AN OXFORD schoolboy has won an award for a film he made about homelessness and inequality.

Luke Malhi, 17, scooped the Dan Hemingway Memorial Award for his movie, Roulette, which he directed and produced while studying in New York.

The award was set up to honour former The Cherwell School pupil Dan Hemingway, who died after being knocked down while cycling along the A40 near Cassington on Christmas Day in 1991.

He was aged just 19 at the time he died.

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His parents, John and Sue, created the award to inspire and encourage Cherwell students to pursue a career in the arts.

The prize was founded in 1992, as was the Dan Hemingway Prize at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where Dan – an aspiring writer and gifted musician – was a student.

Award winner Luke said: “I was lucky enough to study at the New York Film Academy at the start of my sixth form at Cherwell, while also doing my A-levels remotely.

“I was there for four months and was living with my dad, who was on an academic posting, and with relatives.

“I was struck by the inequality in New York – the fact that homelessness and real wealth rub shoulders – and I wanted to make a film that showed that whether you were homeless or wealthy could be down to just dumb luck, whether you turned right or left on a particular day.”

A film till from Roulette, which focuses on homelessness in New York

A film till from Roulette, which focuses on homelessness in New York

Film still from Luke Malhi’s Roulette

Film still from Luke Malhi’s Roulette

Luke intends to study politics and international relations at the University of Bristol, before becoming a filmmaker.

He added: “The film follows a man who is wealthy, rude and entitled.

“He has a bad day and briefly wants a different life.

“He gets given a memory stick with the different ways his life could have turned out had he caught his train on a particular day.

“People have since said to me, ‘oh, a bit like Sliding Doors?’, which I hadn’t actually seen when I made it.

“The concept’s similar but my film certainly isn’t a rom-com.”

Filming taking place for Roulette

Filming taking place for Roulette

Every year, a £350 prize is given to a sixth former at Cherwell in memory of the school’s former pupil.

Mrs Hemingway, who runs the HemingwayArt gallery in Cassington, said: “The judging is usually close, as it was again this year, but it is always something special that wins the prize.

“For someone of that age to have the privilege to attend a film school in New York and to have access to the right equipment is one thing, but to have the ability to create a piece of art like his film is another thing entirely.”

Mrs Hemingway added that she had considered not running the prize this year because of the pandemic, but eventually decided to go ahead ‘because of the importance of students being able to do something creative when their lives have been so restricted’.