Antiguan Cinematographer wins major Film Award for his role in Steve McQueen’s ‘Small Axe’

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By Theresa Goodwin

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‘Keep dreaming, keep making”, said an award-winning local cinematographer as he encouraged youth in Antigua and Barbuda and the region who are desirous of pursuing a career in the film industry.

Shabier Kirchner has gained local, regional and international recognition for his work as a cinematographer and director as he continues on the path he fell in love with from the tender age of 13.

His latest achievement came on Monday when he won the award for photography and lighting in the 2021 British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ (BAFTA TV) Awards for his work in Steve Mc Queen’s Small Axe.

The monumental five-part Small Axe series tells personal stories of resilience and triumph that are both steeped in history and vibrant with culture.

In his acceptance speech Kirchner said he was extremely pleased to be a part of the series and working with the “exceptional people” who worked on the entire production.

“I never thought a show like this would have been made, much less me being attached to it. This is not mine; this is Steve McQueen’s. Steve, you are an absolute force, you are a beautiful human being. Thank you so much for making these films, telling these stories and inviting me along on your journey,” Shabier said.

To his parents, Bert and Faye Kirchner, the awardee said: ”I would not be here without you. When a little boy from the Caribbean said I wanted to make film, you all probably thought I was crazy. You stood by me through thick and thin and you helped me wherever you could, you supported me and never discouraged me and I am eternally grateful.

He also encouraged aspiring film producers from the region who may think that it’s impossible to dream to “keep dreaming, knowing that dreams are possible”.

 Small Axe and Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” were the biggest winners in the awards that were broadcast live on BAFTA’s social channels 

BBC/HBO’s “I May Destroy You” won the key awards of director, fiction, editing, fiction and writer, drama.

BBC/Amazon’s “Small Axe” had the most wins with five BAFTAs, including for makeup and hair design, costume design, production design, photography and lighting, fiction and for scripted casting.

Meanwhile, Bert Kirchner, Antigua and Barbuda’s Film Commissioner said he was proud of Shabier’s latest achievement.

“Its one of my proudest moments; Antigua and the Caribbean can be proud of him. Small Axe has also won several accolades in the past, it brings across the plight of the Caribbean people in England — the story of the Windrush Generation,” the elder Kirchner said.

Film and Television Producer Mitzi Allen of HaMa Films Antigua also commended Shabier for remaining consistent and following through with his lifelong dream.

“This did not happen overnight; he has been working hard and he has paid his dues; and his parents for his encouragement, that is a bonus for him,” she said.

Allen is also hoping that the achievement of the young Antiguan will inspire the government and the private sector to support the dreams of young people in the creative industry.

 “It is not just about film, it is about all the different aspects that requires the focus, the attention and the finances to ensure that they are able to accomplish what they want to do,” Allen said.

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