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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 February, 2005, 15:09 GMT
Race film joy for debut director
Amma Asante and members of the cast of A Way of Life
Amma Asante paid tribute to the acting of the young stars
A film tackling the issue of racism in south Wales has won a Bafta and 10,000 for director Amma Asante.

The former child star of BBC TV series Grange Hill landed the Carl Foreman Award at Saturday's ceremony for special achievement in a debut feature.

A Way of Life was set in Wales because of its long history of black immigration centred around Cardiff and the south Wales docks.

The film starred inexperienced young actors from south Wales.

The 1.8m film both written and directed by Asante drew financial backing in Wales and was premiered at the Cardiff screen festival last November.

It was a fantastic atmosphere and to be singled out was just fantastic
Gary Howe, casting director

It centres around a racist murder by four teenagers in a working class community.

Notably, it is told from the racists' point of view and begins with a Turkish man being beaten to death in the street as the baby of one of the killers watches from her pushchair.

Speaking from the winners' podium in London, Asante paid tribute to her Cardiff-based casting director Gary Howe, who was in the audience.

Amma  Asante
Critics hailed Asante's film as powerful and brilliantly raw
He told the BBC Wales News website later: "When she accepted the award she said she would like to thank the cast and my casting director Gary Howe... my phone didn't stop ringing.

"It was a fantastic atmosphere and to be singled out was just fantastic."

Welsh accent

There was more: after the ceremony, there was dinner at the Grosvenor Hotel, where he enjoyed a "lovely chat" with Goldie Hawn and Angelica Houston.

Mr Howe, a former casting director at Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold, Flintshire, was impressed by the script and the use of genuinely Welsh voices.

Asante was keen to give more exposure to the young Welsh voice which she believed was not seen enough in British films.

"It's nice to hear the Welsh accent on the network," said Mr Howe.

"To me it's very important. I don't think our Welsh accent is heard enough," he added.

A The film's central character, Leigh-Anne, was played by 17-year-old Stephanie James, found in a Saturday morning workshop in Aberdare after months of hunting .

Leigh-Anne, struggling to provide for her baby below the poverty line and with no family support, is the main force behind the racist killing.

The film was developed by ITV Wales, which also co-financed it with the media promotion body Sgrin Cymru Wales on behalf of the Arts Council of Wales and the UK Film Council.

Producer, Peter Edwards, head of drama at ITV Wales, said, "This powerful film is an accomplished work and I'm thrilled Amma is getting the recognition she deserves.

"This film was developed and shot in Wales and has now found its place on the world stage."

A Way of Life will have its television debut on ITV1 Wales on Saturday, 19 March at 2300GMT

New approach in racism film
13 Nov 04 |  Wales

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