A film made by the Future Pasts research project led from Bath Spa University’s 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.
The film, showcased recently 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.
~ Postscript ~
We did not win the award, but we were honoured to attend the award ceremony with a delegation consisting of Mamokobo film director Andy Botelle, representative of the Damara King's Festival Organising Committee Rosa Namises, FP research collaborator Welhemina Suro Ganuses, BBC film producer Robin Denselow, FP co-investigator Angela Impey and principal investigator Sian Sullivan.
We received a great review of the award ceremony in The Namibian newspaper:
Rosa Namises of the Damara King's Festival Organising Committee writes of the Damara King's Festival film that 'the film will bring pride and confidence in our past and re-build our future' and says,
By you producing this Future Pasts film of this festival, we now have one of the first professional archives of our event. By you allowing us to use this film this adds a sense of pride, ownership and a longer term partnership with you in this valuable project you are bringing to Namibia.
Confirming the heritage and educational significance of the film, copies were requested by the Museums Association of Namibia for inclusion as part of a schools heritage package in the 2017 School Clubs and Museum Exhibitions Competition (SCAMX) involving schools through the country. SCAMX is designed to encourage learners to take an interest in the diverse heritage practices in Namibia and to 'enhance innovation and transformative intellectual development amongst the youth'.
 The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe. You can find out more information via www.ahrc.ac.uk or by following Twitter at @ahrcpress, on Facebook at Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.
 2017 AHRC Research in Film Awards Shortlist:
3.1: Best Research Film of the Year
The Acting Class; Michael Wayne (Brunel University)
Dark Matters - Interrogating thresholds of (Im)perceptibility through Theoretical Cosmology, Fine Art & Anthropology of science; Daniel Morrell (Lancaster University)
Ugwumpiti; Eithne Nightingale (Queen Mary, University of London)
Pain in the Machine; Dr Beth Singler (University of Cambridge)
David Hawkins: A Battle of the Mind; The Hidden Persuaders Project (Birkbeck, University of London)
3.2: Doctoral Award or Early Career Film
Northern Irish Masculinity: Wounds and the Peace Process; Edwin Coomasaru (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
Unearthing Elephant; Sarah Butler (Open University)
“Schrödinger’s Shoreditch”; Matthew Holman (University College London)
A Queering of Memory: Parts 1 & 2; Timothy Smith (The University of the Arts London)
Quantified Life; Btihaj Ajana (King's College, London)
3.3 International Development Award: Mobilising Global Voices
The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka; Dr Joanne Catherine Jordan (University of Manchester)
My FGM Story; Judy Aslett (University of Sussex)
Tabuluja (Wake up); Jasper Chalcraft (University of Sussex)
The Damara King's Festival; Sian Sullivan (Bath Spa University)
Zanzibar Soccer Dreams ; Florence Ayisi (University of South Wales)
3.4 Innovation Award
Mining the Memories: Coke Not Coal; Jennifer Granville (Leeds Beckett University)
Hunger by the Sea; Sue Sudbury (Bournemouth University)
Going for a Song; Bartolomeo Meletti (University of Glasgow)
The Shampoo Summit; Iris Zaki (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Mothers Make Contemporary Art; Professor Susan Hogan (University of Derby)
3.5 Inspiration Award (public category)
A Girl of No Importance; Anya Camilleri
Greater Than Love; Alejandra Jiménez
Whirlpool; Kate Baxter
Make It Right; Lotje Sodderland
Circo Para Todos; Andres Morales
 The awards were judged by a panel of academic and film industry experts, including:
Jan Dalley, Chair of the Judging Panel and Arts Editor of the Financial Times
Danny Leigh, writer, broadcaster and presenter
Matthew Reisz, Times Higher Education
Professor Tom Inns, Director, Glasgow School of Art
Anthony Lilley, CEO, Magic Lantern Productions
Joanna Callaghan, University of Sussex
Professor Rajinder Dudrah, University of Birmingham
Professor Mark Jancovich, University of East Anglia
Professor Lucy Mazdon, University of Southampton
Steve Evanson, TV Producer
Professor Andrew Chitty, AHRC Creative Economy Champion
Lord (Wilf) Stevenson of Balmacara, Former Director of the British Film Institute
Richard Davidson-Houston, Head of All 4, Channel 4 Television
Dr Katherine Cooper, University of East Anglia
Lindsay Mackie, co-founder of Film Club
Please note: The hashtag for this year’s Research in Film Awards is #RIFA2017