotta added. "We got a really good response. One friend told us that this is what community spaces should look like."

Carl Blackburn, chief exec of the South Kilburn Trust, who run the Granville, said: "This is the first year of the festival show case, short films made by local young people.

"We've been overwhelmed with the response. We want to make this a regular event as there is so much local talent and we are into empowering people."

To learn more about Their Story visit www.theirstoryfilms.co.uk

To find out how to donate your clothes call 07946194460


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