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The University of Westminster will be hosting an exclusive preview of the film ‘Joy, it’s Nina’ directed by University of Westminster’s lecturer Jane Thorburn and renowned African actress Joy Elias-Rilwan on Wednesday, 21 November.

Produced in England and Nigeria this evocative and original film builds on the experiences and emotional lives of West African women living in the UK who have been separated from their families. The stories are based on news, court reports and Joy Elias-Rilwan’s own life, including original voice mails left on her answer-machine by the legendary singer Nina Simone, her friend and self proclaimed ‘Spiritual Mother’.

The film explores how a woman of West African origin inhabits an alien and sometimes hostile landscape. Through performance and environment the film juxtaposes sound and image to offer moving interpretations of identity politics and the place of a woman in two different societies, in Africa and the UK.

Joy Elias-Rilwan features as herself narrating events from her past and as an actress portraying other West African women who are so desperate to reach Europe that they are prepared to risk their lives and those of their children in the attempt.

Alan Fisher, Interim Dean of the School of Media, Art and Design at the University of Westminster, said: “At the University of Westminster we strive to be at the forefront of British cinema, offering our students the opportunity to be exposed to different cinematic influences as well as taking part in film projects. Being able to host the premiere of Jane’s film at the University of Westminster is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the talents of our academics and their links to the industry.”

The short film is performed and written by Joy Elias-Rilwan, who has also appeared in top UK series Silent Witness, The Bill and Holby City to name a few, and directed, filmed and edited by Jane Thorburn, Principal Lecturer and Course Leader for BA Television Production at the University of Westminster, with music by James Lascelles.

Admission free

Press tickets - Requests for tickets for the screening should be made to [email protected]

For media passes and further information please contact:
Sarah Evans-Toyne, Lianne Robinson or Chiara Barreca
Broadgate Mainland
E: [email protected]
T: +44 (0)20 7726 6111

Note to editors

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JANE THORBURN is Principal Lecturer and Course Leader for BA Television Production and a member of the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) at the University of Westminster.

She has been researching the Nigerian Film and Video industry for the last five years and has made six documentaries in Nigeria. She co-founded the production company AFTER IMAGE in 1979, directing, editing and series editing the majority of the company’s productions. An early success was the Arts Magazine programme ALTER IMAGE which ran for three series on Channel 4. The programmes received a number of international awards as well as having seasons devoted to the company’s work at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

In 1989 THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH was the official entry of Channel 4 to the Montreux Television festival. The After Image production THE EMPRESS won the Royal Television Society best production design award and a special mention at the prestigious IMZ Opera Screen. Other productions include THE SCORE, a classical music magazine series for BBC2, CAMERA an opera written specially for television, 2 documentaries for the Discovery Channel, and several performance collaborations commissioned be the Arts Council, Channel 4 and BBC2.

JOY ELIAS-RILWAN appeared in SALLY POTTER'S ‘THE GOLD DIGGERS’, her first feature film while still training at Dartington College of Arts.

On graduating she attended a workshop given by MIKE FIGGIS who invited her to join THE PEOPLE SHOW to do site-specific multi-media experimental productions internationally.

After 3 years she left to create the first of her ONE WOMAN SHOWS which opened at the Meilk Weg Theatre in Amsterdam. A season at the Royal National Theatre afforded her first Shakespeare experience in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, while also creating the role of a student nurse, one of the leading characters in the last year of the BBC soap ANGELS.

Her other theatre roles vary from LADY BRACKNELL in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST to the lead in HIGH LIFE at the Hampstead Theatre, which won her a leading actress award. She was seen as the co lead opposite Leslie Grantham In Zenith TV filmed crime series 99-1 and on the big screen in THE SECRET LAUGHTER OF WOMEN with Colin Firth.

Her many voice-overs and radio work include commercially produced Talking Books as well as a serialised reading of CHANGES by Ama Ata Aidoo for the BBC. Joy has also has also appeared in top UK series SILENT WITNESS, THE BILL and HOLBY CITY. She is currently transposing Euripides's MEDEA for an international touring theatre production in which she takes the lead role.