Filmmaker Michael Jenkins' 'ode to black frontline workers'

By Caroline Le Marechal
BBC News, Bristol

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image captionMichael Jenkins said black frontline workers are "often ignored when it comes to narratives of 'who are the heroes of this country?'"

A filmmaker has created an "ode to black frontline workers" during the coronavirus pandemic.

We Are Not The Virus by Michael Jenkins is a spoken word film exploring isolation through the eyes of black people in Bristol.

Jenkins said he wanted to show the "impact black people have made on the UK in modern history".

The film was commissioned as part of BBC Arts and Arts Council England's Culture in Quarantine.

Jenkins said he submitted his idea, after lockdown was announced, and was one of 25 artists selected from more than 1,600 applicants.

"As Covid got worse I was learning about how again black and BAME people were disproportionately affected.

"This inspired me to turn a common misunderstanding about immigration and flip it on its head," he said.

Jenkins said it was "vital this narrative is told".

"Through generations of mis-education, people have a general misunderstanding of who the people of the Windrush generation are and their descendants.

"And how we have done nothing but try and help this country and just exist and try to breathe in a place infested with structural racism."

He said his film included nurses, care workers, a security guard and a bus driver - people who are "stepping out of their way to feed and provide essentials to vulnerable people".

image captionOne scene shows his son stopping at the Windrush mural in St Pauls to remember "those trendsetters who came before, his elders and ancestors"

Writer and historian Dr Edson Burton acted as a mentor and "helped Michael to focus on the coherence of the poem, its shape and to push the metaphor".

"The result as I am sure all would agree is a powerful piece of spoken word and film.

"Video poems sometimes fail to utilise the possibilities of film - Michael has brought his A-game to text and film. A pandemic masterpiece," Dr Burton said.

image captionThe film also includes people who took part in the Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on 7 June

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