Documentary-maker Joanna selected for Grierson Doculab

Aspiring filmmaker Joanna Hughes is hoping to make people look at the world in a new light after winning a place with Grierson Doculab.

Joanna HughesThe 23-year-old BA (Hons) Media Production student graduates this summer to follow in the footsteps of some of the UK’s top documentary makers.

“What I love about documentary is its’ ability to educate and influence society for the better,” she said.

“Unlike fiction, a documentary confronts you with something difficult or painful. There’s a tension that can make audiences re-evaluate the world and perhaps even do something about it.” 


Grierson Doculab selected Joanna as one of 15 young filmmakers from across the UK for its year-long industry mentoring scheme.

Previous ‘interns’ include Ben McGeorge Henderson (Drowning in Plastic), Cherish Oteka (Too Gay for God?) and Michael Jenkins (C4 Shorts).

Joanna, who starts this week (May 17), said: “I’m excited just to learn more about documentary, to hear from professionals in the field and to have my first experience working on a professional documentary.”

Joanna, who completed A Levels at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor in Dolgellau, is the first LJMU final-year student to successfully apply for the scheme and has a "genuine calling" and devotion to documentary-making, according to one of her course tutors and Programme Leader of the Masters Documentary programme, Camilla Affleck.

Fantastic start

Camilla explained: “A lot of our graduates get jobs in the professional industry - they leave with a range of industry skills which makes them very employable - but this scheme is a fantastic start career-wise as each person is assigned an industry mentor, so the opportunities and networking are exceptional.”

So what sort of films does Joanna make?

On her degree course she created an interactive film which told the story of Chinese merchant sailors who were forcibly repatriated from Liverpool in the 1940s. Many of their British wives and children did not know what had happened to the men believing they had been abandoned.

“I think it’s really important we share stories like this, particularly with the surge in racism towards Asian communities as a result of the pandemic,” she said.


“Being both Welsh and Malaysian, one of my motivations to work in the media is to try and better represent East and South East Asian communities within British film and television.”

The Grierson Trust is sponsored by Netflix, The Rank Foundation and indies Blast! Films, Dragonfly TV, Lightbox, Minnow Films, Plimsoll Productions, Renegade Pictures and Wise Owl Films/All3 Media as well as The Rumi Foundation.  


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