Lights, camera, action! The Port of Tyne Reflect Awards are returning for the seventh year to spotlight some of the best talents from the region and around the world - and today we can reveal the cracking line-up of judges.
Just announced are locally-born household names from across the world of arts and sports: writer Terry Deary, punk rocker Pete Zulu, former England cricketer Paul Collingwood and former athlete and commentator Steve Cram, while industry experts will be on hand to give them some impartial advice as they go about the tough job of picking out winners.
The Reflect photograph and film awards event is one of the biggest competitions of its kind in the UK, attracting entries from all over the world while offering talents in the North East an opportunity to showcase the region at its best with images and short films invited from anywhere down from the border at Berwick through Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham to the Tees Valley.
“The Reflect Awards go from strength to strength, each year attracting more entries and more fabulous photography and films from people who are passionate about the North East,” said Susan Wear, Port of Tyne’s director of corporate affairs.
And she thinks the announcement of this year’s voting panel will boost the competition’s profile even further.
“We are delighted to have such an eminent judging panel,” she added. “It reflects the standard of the competition and we hope it will encourage even more people to take part.”
For Terry Deary, author of the hugely popular Horrible Histories series as well as being a playwright and broadcaster, this is a first time on the Reflect judging panel.
He’ll be selecting from the 16-and-under photo category and the writer, who is originally from Sunderland and is of the most-borrowed authors in British libraries, said: “The competition is all about celebrating the North East and encouraging creativity.
“I’m really excited to be judging the children’s photo category and will be looking for originality and imagination - though looking at previous years, choosing the winners will be no easy task.”
Paul Collingwood, Steve Cram, from Jarrow, and South Shields-born Pete Zulu, of The Toy Dolls fame, are all returning to the role of judges, as are Academy Award-winning film producer and actor David Parfitt, from Sunderland, and film-maker and photographer Trai Anfield, of Enlightened Media and Hawk’s Head Photography, but this time they will have some new categories to judge.
Trai, who is also a BBC Presenter, said: “I am delighted to be judging the new North East Nature category.
“Last time it was very difficult to select a shortlist because I was so impressed by the fantastic range of subjects and photographic styles.
“This time I will be looking for images with a difference that showcase our stunning wildlife and the variety of beautiful natural land and seascapes.”
Paul Collingwood also has a new North East category to judge: that of North East Life. “The North East is famous for its passions, pastimes and cultural identity and the great thing about the Reflect Awards is that it provides an outlet to capture the essence of the region as you see it,” said Paul who is current captain of Durham County Cricket Club.
Steve Cram, meanwhile, will be tasked with choosing the best from among the film entries. He said: “Judging the Reflect Youth Film category is so much fun, I am so pleased to be asked to judge again.
“The films entered last time were highly inventive and showed remarkable talent from young people.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all of the new entries and hope that everyone has a lot of fun creating their films.”
And David Parfitt, who is best known for producing films such as Shakespeare In Love, The Madness of King George and My Week with Marilyn, was also excited about his return to judge the over-16s film category, saying: “The standard of entries demonstrates the extraordinary creativity and imagination I always expect of this great region.
“In this time of austerity, where arts funding has been hard hit, it is wonderful to see the Reflect Awards continuing to flourish and influence new filmmaking and photographic talent.”
Offering the judges impartial advice will be Susan Wear herself, North News & Pictures managing director Ted Ditchburn and Northern Film & Media’s managing director John Tulip.
The judging is likely to prove quite a challenge, as entries have been flooding in since October.
Pete Zulu, who is a photographer and a chef as well as being a musician, added: “Reflect perfectly portrays the spirit of the region, its energy and passions. I am really looking forward to judging the People category this year.
“The characters of the people of the region have inspired some of the world’s best loved artists, music and song and I would appeal for everyone to pick up a camera and have a go at entering their photos.”
The competition is open to both professional photographers or filmmakers as well as amateurs and enthusiasts and anybody interested in taking part can find out more about the details of the awards and the prizes at www.portoftyne.co.uk/reflect