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About Commonwealth Shorts

Posted on 26/08/2014
By Commonwealth Foundation

Commonwealth Shorts gives emerging writers and directors an opportunity to make a film that highlights issues affecting them and their communities.
The first round of films was produced in 2013 by filmmakers from the Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Kenya and New Zealand. At the start of the project we announced an open call for short film ideas, across the Commonwealth. From 800 entries, eight ideas were selected for further development. Treatments for both drama and documentary, they explored issues of migration, indigenous rights and same-sex relationships.
We entered into an intensive process of development with the eight filmmakers. Within a year, five films were produced by local teams in each originating country, in partnership with Commonwealth Writers, B3 Media and CBA Worldview.
The filmmakers met for the first time at a private screening of the finished films in Auckland, New Zealand, in association with Documentary NZ Trust and with support from the New Zealand Film Commission. The films were premiered Bristol Encounters Film festival in the UK in September 2013.
One of the films, Auntie, made by Lisa Harewood in Barbados, has inspired the creation of the Barrel Stories Project, launched in April 2015. What started out as a small outreach component to the film has become a multi-year, cross-platform digital storytelling project that records and shares the experiences of Caribbean people who have been affected by the issue of parental separation and migration. As migration continues to be both a political and social issue, the interest in the film and project only increases. This year, Auntie has screened somewhere in the world every month, including Beijing, Trinidad and Toronto. In March there were four back to back screenings in New York. Lisa has been invited to speak at colleges and universities, where the film is being used as a teaching tool. She’s also sat on panels, spoken at literary festivals, and presented at academic conferences.
“In all this, the space in which I have been most deeply affected is in the living rooms of the people who share their ‘barrel stories’ with me. It is there that I have seen the healing that can take place by empowering someone to tell their own story”, Lisa Harewood, writer/director, Auntie.
This year we launched the second round of Commonwealth Shorts which begin their development process in July. We’ll be working with local partners in the Pacific region to produce six films from the Pacific Island States, made by new writers and directors based in Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

Meet The Filmmakers Watch The Shorts
“It’s been wonderful working with Commonwealth Writers and B3 Media, developing our local story with expertise and empathy from like-minded spirits from way across the waters. Just feeling part of a bigger international family gives the story a lovely weight."
2013 Shorts filmmaker, Oscar Kightley