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RIFA 2018 – Social Media Short Award

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 Social Media Short Award, which, in recognition of the growing use of video on social media, showcases some of the best short films made specifically with social media platforms in mind.

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

Our Home - Dr Brett Matulis and Dr Jessica Moyer, University of Leicester
Missed Call - Victoria Mapplebeck, Royal Holloway, University of London
The Born-Free Generation, Phendulani's Story and Me - Professor Paul Cooke, University of Leeds
Mobility, Mood and Place - Professor Catharine Ward Thompson, University of Edinburgh
George Harrison: The Story of the Beatles and Indian Music Performance Teaser - Chen-Yu Lin, University of Liverpool

Our Home

Dr Brett Matulis and Dr Jessica Moyer, University of Leicester

This ‘video essay’ offers a unique depiction of nature, and was written, choreographed and narrated by Filipina women who, in the words of filmmaker Brett, “took a leap of faith into an artistic medium they had little or no experience with – subsequently showcasing their hidden potential.

“Our research reinvents nature writing for the current moment: as an instrument of sustainable development and environmental justice, and on a digital platform for the information age.”

Created as part of the AHRC-funded project 'Filipina Nature Writing for Environmental Justice', both this, and the video essay The Saving Tree (nominated for Doctoral Award or Early Career Film) are two of the films showcasing the women’s unique perspectives as well as their challenges and experiences of the natural environment. The content for these videos were produced over a series of participatory writing workshops involving both research inquiry and creative expression.

Brett adds: “This film depicts a community's intimate relationship to the land in rural Pampanga, the Philippines. It was written by a proud and fiercely committed group of women who have engaged in a decade long struggle for secure tenure. I am very pleased that being shortlisted for this award will mean more people will see and understand the depth of their relationship to the land they call home.”

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Missed Call

Victoria Mapplebeck, Royal Holloway, University of London

Filmed on an iPhone X, Missed Call explores the filmmaker’s relationship with her teenage son, as they discuss how to go about reconnecting with his father who has been absent for over a decade.

Victoria, who is a Reader in Digital Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London and has spent the last four years experimenting with smartphone film production, explains more: “The film begins with the last email [my son’s] father sent in 2006 and ends with the first phone call to him over a decade later. The photos, videos and texts archived in our phones, provide a road map of our digital past. Missed Call explores the ways in which we can collect, curate and share these digital memories, reflecting on how our lives are lived and archived via the phones we hold so close.

“The smartphone has transformed how we document the world we live in, both inside and outside the home. For my son, a smartphone was a lot less intimidating than a larger camera and I find the increased access and spontaneity of filming with the iPhone X completely liberating.”

One of the judges said it was ‘poignant, beautifully constructed and told’ and was impressed by how the director ‘had used old photos, video clips; reconstructed texting sequences and web searches, to tell the story and enhance the emotional journey.’

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The Born-Free Generation, Phendulani's Story and Me

Professor Paul Cooke, University of Leeds

This trailer was part of a social media campaign to raise awareness of the longer version of The Born-Free Generation, Phendulani's Story and Me (shortlisted for Best Research Film). The film was made as a product of the AHRC-funded project ‘Troubling the National Brand and Voicing Hidden Histories’. The film highlights the story of Phendulani, one of the project participants, and his view of the legacy of apartheid in South Africa. It was distributed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and specifically marketed at relevant stakeholder groups (e.g. UNICEF, Hope and Homes for Children, National Film and Video Foundation, Comic Relief, etc).

Paul became Professor of World Cinemas and the Director of the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures at the University of Leeds in 2012, and began making films with young people just two years ago. His work has focussed on using film to help the groups of young people to raise awareness of issues that are important to them but that they feel are ignored, or misrepresented, in the mainstream media.

Paul commented: “I can’t believe that we’ve been shortlisted for this award. Working with Bishop Simeon Trust and the vulnerable young people they support in South African Townships has been life changing for me. They’re an amazing bunch with incredible talent. This nomination will help to raise awareness of their situation and our continuing work together. I hope there will be lots more films to come!”

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Mobility, Mood and Place

Professor Catharine Ward Thompson, University of Edinburgh

This animation is one of a number of practical, non-academic outputs from Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP), an AHRC-funded project which explores how places can be designed collaboratively to support outdoor activity, health, wellbeing and community engagement as people age. Promoted through social media, the animation has been both widely admired and shared. Moray Council’s Principal Planning Officer described it as ‘interesting and inspiring’ and the council have already been showing it to stakeholders as part of a series of short films on planning issues as well as to groups on how to better align land use planning with healthcare objectives.

Catharine explains more: “The animation is the first I’ve been involved with making - I am a landscape architect by training. Although I and others in my research team have been filmed talking about our research, I have never before been responsible for the creation of one, so it’s been an exciting experience. It is part of our work to make the research findings of projects more accessible to everyone and especially to those whom we ultimately hope will benefit.

“The film illustrates key findings from our Mobility, Mood and Place project. It shows how the planning and design of everyday environments can support healthy and active ageing, and is aimed at everyone, from politicians to the general public. It was produced by animator Kevin Morris, with the support of our Mobility, Mood and Place communicator Máire Cox, and reflects findings from across our expert multidisciplinary team of researchers. We are delighted that it has been so well received by policymakers, planning officers and third sector groups, and that the Arts and Humanities Research Council have recognised its merits by shortlisting it for this award.”

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George Harrison: The Story of the Beatles and Indian Music Performance Teaser

Chen-Yu Lin, University of Liverpool

On the night of the 9th June 2017, a concert titled The Last Untold Beatles Story took place in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. This unique performance was led by the research conducted by Dr Mike Jones, from the Department of Music, University of Liverpool, and identified four Indian musicians who had recorded with the Beatles but had not been credited or recognised in the past. In this concert, the musicians were introduced to the audience for the first time.

Those musicians are the late Anna Joshi and Amrit Gajjar (dilruba); and Sikh temple musician Buddhadev Kansara (tamboura) and Natwar Soni (table). They performed on George Harrison's landmark composition Within You, Without You on the Sgt. Pepper's album. This short film is composed of the highlight of the concert along with interviews with the musicians backstage, and the audience's responses.

Filmmaker, Chen-Yu Lin and Charlotte Sawyer have also documented the rehearsals and filmed the surviving musicians at their homes as well as their journey up to Liverpool. Chen Yu explains more: “This film not only sums up the concert, it also plays an important role of communicating this research to the general public, the industry partners and the family of the musicians.

“The aim of the next stage is to develop this film into a longer form of documentary.”

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