An interview with Dr. Canan Salih from the Cutting East MMBF award winning film Hidden Heroes

Hidden Heroes, a production by the House of Talent group won the MMBF Rising Star Award at Cutting East Film Festival in 2015. Dr. Canan Salih, one of the directors, answered a few questions.

Who are House of Talent and how did it all begin?

House of Talent is Tower Hamlets’, ‘A’ Team Arts’ in-house performing arts provision and has been running for 36 years. Our annual shows vary from films, animation and puppets to full scale live theatre productions. The Hidden Heroes project came out of an idea to produce a live street theatre event to commemorate the commonwealth soldiers sacrifice during the Great Wa

r. We decided that our research and story would be more wid

ely accessible through film. We explored the story through stop-frame animation as a means of learning new skills, as well as re-creating the epic journey of the letters in a creative and feasible way.

Who were the young people in LBTH ‘A Team Arts’ this year?

‘A’ Team arts works with over 700 young people each year on a variety of arts projects across the borough and about 50-60 young people regularly attend House of Talent sessions. The group working on ‘Hidden Heroes’ was quite small however – just 6 young people.

You worked together as a team for weeks – Who was in charge?

This is an ‘A’ Team Arts run project, with Nigel Kellaway and Canan Salih as directors and facilitators. It was, however, a purely collabor

ative process and the young people made and filmed the whole thing.

Your award winning film ‘Hidden Heroes’ looks at the brave sacrifices made by WW1 soldiers, is this something the team was passionate about?

Yes. We researched a great deal about the Sepoys that served during the Great War and decided to highlight a specific aspect of their great sacrifice – the thousands of letters that went back and forth between the Western Front and India, particularly in an age where there was no internet or even telephones (in some places). The group read some of the letters and were moved by the heartfelt messages and were outraged that they were censored.

You won our MMBF Rising Star Award at Cutting East Film Festival, how did that feel?

We were totally surprised, honoured and very proud of the coverage the film received from winning the award. We were also honoured to win an award at the Cutting East Festival, especially as it is curated by young people from East London, celebrating new and emerging film talent from Tower Hamlets. We value the panel’s appreciation for all our hard work and the poignant story of the Sepoys. We thought we were up against some tough competition and didn’t expect to win at


Was Hidden Heroes screened anywhere else? What sort of reaction have you got from it thus far?

Hidden heroes has been screened nationally and internationally and we have received a number of awards from various film competitions. All screenings and awards can be viewed at Recently Hidden Heroes won the Into Films ‘Film of the Month’ Award.

Having worked as a team for such a long time, what was the first step?

Finding roles for each of the team members which played to their strengths for example artistic ability, scriptwriting, attention to detail, patience and good concentration.

The team won some money towards their next film project, what will you be working on?

We are preparing for a production called Rapture.