A FILM-MAKER from from the district is preparing to bring her latest project to the big screen in her home town.

The Cowfoot Prince, a docu-film about the Sierra Leonian story teller, actor and musician Usifu Jalloh, will be screened at Hexham’s Forum Cinema on Saturday, ahead of its world premiere at the Washington DC International Short Film Festival, from September 19 to 28.

It has been directed by Bex Singleton, who grew up in Hexham before embarking on a career in photography, which took her to the West African country in 2011.

People attending the screening will have the chance to meet the star of the show. For Usifu, who is known as the Cowfoot Prince, will be at the Forum to address the audience beforehand.

Afterwards, he will take part in a question and answer session hosted by Tony Webster, who was headteacher at Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School during Bex’s time there as a pupil.

The emotive film follows Usifu, who now lives in London, back to the village of Kamakwie, where he grew up in Sierra Leone.

The story of personal tragedy and triumph will highlight the death of his father, and also how he learned the skills which led him to into a multi-faceted career as a performer, and a promoter of African cultures and traditions.

Bex, who met Usifu at a fund-raising event in London following the devastating mudslides in Sierra Leone two years ago, said: “It’s really exciting to be bringing the film, and Usifu, back to my home town.

“I wanted to make a film that shared some of the other aspects of life in Sierra Leone that we don’t often, or perhaps ever, get to see in the UK.”

Bex’s own journey from Hexham school pupil to international photographer and documentary film maker is a remarkable one.

After initially visiting Sierra Leone as part of a photography project eight years ago, she has spent much time in the country, and knew some of the families affected by the mudslide, which killed over 1,000 people. Bex organised a fund-raising swim in aid of survivors, many of whom were left homeless.

She added: “Usifu advised me on organisations which would use the donations reliably. I went along to some of his performances in London, where he’s based most of the time, and we got to know each other a little.”

The 38-year-old is currently completing an MA in documentary directing at the National Film and Television School, in Buckinghamshire.

Her other projects include I’ll Love You Till the End (2018) and Buttterfly (2017).

Usifu ended up living in the UK by chance. After joining a theatre school in his home country, he headed to Detroit, Michigan, to develop his acting skills. But while transitioning from Heathrow to Gatwick on his way back home to Sierra Leone, he lost his passport and ended up staying in England.

The screening will support the Aruna Jalloh Foundation, founded by Usifu, which strives for better education in Sierra Leone.