A GROUP of disabled film-makers from Oxford have won top prizes in a national competition.

They completed the work during a course run by Film Oxford, in Catherine Street, and their finished films were entered in this year’s Snap! Competition organised by Mencap.

Two groups working with Film Oxford picked up gold awards for their efforts while Julian Blake, 53, from Abingdon, was presented with a silver award for his film Fairground.

Tutor Grey Burdick said: “They really have done well.

“The films are incredibly good, they actually wrote the pieces as well as filming them and there's a real comedy element showing off their own sense of humour.”

Sixteen adults with learning disabilities completed the intensive courses, one held at Albion House in central Oxford and one at Dimensions Day Centre in East Oxford, led by two more experienced students – both of whom also had learning disabilities.

Danny Smith, 36, who has Down’s Syndrome and lives in Cowley, led a group of nine people to create a comedy on the theme of crime and justice called Cluedo Watch.

He said: “I really enjoyed doing the course and I love making films.

“I also enjoyed the chance to meet the other people in the group.”

Cordell Barrett, 22, from Blackbird Leys, was also in the group, and received a gold award from comedian and actor Matthew Horne.

The second film, led by Richard Hunt, was a music video called It’s Not Me It’s You.

Ms Burdick said: “The films weren’t scripted, they were made through improvisation.

“We didn’t impose our ideas on the group.

“Their voices are often not respected by society and they deserve to have their voices heard.

“They have funny, interesting and quirky things to say.”

Julian Blake, a member of the Shadowlight Artists – a collective of disabled artists – has difficulty speaking, but found his voice through the project.

Ms Burdick said: “He is a man of few words.

“He channels his voice into his artwork, is very sensitive and has a very unusual way of looking at the world.”

A total of 48 different films were entered in the competition, and three of the four top awards were won by the filmmakers trained by Film Oxford.

The course was run free of charge, with financial support from the St Michael and All Saints’ Charity.