Future Pasts project film shortlisted for Arts and Humanities Research Council’s prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards

A film made by the Future Pasts research project  led by Professor Sian Sullivan of the Bath Spa University Research Centre for Environmental Humanities has been shortlisted for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards.

The film ‘The Damara King’s Festival’ was made in collaboration with Namibian film organisation Mamokobo, the Damara King’s Festival Organising Committee, and UK academic partners at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for African Studies.

DAMARA KING’S FESTIVAL 2016 (29 mins) from Future Pasts on Vimeo.

The film, recently showcased  in the exhibition ‘Future Pasts: Landscape, Memory and Music in West Namibia’, has made the shortlist for the International Development Award.

Hundreds of films were submitted for the Awards this year and the overall winner for each category, who will receive £2,000 towards their filmmaking, will be announced at a special ceremony at 195 Piccadilly in London, home of BAFTA, on 9 November.

Launched in 2015, the Research in Film Awards celebrate short films, up to 30 minutes long, that have been made about the arts and humanities and their influence on our lives.

There are five categories in total with four of them aimed at the research community and one open to the public.

Principal Investigator for the Future Pasts research project, Sian Sullivan, said:

‘We are delighted at this news. This is the first filmed record of a unique event in which music, dance and oratory combine to honour Damara pasts, presents and cultural landscapes. Blending long-term ethnographic research with the visual intuition of Namibian film-maker Andrew Botelle, the film offers a window into an intimate celebration of identity by a rich but historically marginalised indigenous culture. This recognition will help us to share the film more widely within Namibia, and to support the Festival Organising Committee in future events.’

Mike Collins, Head of Communications at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: ‘The standard of filmmaking in this year’s Research in Film Awards has been exceptionally high and the range of themes covered span the whole breadth of arts and humanities subjects.

‘While watching the films I was impressed by the careful attention to detail and rich storytelling that the filmmakers had used to engage their audiences. The quality of the shortlisted films further demonstrates the endless potential of using film as a way to communicate and engage people with academic research. Above all, the shortlist showcases the art of filmmaking as a way of helping us to understand the world that we live in today.

A team of judges watched the longlisted films in each of the categories to select the shortlist and ultimately the winner. Key criteria included looking at how the filmmakers came up with creative ways of telling stories – either factual or fictional – on camera that capture the importance of arts and humanities research to all of our lives.

Judges for the 2017 Research in Film Awards include Richard Davidson-Houston of Channel 4 Television, Lindsay Mackie Co-founder of Film Club and Matthew Reisz from Times Higher Education.

The winning films will be shared on the Arts and Humanities Research Council website and YouTube channel. On 9 November you’ll be able to follow the fortunes of the shortlisted films on Twitter via the hashtag #RIFA2017.

Author: Owain Jones

I work at Bath Spa University as a Professor of Environmental Humanities, and I am Director of the University's Environmental Humanities Research Centre

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