“I imagine that”
Anne Frank Ambassadors call for
an end to prejudice
A creative expression piece with Pete Letanka,
Amina Jama and the voices of the English National Opera
Katherine Wilde, producer
From the beginning, we wanted to make a film that gives voice to young people and to their hopes for a future society free from prejudice and discrimination. We have worked with pupils from two schools: Highfield Leadership Academy in Blackpool, and Woodside High School in North London. On the surface, these schools feel very different in terms of geographical location and cultural make-up, yet in both schools, we were impressed and humbled by the passion and bravery of the young people who wanted to stand against prejudice in their schools, local communities and wider society. This is testament to both the spirit of those young people and the incredible work that the Anne Frank Trust team are already doing in these and other schools across the country. I’m delighted that we were able to bring these young people together with two exceptional artists, poet Amina Jama and composer Pete Letanka, who worked with the young people over the course of a day to turn their thoughts and hopes into creative expressions in words and music. As Pete Letanka pointed out to the pupils at Woodside High School: when we are old, they will be the ones that take the torch and keep the fire burning against prejudice for future generations. For such a vital message, it feels right that the words of these young people are placed centre stage and given the full attention that they deserve. We hope that having them voiced by three talented singers from the English National Opera’s Harewood young artist programme does just that.
Pete Letanka, jazz pianist and composer
Working with the Anne Frank Trust on this project has been both an honour and a privilege. I have been very personally moved and inspired by the nature of the work that the Trust does. My father was from a township in South Africa, he moved to England in 1963 to study to become a medical doctor. Here he met my mother whom he married and had three children. Because of my mother’s aristocratic background and the Immorality Act in South Africa, their marriage received sensational publicity in the press and led the apartheid government in South Africa to declare them “prohibited immigrants” to South Africa. It remained illegal for my family to travel to South Africa until 1993. This locked door meant that my sisters and I were forbidden from meeting many members of our family, including our grandparents. The opportunity to discuss issues around discrimination with young people has the power to unlock doors. I hope that the film we’ve made of the words of these Anne Frank ambassadors will unlock more doors. Once doors are unlocked, people can meet and these meeting points are fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Prejudice rarely survives experience.
Amina Jama, poet
The Anne Frank Trust ambassadors in Blackpool and London effortlessly led conversations on the current and continuous relevance of Anne Frank’s words. They melded their ideas on recent and historic forms of prejudice into hopeful and heartfelt poetry and music. Working with these ambassadors was such a privilege; it was an opportunity to reinvest in the voices of young people, to provide them with agency and personally learn from their unique outlooks. We looked at words from Anne Frank’s diary, from a 1960 Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem and a contemporary 2020 poem on prejudice by Victoria Adukwei-Bulley. I hope for the film to inspire a fresh outlook on the power of poetry and music, especially when led by bright, fresh voices.