A documentary about refugees fleeing a civil war was among the winners at this year’s Romford Film Festival.

Moviemakers on low budgets from east London competed with directors from all over the world for accolades at the four-day festival, which ended with a glitzy awards ceremony on Tuesday evening (May 28) at Premiere Cinemas in the Mercury Mall.     

Simon Alveranga, a 48-year-old independent documentary maker from Wanstead, was shortlisted for his work about Covid, a story called Mouse about a little boy who loses his grandfather during the pandemic. The boy discovers a mouse in his grandfather’s room and trains it as a pet.

“You also have the boy’s father during lockdown, living on top of each other,” Simon explained. “Covid was the background because it hadn’t yet been represented on screen.”

Simon, a father-of-two himself who grew up in Kilburn and studied film-making at Greenhill College in Harrow, felt that the recent pandemic was not too early yet to be on the big screen.

“It’s about a dad who doesn’t know how to connect with his son,” Simon added. “He perpetuates a relationship he had with the grandfather who never knew how to talk to him — so he doesn’t know how to talk to his own son.”

Moviemakers took part from around the globe such as Nikola Cole from Los Angeles, who co-directed Ray of Hope which won Best Documentary.

Nikola, whose work was about the civil war in Sri Lanka. told the Recorder: “We’re telling story of genocide of the Tamil people, with two people who had their faces blanked out as they still live in fear and others becoming refugees in their own country.”

Cathy Tyson, a filmmaker from north London, won the Jury prize for her film The Consequence.

The movie is about a black right-wing radio presenter speaking to a Muslim man who has just lost his daughter to an ‘honour’ killing, wrongly accusing him of murder.

Her co-producer was badly affected by the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut in 2012 when 20 children were gunned down in their classrooms along with six teachers.

“He was upset at the lack of empathy their families were receiving,” Cathy explained. “So he wrote something about it as a response.”

The film was followed by an audience Q&A where Cathy had to face “challenging questions” about the topic about unhinged behaviour.

List of winners

Best Actress - Ania Marson in Ruth

Best Actor - Ayden Croy in Old Righteous Blues

Best Supporting Actress - Chos in Teodoro

Best Supporting Actor - Simon Callow in Murder Ballads: How To Make It In Rock 'N' Roll, award sponsored by the Recorder

Best Documentary - Ray Of Hope

Best Short Film - Art

Best Animation - Scale

Best First-Time Filmmaker - Ian Bartholomew for The Sea, award sponsored by the Recorder

Best International Film - Scomparie

Best British Film - Kill Your Lover

Best Local Film - Fyre Rises, award sponsored by The Recorder

Jury Prize - The Consequence

Best Low/No Budget Film - Bin Day

Best Cinematography - Have A Good Day

Best Production Design - Burnt Flowers

Best Actor - Ayden Croy in Old Righteous Blues

Best Score - Matt Olivio in Unspeakable: Beyond The Wall of Sleep

Best Screenplay - Jamie Effros for Big George

Original Concept - Lies On The Line

Best Supporting Actor - Simon Callow in Murder Ballads: How To Make It In Rock 'N' Roll, award sponsored by the Recorder

Outstanding Contribution - Ark Pictures