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Sky Arts has awarded some of Coventry’s brightest creative talents commissions to create a new series of short films that will explore ideas around freedom.


In a unique collaboration, and in recognition of Coventry’s year as the UK’s City of Culture, Sky Arts has partnered with Arts Council England, Coventry City of Culture Trust, The Space and the city’s emerging artist platform, Shoot Festival, to discover and unlock the potential of ten diverse Coventry artists, providing them with an opportunity to tell distinctive stories and create short films to reach national audiences.


The series ‘Unlocked’ – will see a wide range of local artists bringing their observations on the world around us to TV for the first time. The artists were selected from an open-call and applicants were invited to submit their ideas for short films responding to the question ‘what does it mean to be free?’. The concept of ‘freedom’ being one of the City of Culture’s main themes.


As part of the project, each of the ten artists will receive a bespoke programme of mentoring and support from industry professionals, helping them to create new digital broadcast content.


Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts said: “I’m excited to see the work that will be created by these brilliant emerging talents and really proud that Sky Arts will be able to showcase their work and introduce it to new audiences. It’s important that young creatives are offered support in developing new work and by working in partnership with organisations across the West Midlands region, we will ensure that their voices are nurtured and heard.”


Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of the Coventry City of Culture Trust said: “It’s so important in our Year of Culture that we invest in local talent, build new collaborations and opportunities, and raise ambition.  This is another great broadcast project with Sky, where we are sharing Coventry’s rich identity.  Unlocked will give a range of City Voices new opportunities, enabling them to tell important stories in a series of brand new works that will see voices, tales and faces from across the Coventry region broadcast across the land.”


Shoot Festival Co-Artistic Directors Jen Davis and Paul O’Donnell said: ‘We’re thrilled to be supporting this pioneering group of artists as they make their broadcast debut. As an organisation we are dedicated to developing local talent and we look forward to giving it the national platform it so rightly deserves.”


Commissions were chosen by a panel made up of representatives from each of the partner organisations and these new short films will be created using a range of styles including dance, comedy, spoken word, poetry and drama to tell new, insightful stories about the world we live in.


Currently in production, the artists are being supported by Shoot Festival and digital agency The Space to produce their films, which are due to be transmitted in the Spring of 2022 as Coventry’s year of culture culminates.

Shoot Festival corporate image

The selected works are:

Boaz Adelekan – It Starts With Me

An exploration of toxic masculinity through spoken word. A young man attempts to describe his mental imprisonment, but can identifying his greatest fears and discovering his ‘why’ enable him to be free?


Alexandra Johnson – Widows Might

A Coventry woman gives everything looking after her husband of over 40 years. He has dementia and long ago stopped being the man she married. She loves him absolutely, yet his death unlocks her life.


Ayesha Jones – Other (Please Specify)

Exploring how the mixed heritage experience can help us break free from otherness and the social constructs of "race", Other (Please Specify) draws on the lived experience of those who have parents that originate from different places.


Ascension Dance – Unrestrained (working title)

Choreographed by Ashley Jordan / Performed by Jess Dowdeswell & Ben Morley

Unrestrained (working title) is a new dance film that combines movement from dance and parkour. It's a duet created and inspired by the unique movement possibilities possessed by Jess Dowdeswell. 'Unrestrained' looks at the world differently, being inspires by different body types and opportunities as opposed to being restrained by the way the world is currently built.


Emilie Lauren Jones – On Theses Streets We Shine

A spoken-word celebration of self-expression in the city. Emilie’s spoken word poetry will compliment moving images and depict the diverse range of people living and thriving in Coventry.  


Hannah Kumari – Devi

A woman of mixed heritage is stuck in a cycle of addiction. As she searches for help, she encounters an ancestral figure in an unlikely place. 


Jack Norris – Irish, Blacks & Dogs

An ageing Irish immigrant receives an unwanted visit from a healthcare worker in the middle of the night.


Susie Sillett – Birds

What does it mean to be unlocked when someone you love is locked up? Moving between humour, despair and love, Birds is about the ups and downs of being on the outside when contact is limited and costly.


Sarah Worth and Highly Sprung – Out Out

Unlocking and celebrating the voices and experiences of Coventry’s emerging LGBTQIA+ community. What better to take you on this journey to freedom than Coventry’s iconic black cab?


Tom Wright – Sent to Cov

Exploring the theme of 'Unlocked' through a Queer lens. What does it means to have the freedom to be who you truly are? What people, places and things can hold you back, including yourself? And how all people can unlock their potential and to liberate themselves?

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