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RIFA 2018- Inspiration Award (Public Category)

We’ve revealed the shortlist for the 2018 Research in Film Awards (RIFA) and now we’re excited to give you a glimpse into each of the 25 nominated films. This week we’re taking a look at the five films shortlisted for the Inspiration Award – the only category open to members of the public and non- research-led films. The award recognises films that have been inspired by the arts and humanities - be that a play, poem, exhibition or other forms of art, as these nominees show.

Select a film to watch from this list of quick links:

Edward Woodman - David Bickerstaff in collaboration with Art360 Foundation
Give me Today, Anytime - George Harris (Mirador)
Their Rancid Words Stagnate Our Ponds - Andrew Kötting
Blackbird - Dr Jamie Chambers
Singing with Nightingales - Katie Stacey and Luke Massey

Edward Woodman

David Bickerstaff in collaboration with Art360 Foundation

This short film, shot in a single morning, captures photographer Edward Woodman in the intimate space of his home and studio, a rich resource for art historical enquiry. Each frame provides a unique view into the world of one of Britain’s most significant photographers. The film is interspersed with the voices of Cornelia Parker, Anya Gallaccio, David Ward, Damien Hirst and Richard Wilson, who each reflect on Woodman’s extraordinary ability to document art.

The filmmaker, David Bickerstaff, who studied as a fine artist in Australia before moving to the UK where he started working with new media, print and the moving image, said: “Edward Woodman is a testament to the life’s work of one of the most prolific photographers of the 20th century. Shot amongst Woodman’s extensive archive of iconic images, the film highlights the artistry of documentation and explores Woodman’s role as the ‘go to’ photographer of contemporary art in the 80s’ and 90s’. Told through the voices of some of Britain’s leading contemporary artists, the film has become a permanent piece of Woodman’s archive and legacy. We are so thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Research in Film Awards, which will enable our film, and Woodman’s art, to reach an even wider audience.”

The judges said: 'This is a fascinating and beautifully made film that seamlessly edits footage of Edward Woodman working with archival shots of his previous work, with audio commentaries about his practice from artists and collaborators, and conveys the complexity and craft involved in his work.'

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Give me Today, Anytime

George Harris (Mirador)

This film was commissioned as part of an arts programme, Walking In Others Footsteps, which sets out to reveal the extraordinary content of one of the UK’s most important collections of oral history testimonies. Collected in the 1970s, the Elizabeth Roberts Archive is a unique and important source for the history of working-class life in north-west England.

The archive contains 545 tape recordings and transcripts of interviews through which we hear the voices of people born at the end of the nineteenth century sharing their perspectives on the timeless themes of birth, love, marriage, health, work, family and death.  The archive is held at The Regional Heritage Centre at Lancaster University and is currently being digitised to improve its access for research.

Commenting on this film, the judges said: ‘The focus on specific aspects of domestic life and on specific individuals and families make this extremely engaging…while also enabling complex ideas to be tackled in a light and warm-hearted, personal way.’

Charity organisation, Mirador, wanted the film to be a celebration of people’s memories from the archive and provide the ‘connection mechanism’ that linked three different industrial towns in the north-west as well as connecting the past to the present.

George explains more: “Everything we do is driven by being original and imaginative, creating great history, art and cultural projects and inspiring people to learn more about their heritage in a fun way. Being recognised by the AHRC Research in Film Awards for Give me Today, Anytime is warmly welcomed as an independent endorsement that we are getting things right!”

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Their Rancid Words Stagnate Our Ponds

Andrew Kötting

This film was inspired by Samuel Beckett’s writing, Hattie Naylor’s play Ivan and the Dogs and Joseph Conrad’s character Kurtz as played by Marlon Brando in the film Apocalypse Now. The lone wanderer from Their Rancid Words Stagnate Our Ponds also references the character of Ridley Walker from Russel Hoban’s novel. And as one of the judges observed: ‘These sources of inspiration can be seen in the experimental nature of the filmmaking, the barren landscape, the viewpoints taken and the voiceover in a specially invented language.’  

Filmmaker, Andrew explains how the lone wanderer in the film is searching for meaning and understanding, and how, “as in Samuel Beckett’s work, this might perhaps be seen as a metaphor for both the human condition and the creative process, but more importantly as an ongoing research investigation.”

Observing the compelling nature of the film, the judges added: “This powerful and enigmatic mini-drama packs an emotional punch and raises some acute issues about where the world may be heading.”

Andrew trained at the Slade School of Art in London with Stuart Brisley, specialising in performance and film, and went on to teach as a part-time Senior Lecturer at KIAD in Maidstone before becoming a Professor of Time Based Media at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA). Andrew said: “It is the interface between experimental documentary, experimental essay, experimental film and experimental performance that continues to inform me as a practitioner.”

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Dr Jamie Chambers

Blackbird is a tale of belonging and loss. It tells the story of aspiring young bard, Ruadhan, who despairs as the fabric of his Scottish hometown begins to change. Featuring legendary performers Norman Maclean and Sheila Stewart, Blackbird brings Scotland’s most loved folk heroes to the big screen, while exploring a central question of how forms of Scottish folk culture (and orality in particular) might be translated into cinema: what aspects can cinema re-articulate, what elements are lost, and what elements are transformed? Arising from semi-ethnographic research processes undertaken in close collaboration with the communities depicted in the film, Blackbird narrativises the processes of oral transmission upon which community-embedded traditions in Scotland rely.

Jamie is an award-winning, BAFTA-nominated film director and a lecturer in Film and TV at Edinburgh College of Art. Jamie says: "I am delighted that my work has been shortlisted for the Inspiration Award. For me the Awards are indicative of a very exciting time within British universities whereby film is increasingly gaining recognition as a dynamic medium through which to explore diverse research questions."

The judges added that this is 'a bold experimental example of 'folk cinema', making the case for its genre with a good deal of 'heart'...which 'successfully works on two levels'.

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Singing with Nightingales

Katie Stacey and Luke Massey

Sam Lee is a Mercury Prize nominated folk singer and on 19th May 2014 he performed The Tan Yard Side to the accompaniment of a nightingale on Radio 4 in honour of the 90th anniversary of the first-ever outside broadcast. Since then, Sam has led a series of magical events in woods around the UK, involving stories by the campfire about man’s legacy of making music with nightingales before embarking on an improvised musical interaction with nightingales.

The filmmakers argue that despite being a bird steeped in historical and cultural importance, nightingales are on the verge of extinction in the UK. Today 91% have vanished from Britain in the last 50 years. Through Singing with Nightingales Sam Lee’s aim is to re-connect society using deep cultural listening to the nightingale, a bird that is now in desperate need of our attention.

In praise of this film, the judges said it is 'a remarkable and very evocative project captured in a touchingly plain and heartfelt piece of reportage, allowing the human and avian musicians to be the stars of the show.’

Producer/director Katie Stacey and producer Luke Massey have filmed together for numerous different projects, including for Netflix, BBC and Channel 5. 

This year they were awarded the Ron Tuckman Youth Award for their episode of the BBC3 series Undercover Tourist : Tiger Selfies Exposed | Inside The Captive Tiger Industry, at the Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival. They are both keen conservationists and have filmed as part of the team that produced Chris Packham’s online film Cyprus: Massacre on Migration.

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