Entertainment & Arts

Oscars 2019: Nominated short tells of black teen who 'made friends with monsters'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWatch Will Gompertz's interview with Cornelius Walker

The subject of an Oscar-nominated short film about a boy from Peckham who took drastic measures to fit in on an Essex estate blighted by racism said making it was "the hardest thing he's done".

"I didn't want to sit in front of that camera and be vulnerable," Cornelius Walker told the BBC's Will Gompertz.

Black Sheep sees Walker talking openly about his childhood experiences.

"I wanted to help people who've been through what I've been through," said the 27-year-old writer and director.

After schoolboy Damilola Taylor was murdered in November 2000, Walker's mother decided to move her family out of London to a town in Essex.

Image copyright The Guardian/Lightbox
Image caption Kai Francis Lewis plays the young Cornelius in the film

There her son faced verbal and physical abuse that led him to wear blue contact lenses and bleach his skin in an effort to be accepted and befriended by his persecutors.

"I felt insecure, like I wasn't good enough for anyone, and the colour of my skin was the reason for it," he told the BBC.

The film, shot in the same locations where the real events took place, re-enacts the harrowing moments Walker talks about in a candid, direct-to-camera interview.

Produced by Lightbox and The Guardian newspaper, Ed Perkins's film is one of five shortlisted for this year's Oscar for best documentary short subject.

Walker will attend the ceremony on 24 February in Los Angeles to see if it wins the award.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

More on this story