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.

Our next public lecture: Merle Patchett; University of Bristol; School of Geographical Sciences; From Sexual Selection to Sex And The City: The Biogeographies of the Blue Bird-Of-Paradise; Wednesday October 18th  6.30 pm -8.00 pm 


Merle Patchett; University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences 

Wednesday October 18th  6.30 pm -8.00 pm inc discussion, wine and snacks; Newton Park Campus; Commons Building; Room 225; this is a free event but please book a place through Bath Spa Live here 

Abstract. This paper takes as its starting point an encounter with a preserved blue bird-of-paradise skin. Though rare, the bird became wildly famous after it perched atop the head of Carrie Bradshaw during Sex and the City: The Movie. For those handling bird-of-paradise skins the ethereal beauty and luxurious quality of their plumage is immediately felt, making it easy to understand why birds-of-paradise have “for millennia been ornaments, commodities and gifts”. [i]  Yet as Darwin’s theory of sexual selection tells us, the birds’ exuberant plumage evolved entirely for their own pleasure. This paper will therefore chart the blue bird-of-paradise’s biogeographies of excess: from sexual selection to Sex and the City. Tracing the lively geographies of this dead bird from New Guinea rainforests to New York streets offers the opportunity of narrating collective natural and cultural change over time and space. This is because the blue bird-of-paradise can be thought of as a “telling example” of the millions of Paradisaea that were hunted, traded, shipped and lusted after since their earliest forms of commodification. Moreover, with the Paradisaea now said to be on a “flight to oblivion” the paper will conclude by outlining how the blue bird-of-paradise offers a way of working towards transspecies histories and therefore multispecies recuperation.


Merle Patchett is a cultural-historical geographer by training. Her research broadly focuses on theories, histories, and geographies of practice. This focus has led her to engage empirically with a range of specialised skills (e.g. taxidermy and plumasserie), practitioners (e.g. artisans, artists and architects), and places of practice (e.g. museums, galleries and archives) and to develop practice-based methodologies. See Merle’s staff pages here

 Image result for Merle patchett


Films of David Rothenberg Lecture at Bath Spa University; jointly presented by Environmental Humanities Research and Music. 17 May 2017.

Introduced by Amanda Bayley Professor of Music at Bath Spa University

David Rothenberg lecture at Bath Spa University 2017 part 1 from College of Liberal Arts on Vimeo.

David Rothenberg lecture at Bath Spa University part 2 from College of Liberal Arts on Vimeo.

Reminder and additions to this exciting programme of watery art, film and music on Sunday July 2, Bristol – Down By the River

As well as the programme on the poster below we have

A late addition to the line-up is the oud/African+Arabic music duo, Nabra, which brings into WCB other facet of ‘water connectivity’, beyond the local. ie – global people movements over water – migration/refugees etc.

The global connectivity is enhanced also by the appearance (also MC for the night) of Helena Enright – from Limerick on the River Shannon in Ireland (also via Bath Spa Uni)

Should be a lovely celebration of a myriad of water linkages and WaterCityBristol (WCB), through poetry, film, theatre and music

Included in the billing is Lucy Izzard’s new River Avon+Eel animated film – Protect The Eels. This has had over 1000 views on YouTube, in less than two weeks!

This is hosted by the ‘Hidden Tides’ commissioned artists – Letterpress Collective, at their event space in CentreSpace Studios.


Down By the River – an evening of art and entertainment; Bristol Sunday July 3rd  – part of the Towards Hydroitizenship project – Water City Bristol Case Study – Bristol Loves Tides movement

Down By the River – an evening of art and entertainment Bristol Sunday July 3rd  – part of the Towards Hydroitizenship project – Water City Bristol Case Study

Down by the River is co-produced by The Letter Press Collective, NOVA Creative Lab and Helena Enright

A Bristol Loves Tide Event

In a great venue  see poster for more details DOWN-BY-THE-RIVER