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Techologically Ill wins Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize 2019

Project

Noemie Degiorgis’ transformative short documentary, Technologically Ill, won the Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize at this year’s visual anthropology screening, Resolutionaries.

 

‘In today’s reality we find ourselves so connected yet more emotionally disconnected than ever. Technologically Ill explores this paradoxical idea. In the new geological epoch of the Anthropocene or the Age of Humans, we notice the omnipresence of technologies around us. We do not however talk much about the impact these devices have on our well-being and more specifically on mental health issues. This film focuses on two persons who have completely different use of technologies which enabled me to create a discussion and contrast between them and their relationship to technology and more specifically their smartphones.’

 

 

 

 

What’s Eating Tom, Thomas Milroy’s intimately told exploration of male eating disorders received a Special Commendation.

 

 

 

Thomas Milroy receives a special commendation from Professor Hugh Brody.

Noemie Degiorgis receives the Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resolutionaries 2019

Project

Matt Rose introduces the event with a poem.

 

Welcome and thank you for coming.  Before the films get up and running I’d like to invite us all to reflect on why we’re here and why we should care. The ideas shared today bare directly from the socially bound places and inherent relations that each film maker found themselves in. From Emilia’s discovery of the wasted abundance in bins to the experiences of reclaiming stolen power reflected by Kim. Through the woodlands and music venues of Canterbury, to the daily realities of several Greece based refugees this journey will take us through the moments of lives embodied to us through the camera’s eye. In the manifestations of what each found you will find a range of reactions to the interrelated social situations by which we’re bound. Although divided by geographical locations our films share a specific space in time and today we come together to reflect on where we’ve got to, as a rapidly dying planet inhabited by divided people, inherently unequal, these films speak to the realities that many go through – some positive, others much less so. As a planet we have many issues to solve and too much lonesome focus on this can become a minefield to behold. But together we are strong. Let the recent extinction rebellion remind us of the power of collective action against that which is wrong. And perhaps together we can come a step closer to embodying the, title of this event: Resolutionaries. Now I think that all that’s left to say is a big thank you to our judges: the alumni, Yasmin Fedda and Hugh Brody. Thank you very much, and enjoy.

 

To watch the films and learn more about them please click on the below links.

To get a taste of all the films in order watch our trailer:

To see which films won awards scroll down.

 

 

 

 

THE PROGRAMME

The Tree Lover                 Alex Clay
Lady Luck                    Gavin Knight

Technologically Ill         Noemie Degiorgis

Sofi MX                  Ghislaine Howard

 

 

L to R-Ghislaine Howard, Alex Clay, Gavin Knight, Noemie Degiorgis

 

RECREATE

Warmth Through Movement            Carolina Rodriquez-Navarro
In the Making                           Stella Pitsillidou
Under the Archways                         Tom Banks
F.I.L.T.H                                             Hana Jeal

Tom Banks and Hana Jeal

 

RECLAIM

Who Am We?                        Meredith Ament
Ms                                                  Lizzie Millard
Catholicist                                       Lucy Evans
Flowering Rapeseed      Kimberley Ubendran
What’s Eating Tom                  Thomas Milroy

 

L to R- Kimberley Ubendran, Lizzie Millard, Thomas Milroy, Lucy Evans, Meredith Ament

 

REBEL

Whose Future? Whose Climate?    Matt Rose
Appropriating Icons              Georgios Ntazos
Fashion Swarm                    Georgia Buckland
Bins to Banquets                   Emilia Brumpton

L to R-Matt Rose, Emilia Brumpton, Georgios Ntazos, Georgia Buckland

 

 

 

 

RECEPTION and REACTIONS

THE AWARDS

Public Engagement Prize
Dedicated to Lynn Bicker &
Martin Ripley -Awarded by Rob
Fish

 

Georgia Buckland receiving the Public Engagement Prize from Dr Rob Fish, Director of Research in SAC.

Awarded for the website Future Fashion Index

 

New Horizons Prize
Awarded by Dr Yasmin Fedda

 

Ghislaine Howard receives a Special Commendation from Dr Yasmin Fedda

 

Hana Jeal receives the New Horizons Prize awarded by Dr Yasmin Fedda

 

New Horizons Prize- Hana Jeal for F.I.L.T.H

New Horizons Special Commendation- Ghislaine Howard for Sofi MX

 

Alumni Prize
Awarded by Francesca Tesler &
Johannes Walter

 

 

Emilia Brumpton receives a special commendation.

Kimberly Ubendran receives the Alumni Prize

Alumni Prize-Kimberly Ubendran for Flowering Rapeseed

Alumni Special Commendation-Emilia Brumpton for  Bins to Banquets

 

 

 

Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize
Awarded by Professor Hugh Brody

Watch Professor Hugh Brody’s commentary on all the films here.

 

Thomas Milroy receives a special commendation from Professor Hugh Brody.

Noemie Degiorgis receives the Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize

 

 

 

For wonderful photography in the dark we thank- Ollie (Oliver) Trapnell

Invitation to Resolutionaries 2019-Rebel-Recreate-Reclaim

Project

 

Dear students, friends, alumni and supporters of visual anthropology at Kent,

In the year when Extinction Rebellion protests caught the public imagination and led to the declaration of a climate emergency of the UK Government we would like to share with you seventeen films that capture our students’ filmic positions on contemporary experience and the challenges and opportunities we face.

We have chosen to create a title, RESOLUTIONARIES, that captures our desire to fight for solutions to address those challenges. The tagline, REBEL- RECLAIM- RECREATE, encapsulates the route to solutions but also describes the themes of the seventeen short ethnographic documentaries we will screen on Wednesday 29th May in the Gulbenkian Cinema.

 

The day is a  celebration of our students visual anthropological film-making creativity, honesty and engagement. We will have four prizes that reflect the value we put on video as research and intervention. Yasmin Fedda returns to award the New Horizons Prize, informed by her award winning documentary films and PhD research in transdisciplinary films. There will be a public engagement prize, funded by Allan Bicker in memory of Lynn Bicker and Martin Ripley, and awarded on the basis of the students interactive websites. This will be awarded by our  Director of Research, Rob Fish.

We welcome back some of our prize winning alumni from last year, Francesca Tesler and Johannes Walter, who will award a prize on behalf of our alumni. We look forward to learning how they are and how they are using their visual anthropological skills now. The alumni prize is for the film that best captures their excitement of the value of film in their current jobs, study and activity.

We are always happy to welcome Professor Hugh Brody to award the Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize and continue his longstanding support of our programme. This prize is awarded to the most exceptional film in visual anthropological terms. Professor Hugh Brody is an inspiring anthropologist, writer, director and filmmaker whose films are informed by a deep respect for indigenous knowledge, particularly in Canada.

Please invite friends and interested students through our facebook event.

The events starts at 11.15 on Wednesday 29th May. There will be a vegan and vegetarian lunch  at 12.30. Feel free to attend all or separate sections. Each session will be followed by a Q and A of the filmmakers. After the event there will be drinks in the Gulbenkian, followed by food and drinks in the Monument from 7.15, the only vegan pub in Canterbury.

We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Mike Poltorak

 

Transparencies Report

June 13, 2018

ukvisualanth

 

Introduction

TRANSPARENCIES 2018  celebrated the creativity and initiative of our students,  how they gave of themselves and collaborated to be able to realise the films they wanted. This year we awarded five prizes, each with distinct criteria. Professor Hugh Brody awarded the Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize.

Professor Paul Allain awarded prizes for films that uniquely revealed presence and embodiment. Yasmin Fedda awarded the New Horizons Prize. A Public Engagement Prize in memory of Lynn Bicker and Martin Ripley was awarded by Joe Spence. Visiting Alumni, Charlotte Austwick, Hannah Evans and Alice-Amber Keegan awarded the Alumni Audience Award. You can read more about the prizes and what stood out in the films that were awarded below. The prizes give recognition to exceptional projects, but they also extend the audience and reach of the conversation the films initiate as audio visual gifts. The alumni lunch was an opportunity for current students to hear from alumni what new horizons are open to them. You can view below the video messages from Christiane Howe in Australia, Ruth Krause in Germany and Soffia Kristinsdottir in Costa Rica.

The cultural association of film with entertainment means we are very used to consuming documentaries and then moving onto the next one. While the documentary may seem to be the end result of the process of the filmmaker, for us the viewing can be the start of a journey.  All the films screened today have emerged out of unique personal histories and intentions. They are the media manifestations of personal research journeys that gives us cause for conversation and reflection. The symbolic cameras (see below in brochure) was one artistic way that the students communicate this is in a material form.  They speak to the issues and concerns addressed in the films while revealing or hinting at the personal intentions of the filmmakers. That is why it is really important to see the films as the start of a conversation, as an audio-visual gift to us and wider audiences, to reflect and learn more about our place in the world and our aspirations for the world we want to live in.

The Q and A after each series of films was an opportunity to start that conversation by exploring how the films spoke to each other. Another opportunity are the interactive websites in which you can learn more about the intentions of the films and how they are located within visual anthropology and social anthropology more broadly. The Public Engagement prize is explicit recognition of the interactive website and its ability to reach out to wider audiences. To view the films and learn more about the projects through the interactive websites click on the links below. We encourage you to make comments on their websites to reciprocate the audio-visual gift.

With thirty one films Transparencies 2018  was the largest screening of visual anthropology projects in the long history of visual anthropology at Kent. It necessitated two parallel screenings in the morning, in the Gulbenkian Cinema and Marlowe Lecture Theatre 2.

 

1. GULBENKIAN CINEMA

MIGRANT REALITIES

Alex Douglas-Bailey and Shalini Arias Hurtado during the Q and A. Photo-Jess Moorhouse

Our first series of films explored the challenges of migration and the current refugee crisis. For Alex Douglas Bailey her Jamaican father is the focus of her exploration. Shalini Arias Hurtado travels to Berlin to try and meet refugees in the Tempelhof refugee centre. Ellie Bush travels to the Calais jungle refugee camp to learn about the life of volunteers. Liam Rowan takes us on a powerfully visual journey, pregnant with repeating motifs, that force reflection on our engagement with migration as we join Liam on a walk to Dover.

Hingland, Alex Douglas Bailey
Multi-faceted Realities, Shalini Arias Hurtado
Wendeing, Liam Rowan
We are Here, Ellie Bush

 

Images from WENDEING, were used for our poster above.

 

ART-IDENTITIES

These three films use artistry as their methodology or focus of exploration. Sophie Bell’s focus is her sister’s band and their inspirations. Judith explores sexuality and art practice in a creative and inspirational way. Aadam Khan richly produced soundscapes and pointed interviews encourage us to better feel and understand anxiety.

Off Topic: The Rehearsal, Sophie Bell
Making Identity, Judith Allen
Panic is the Word, Aadam Khan

 

NATURES

Nature is explored in three very distinct ways in these three moving films.  In Forest Alone, Georgious Ntazos, makes us aware of the forest in and around campus and the politics and effects of coppicing. What do the trees think is his underlying question? Liona Jupolli narrates a mystical exploration into her experience of Jungian synchronicity. The future of the planet and climate change is explored through the motivations of Miguel Alexiades’ Anthropocene module, in Liam Hodgetts film.

Forest Alone, Georgios Ntazos
Synchronicity, Liona Jupolli
The Anthropocene Module, Liam Hodgetts

 

2.  MARLOWE SCREENING ROOM, MLT2

SIMULATION

From the mysteries of mapping, via the creation of community in Margate and ghosts in Canterbury to the five rings of combat, these films take us on a journey of simulation in and around Canterbury.

Cartefacts, James Cusens
Creating Communities, Maya Shaw
Boo Canterbury, Kate Pickersgill
The Five Rings, Luke Perry

 

INBETWEEN

Alice Brucass during the Q and A.

 

These three films that encourage our appreciation of the inbetween. Andrew Brittain, explores the political situation in his native Ashford, Derya Iyaz, goes on a journey to Whitstable with a local busker and Alice Brucass counterposes two different ideas of masculinity.

A Splash of Red in a Sea of Blue, Andrew Brittain
The Busker, Derya Iyaz
Masc, Alice Brucass

 

 

 

 

CHANGE

Danielle Fletcher and Aisha Al-Abdallah during the Q and A. Photo-Jess Moorhouse

These films demand our attention to their desire for change. Just Listen is Aisha Al-Abdallah’s creative exploration of young women of colour, their voices are powerfully critical and emotive. Rowan Mohammed asks for an appreciation of what it means to be non-binary. Danielle Fletcher, takes us on her journey of transformation to her new found activism.

Just Listen, Aisha Al-Abdallah
Breaking the Binary, Rowan Mohammed
Glass Walls, Danielle Fletcher

 

Symbolic Cameras

Transparencies Brochure (Inner Pages)

 

ALUMNI LUNCH AND MESSAGES

We were very happy to welcome alumni to the lunch and to screen messages from visual anthropology alumni. Our current students wanted to know  where current alumni are and how they got into their current jobs.

 

Ruth Krause now works at a video journalist, Tv reporter and producer for DW, the German International TV station. She mainly covers environmental topics in Latin America and Africa.

Soffia Kristinsdottir. won the Hugh Brody runner up prize in 2016 for ‘Asocial‘. She sends her message from the Pura Vida Hostel in Costa Rica.

Christiane Howe’s film, the ‘Unification Movement‘ received a special commendation at our Inter-Reflexions event in 2014. She is now co-director of ‘Double Vision Documentaries‘ a company created with her twin sister that focuses on women’s rock climbing. They are currently travelling the world, filming and producing as they go.

AFTERNOON

GULBENKIAN CINEMA

Transparencies Brochure (Back Page)

 

 

HAVENS

L to R. Tom Hessom, Adriana Cotkova, Jess Moorhouse & Gabriele Zukauskaite

Being There, Jess Moorhouse
The Nail that Sticks Out, Thomas Hessom
Of Sizzlers and Men, Adriana Cotkova
Boats and Forests, Gabriele Zukauskaite

A local gaming store is the focus of Jess Moorhouse’s loving examination of Canterbury’s haven of gaming. Thomas Hessom meets Japanese young people and journeys with them to understand their idea of home. Cafe des Amis will never be same after you go behind the scenes with Adrian Cotkova’s roving camera. Gabriele Zukauskaite’s focus is home education, we meet those who were home educated, those who home educate and those who intend to.

 

 

 

 

Johannes Walter (middle right), asks question.

Ameera of Aisha Al-Abdallah’s “Just Listen’ contributes to discussion.

 

OUT ON A LIMB

Out on a Limb Q & A. L to R. Sundarii Hernandez Pereyra, Johannes Walter and Ellie Middlemass (For Maddie Spencer)

Go Kambak, Johannes Walter
Surviving, Sundarii Hernandez Pereyra
Jack and I, Madeline Spencer

These films go out on a limb. Johannes Walter travels to the Orkney Islands, to reconnect a Ni Vanuatu woman to her family with photos and video of her family. Surviving is powerfully truthful, ironic, cathartic and inspirational. It confronts us with our assumptions ‘We are all suffering, let’s be honest’. Madeline Spencer tries to understand her brother and mend the relationship in this moving journey to the past. We are left uplifted.

 

 

Aisha Al-Abdallah (Just Listen) centre asks question during Q and A.

 

ACTIVE FUTURES

Active Futures Q & A. L to R. Milly Wernerus, Ellie Middlemass, Francesca Tesler and Emily Malkin.

Furusato, Francesca Tesler
Respect Existence or Expect Resistance, Emily Malkin
A Tale of Growing Old, Eleanor Clare Middlemass
Off Grid: A Day in the Life, Milly Wernerus

These four films subtly suggest solutions to the challenges of being active in the future. Furusato focuses on a Zen Buddhist Japanese temple in London. Emily Malkin takes us on a deeply personal journey of activism in three parts, each a different facet of our need to act for change. Ellie MacPherson uses the camera to better know her grandfather, whose ailing eyesight means he will never see the film. Milly Wernerus takes us to a snowy forest to understand the joys and possibilities of living off-grid.

 

 

PRIZE GIVING

 

Current SAC PhD student Joe Spence showed a trailer and gave an update on ‘From the Cubby with Love’  which won the Audience Prize last year in last year’s Caremotions.  He then awarded the prize for public engagement in memory of Lynn Bicker and Martin Ripley, one of the subjects of ‘From the Cubby with Love’. This award was funded by Alan Bicker.

 

Public Engagement Prize

Winner

 

Jack and I, Madeleine Spencer

Madeline Spencer, in her film “Jack and I”, charts the changing relationship between her and her brother through childhood and up to the present day. This deeply intimate and personal account accentuates the fragilities of family life whilst softly voicing the importance of reunification and forgiveness in the wake of rupture. Spencer’s project is especially courageous given that it not only engages, but attempts to reconcile through film making, painful and potentially unresolved tensions between loved ones. As the credits rolled her audience appeared moved, perhaps guided to reflect on their own lives and family trajectories; emboldened even, to account for lost time and rectify ‘the gap’ (as Spencer puts it) in those relationships. In accompaniment to her film, Spencer offers a well-structured and easily navigable website, populated with a variety of audio/visual materials and engaging reflexive commentaries as to the production process. This is a film for anybody who has known separation in their family, and a hopeful reminder as to the possibility of reconciliation. (Joe Spence)

 

Ellie MacPherson receives the Prize on behalf of Maddie Spencer. Shalini Arias Hurtado constructed the trophy.

 

Runner Up

Glass Walls, Danielle Fletcher

Danielle Fletcher, in her film “Glass Walls”, sets out on a mission to an Essex Pig Save event to discover for herself, whether popular media perceptions of animal rights activists are justified. The film maker takes centre stage, declaring her biases at the outset and expressing humility to reconsider her opinions based on her observations. This reflexive approach successfully engages popular audiences, who are encouraged to remain similarly open minded to new ways of thinking. In contrast with many films on the topic of animal rights, which rely on authoritative and grotesque images to force messages across (for example see Earthlings 2005), Fletcher employs powerful subtlety and restraint. Much is left to the audience’s imagination, and it is this clever omission of ‘shock tactics’ which creates room for more productive dialogue across ideological divides. In addition to the film Fletcher offers a website where video diaries draw audiences deeper into the production process, and a directory of activist resources implore continued engagement with the subject. All considered, Fletcher serves up a masterclass in public engagement. (Joe Spence)

 

Danielle Fletcher receives the Public Engagement runner up prize for her interactive website and film, Glass Walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Allain Prize

Johannes Walter receives the Paul Allain Prize. The prize was constructed by Danielle Fletcher.

Winner The Paul Allain Prize

Go KambakJohannes Walter

This film won because of its capacity to shift time and space as film can do as well as its moving content. Its main focus was on a young mother looking at photos of her extended family, taken by Johannes, now separated by years and 1000s of miles – from Vanuatu to Orkney. Johannes, as filmmaker, was the catalyst that collided these things together. The impact on the film’s protagonist was extraordinary for how she reacted: laughing, crying, swearing, gasping, often all at the same time. The camera just watched, impassive. Her reactions revealed the pain of separation, the joy of discovery, the celebration of memories which coursed through her body and voice as she grabbed at and drunk in the photographs, presented to us witnesses by being overlayed on to the film. Although not technically perfect, it demonstrated the power of the simplicity of allowing a remarkable human story to be told through film.’ (Paul Allain).

 

 

 

 

 

The Paul Allain Prize was constructed by Danielle Fletcher to represent the criteria of the award.

 

Liona Jupolli receives the Paul Allain Runner Up Prize.

Runner up

SynchronicityLiona Jupolli

Liona was brave and bold in all her choices and was so actively engaged both with and in her film. It was creative and risky, sometimes beautiful. It didn’t always work, yet was pushing at what was possible and, as a result, I immediately wanted to see it again, to understand more. Why were she and her group dancing in the streets and underpasses of Barcelona? What did her dance through Canterbury bluebells tell us about her simple one word title, her theme? Her own investment in her work somehow made us seek our own synchronicity with it. Such attempts and creativity are surely to be celebrated.‘ (Paul Allain)

 

 

 

New Horizons Prize

The New Horizons prize was awarded by the  award-winning documentary filmmaker Yasmin Fedda, whose films have focused on themes from Edinburgh bakeries to Syrian monasteries. Her films have been BAFTA-nominated and screened at numerous international festivals including Sundance. Her undergraduate background in anthropology and master’s training in visual anthropology at Manchester was inspiring to many students.

Jess Moorhouse receives the New Horizons Prize from Yasmin Fedda. The trophy was constructed by Georgios Ntazos.

 

Winner: Being There by Jess Moorhouse

This film gently takes the audience into another world: of gaming, community, play and fun. Jesse took us into a gamers’ space by visually presenting the room where they regularly meet. By focusing on the details on the specific games, and on the social aspects, like sharing a plate of baklava, and having fun and arguments over the specific rules of games, the importance of this space emerges. It is a space to explore imaginary worlds and to build meaningful friendships. By gaining an understanding of how these games works for the players – as short term or long terms endeavor, with rules from which to navigate them, new worlds can be imagined on a board, and yet more broadly, this film also opens up the question of how we also imagine the physical worlds we live in, imagining its new horizons.’ (Yasmin Fedda)
 

Rowan Mohammed receives the New Horizons Runner Up Prize from Yasmin Fedda.

Runnner up: Breaking the Binary by Rowan Mohammed

A playful and positive portrayal with young non-binary people, this film opens up a conversation and insight into their experiences. Through intimate conversations, and the directors own experiences inter-cut throughout the film,  it left the audience wanting to hear more of the developing conversation. This film is a great starting point for Breaking the Binary, and in exploring new horizons in the discussions and experiences of identity.’ (Yasmin Fedda).
Rowan Mohammed explains why the film is not available to view online:

Breaking The Binary (‘We do not exist!’) was a conversation starter on the existence of gender non-binary people. That is, people who are neither strictly man nor strictly woman, but any combination of between, both, and not. Mostly it was a snapshot of non-binary individuals as real people (wild, right), with a splash of the fact that there does not yet exist any formal legal structures that recognise the status of being not of the binary. The fact that this film cannot be shown without worry is point towards the precarious situation non-binary and other trans people may face. There is, however, increasing material out there on the existence of non-binary people, and it is with my hope that films like these may be shown freely in the future.” Rowan Mohammed

 

Alumni Audience Award

This award replaced our previous audience prize and acknowledges the importance of our alumni’s engagement and support of our students in making the next step in their journey as visual anthropological filmmakers and researchers.

Charlotte Austwick won the Hugh Brody Runner Up Prize for her film ‘Welcome to the Country’ that was screened in Resolations 2015. She recently worked as a film co-ordinator for the Kenya Quest Expedition, a wildlife conservation and humanitarian aid expedition. Hannah Evans  screened her film ‘About Dad’ in Resolations 2015. After graduation she worked in the Campaigns Teams at Restless Development, the youth- led International Development Agency, drawing on her experience volunteering at Amnesty International UK. She left Restless to be a Team Leader with the Youth- Citizenship NGO Pravah, in India, supporting a team of young people in a community engagement programme in Rajasthan. She is now working as Programme Coordinator for Wikimedia UK- focusing on their diversity target to make Wikipedia a more diverse source of open knowledge. Alice-Amber Keegan  graduated in 2015 and after teaching English in China for a year is now doing a funded PhD at Durham University on birthing centres and parenting.

 

Sundarii Hernandez Pereyra receives the Alumni Audience prize from Charlotte Austwick, Hannah Evans and Alice-Amber Keegan.

 

This old Super 8 camera will be engraved with the winner of the Alumni Audience Award each year. It symbolizes the vital connection to our Alumni network in supporting and inspiring our current students and helping develop the direction of visual anthropology at Kent.

 

Aadam Khan receives the Alumni Audience runner-up prize from Charlotte Austwick, Alice-Amber Keegan and Hannah Evans.

 

Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize

In November 2017 Professor Hugh Brody received an honorary doctorate at the University of Kent in recognition of decades of research and work with indigenous peoples. You can view his inspirational speech to graduands at the Graduation Ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral from 6.00.

Professor Jim Groombridge, our Head of School, introduces him at the beginning of the clip.

 

 

 

Unfortunately Professor Hugh Brody was not able to join us in person, but he viewed a selection of films and made comments on them. Dr Rob Fish, our Director of Research, stepped in to share Hugh’s comments and make his own comments of the day. He speaks about how the screening served as an introduction to the department and how the films speak to you in your own experiences.

 

 

Gabriele Zukauskaite. –    Boats And Forests

 ‘The narrow boat gliding along a canal is captivating, and the interview that sets up the first part of the film is beautifully shot. I loved the image of the young mother filmed from a low angle, standing up against the sky, the sun and its beams of light behind her head.  She stood there tall and strong, with strong and clear words about life and children. I also liked the way tight shots were used – the tying up of the boat, for example, to create a sense of watching closely, of being there.  Then the fade out at the end of the boats section and cut to the children and then a wonderful shot of two feet at each side of the frame, and a fallen tree, the forest, holding the centre of the image. And the final line is so great:  ‘Don’t have children if you can’t be nice to them.  It’s not that hard.

 

Adriana Cotkova –  Of Sizzlers and Men

‘The restaurant, the place where “an intimate art should be shared in lightly” –  that’s a great thought to set up the feel as well as a theme of this film.  I was fascinated by the place itself, the work, the energy and enthusiasm. And the images worked brilliantly to take us there and hold us.  The camera work is so good, as is the sound quality; and I liked the flow of the edit, the use of such strong material to make it even stronger. I thought that the mix of interview with fly-on-the-wall observation was very skilfully done.  Everyone seemed so at ease with the presence of the camera.  Classical documentary being done well!There are many powerful images, but I especially liked the shot through the window, with cacti in the foreground and an outside world beyond.  Also the window cleaner, at that same window – wonderful!  A very compelling and elegantly made film.’

 

 

Ellie Bush – We are Here

This is a film close to my heart – I spent some time at that warehouse in Calais a couple of years ago, and it was a treat to be taken back there.  And a treat to see how this film reminded us that the refugee problem at Calais did not go away just because the authorities there brutally cleared the Jungle camp. The opening of this film is especially strong, I thought, both for its images of posters and the intensity of the sound-track. I found the shot of the two people in the front of the car, driving along and sharing thoughts about wha they are doing to be very compelling.  Light problems within the warehouse were obviously quite a challenge, but the interview with the organiser there is still compelling. It was good, and important, to be in Calais, realising that the refugees are sleeping rough, having their tents wrecked or impounded by local police.  Many thanks to Ellie Bush for this.

Emily Malkin –   Respect Existence or Expect Resistance

 ‘What a great title for a film!  And it is a great film – impressive in many ways, but especially because it takes us to a flow of protests. I was particular impressed by the NHS demo sequence, knowing how hard it can be to get voices from within a large and noise event.  Each face seemed to be a reason for hope. The cut to the plastic sequence was wonderful, and the sudden appearance of a beautiful beach, and then the image of the bits and pieces of plastic that had been gathered and, as someone says, begins to look like an art work. But the powerful surprise in this film was the shift to the father-daughter relationship, the two of them sitting together, a little self-conscious – not because of the camera, I thought, but because that’s the way it often is between fathers and daughters: the image, the set up, the way the camera was placed, captured something so true and somehow magical.  And crucial to understanding the genesis of this film, and of resistance itself. And then the final shot, of the lorry loaded with pigs heading into the abattoir – expressing both failure to save the pigs and a continuing resolve to resist. This is a strong and powerful film.’

 

Johannes Walter  –  Go Kambak

‘I loved this back and forth between Vanuatu and some cold northern part of the British Isles.  The contrasts of climate, pace, voice. The earlier footage, giving glimpses of Vanuatu and of the people we meet, is fascinating.  Even the speeded up and blurred quality – creating a paradox: the place where life moves slowly is rushing along – making a point about memory perhaps; but making me think. I found myself very much liking the film-maker as gentle source of reminders – questions, interest and then photographs.  Then the astonishing sequence when Donnelyn is laughing and weeping, all at the same time, in a single complicated burst of feelings, when looking at photos of those she loves who are far far away. I also liked the way some of the stills she is looking at are set into the left side of the frame, so we see the image and her. The final images, carrying the  end credits, are unforgettable: using a horizontally split screen to show the two roads, the one in Vanuatu, the other where the family now lives…. Wonderful.   Then the last words:  ‘I have sent the film back…’Maybe this breaks the rules on length, but it’s a pleasure to watch!’

 

Francesca Tesler. –  Furusato

I very much liked the way this began with a screen split into three, and then resolving into just the one.  Then the move into a Buddhist ceremony – we don’t know where we are, or what is going on…. All this shot with elegance. The interview with the Buddhist priest is wonderful – the way he holds a sheet of paper, his notes for what he wants to tell us perhaps, but never looks at them… His quiet dignity.  This interview set a tone for the film – this is about something of such deep importance to all who are part of it.  And it is a celebration of culture carried by the strength of the images and the quality of the sound.  (Though I was sorry that the long prayer did not get translated and subtitled.) As I began to realise that this was culture in exile, the film became more and more compelling.  And the wonderful, central thought:  cultural practice can be sustained, and given all kinds of new intensity because it is not taking place ‘at home’.  So the commitment to what we see is coming from having left where it originated. The shots of the box and the cupboard at then seemed to be full of poignancy.  The whole film fascinating and beautifully made.’

 

Jess Moorhouse  –  Being There

‘This is perhaps the most surprising of the films I saw: people playing board games….I very much liked the way the film shows us games and the way they are played with very strong and fascinating images and glimpses of all the strange complexity of utterly unfamiliar rules and counters and dice.  And I liked the way we went from evening to evening, with a sense that each was special.  The camera work to show all this is strong and clear. But for me the power of this film came from something else: as I watched I was suddenly very moved by what it meant for these young men and women to gather together and play games.  I felt I was being taken to a powerful if underlying issue of loneliness, and the combating of loneliness. There is a quality to this film that is gentle and respectful – for me, it is these qualities that gave it its strong and surprising intensity of feeling.  A fascinating piece of work.’

 

Milly Wernerus  –  Off Grid A day in the life

The snow is a character in this film – I loved the way it seemed to be happening in some very remote northern world.  Was I being transported to the Canadian subarctic?  This made the idea of living off the grid so real and especially compelling. I very much liked the sequences that showed the working of wood.  These are beautifully shot, and I thought I could watch forever this remaking of the natural world to meet everyday needs.  The splitting of a log into roof shakes is wonderful. I was also very struck by the decision by the film-maker to include herself in shot as a mix of interviewer and conversationalist.   And to leave her appreciative laughter on the sound track. Then the final shot, with the film-maker getting up from an interview and walking towards the camera – to switch it off, to end the film.  That was a very nice touch.’

Maddie Spencer  –  Jack and I

 ‘A snowy day, a young may playing a guitar… The film begins with strong and mood setting images.  Then the box of letters.   I thought the way we saw and heard bits of a letter was very powerful – drawing me in, giving me a sense of great reality. I found every moment of this film compelling. And it built the story the blend of history ad memory, with great skill. The pieces are put together – Jack’s difficulties, the difficulties these present to the family; the father who is so loving and so absent;  the pain of memory and the use of exploration of time to deal with pain; the resolve of the sister to get her brother back. The stills, showing old photos of the father, the family, happy times; and the surprising scenes from some old video footage.  These were cut Ito the live-action footage to great effect.  I had a sense of being taken right into the lost time. This film seemed to me to be utterly honest, a sharing of a story with us that was very much theirs; and the skillful way the shots and interview materials build the story meant that I was held every moment by being allowed into something so personal.  Yet it also resonated – and I am sure that many many families can watch this and see some part of themselves.’

——————

Hugh Brody Runner Up Prize :    Jack and I

 I choose this for its combination of strong film making skill and remarkable emotional power.   It is wonderfully personal but also has large and wide resonances.  I think that this is a remarkable achievement – and a tribute to everyone who is shown.  The openness and honesty; and the skill with which it is shot and edited.  There are many reasons for admiring this film.  And one of them is that, for all the difficulties it spells out and owns up to, it delivers a message of hope.  The film-maker takes us to lost time to make sure no more time is lost.  Thank you for a great piece of work.

 

The prize was awarded by Dr Rob Fish, Director of Research in the School of Anthropology and Conservation.

 

Hugh Brody Visual Anthropology Prize:   Furusato, Francesca Tesler

 

This is a beautifully made film that takes us to a culture in exile.  It is rich with images and compelling sound.  It delivers something special and surprising.   The central interviews are straightforward and powerful.  The feeling it gives for Buddhism, and for culture in exile, seem to me to be remarkable.  There is also great subtlety in the film making.  The pacing of interviews, the way the light plays, the mix of shots, and even the wonderful formal garden that so well symbolises the large being retained and caught for its essence in the small.  As documentary film must aim to do –  so we are reminded that film itself is the Japanese garden.   This is a film that gives rise to and allows space for many kinds of thought and appreciation.  A great treat to watch. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

After a long and inspiring day, we all exited to the Gulbenkian bar for drinks and to continue the conversation.

 

 

‘Silence is golden/but my eyes still see’: Award winning documentary ‘The Silence of the Flies’

Project

In December 2015 the School of Anthropology and Conservation was privileged to welcome alumnus Gonzalo Chacon for a screening and discussion of the award winning documentary ‘The Silence of the Flies’ for which he was co-executive producer.  Guest contributor James Kloda reviews the film below.   All images included are courtesy of NorteSur Producciones.  

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“Silence is golden/But my eyes still see.”

This refrain from The Four Seasons’ song is both haunted and haunting, its stated serenity mere illusion. Similarly, Eliezer Arias’ documentary, The Silence Of The Flies, has a lingering disquietude hanging over its subject of multiple suicide, predominantly amongst young adults, in rural Venezuela. Organised by Dr Caroline Bennett, the School was delighted to welcome the film’s executive producer, MA in Visual Anthropology alumnus Gonzalo Chacon, to introduce the screening and participate in a Q & A session, proving to be an engaging, thought-provoking evening.

Arias follows the stories of two ladies, Marcelina and Mercedes, whose daughters tragically took their own lives. One, María José, was a spiky, rebellious character who despised the inherent chauvinism of the society surrounding her, defiantly coming out much to the disgust of her father: the other, Nancy, remains far more enigmatic, any allusions to troubled personality reflected in the figure of her devoted sister, who herself tried to commit suicide when she was eight months pregnant. The dichotomy of silence is drawn thus: present absence and absent presence. And silence is very much the thematic heart of the film, for what typifies this seemingly phenomenological outbreak of self-sacrifice is the cloak of hush wrapped around it.

12315250_10156288237175287_903556283_o-2            Similar to Joshua Oppenheimer’s recent documentary The Look Of Silence, which followed an Indonesian optometrist confronting the perpetrators of his country’s 1965 genocidal purge, the precise challenge of Arias’ film is to dramatise that dichotomy of silence. Stories are heard in voiceover against images of their narrators, silent in frame but always staring into the lens, searching it, and us, for answers or a means to express their private tragedies. The effect of this disconnect is persuasive, a voice only able to be candid when disembodied from its speaker.

12299486_10156288236685287_2002026562_o-2The images themselves are desolate, vast pockets of empty space pushing compositional detail to the fringe leaving a void centre-frame: figures are almost exclusively shot in isolation and, when a group is seen together, it is always from a distance. Perhaps the most striking articulation of the palpable absence at the heart of these communities is of a frozen photograph depicting María José filling the screen as the sound of her brother scrubbing down walls prior to decorating scratches metronomically on the soundtrack: a face etched domineeringly in close-up to the tune of attempted erasure.

12311434_10156288236250287_1855006345_o-2            The Silence Of The Flies is not always this gracefully lyrical. Indeed, some of its more stylised imagery seems too studied: dew drops fall from drooping leaves as Polaroids of victims float down streams. And whilst the lack of objective narration allows us to relate directly to troubled biography, it sometimes becomes difficult to understand whose story we are now following.

Yet there is so much to tell, clamouring to get out to reach some form of resolution, that confusion is perhaps inevitable. With questions still so present and answers wholly absent, The Silence Of The Flies ends with a montage of faces now with eyes closed, meditating, perhaps beginning to find some kind of peace now that hush has been broken. For a brief moment, silence is golden.

Photography and the humanity of the moment – final year student projects

Project

Robert Frank commented that ‘photography must contain the humanity of the moment.’ What better combination then than photography and anthropology? In their final term year some visual anthropology students at the University of Kent have combined the two to explore different aspects of contemporary life, from the experience of refugee children in Kent, the use of body art as political expression, and the movement of seafood from ocean to stomach. With unique insights into aspects of life, these projects explored the humanity of the moment, a selection of which is displayed below.

The photographs are part of the wider exhibition of visual projects that came out of Kent this year, and continue the tradition started by previous year’s projects: Inter-reflexions; Peopling Places; and Self Spaces.  You can scroll through the photos and project descriptions by clicking on one and then using the arrow keys to navigate.

Resolations 2015

Project

 

“Film can rescue anthropology and deliver it from its confines.”

By James Kloda

The introduction from film-maker Hugh Brody to this year’s screening of ethnographic projects made by the undergraduate and Master’s visual anthropology students suggests a liberation of authorial voice to articulate its subject through a cinematographic medium: indeed, many of the shorts that were screened were free from an imposed agenda, telling moments revealed through shrewd observation and unforced technique. Charlotte Austwick’s Welcome To The Country looked at the rural community that she grew up in, and the reaction of locals to the increasing influx of urbanites relocating there and the prejudices they hold against parochialism. There was a pleasingly sardonic wit expressed by the film-maker (an interviewee bemoans city slickers invading the countryside that cuts to an axe chopping a log), and her father proved an eccentrically entertaining character, sighing when he recognises the look of piqued curiosity exhibited by outsiders toward them (“Oh, they’re going to want to talk about the locals again…”) and recounting tales of their prurient fascination at seeing such ‘marvels’ as peas growing in the wild. But, despite justified grumblings from the villagers, there was admitted compromise in the fact that those accustomed to city ways are more prepared to pressurise local councils regarding maintenance of facilities. Austwick’s film could have perhaps benefited from the point of view of an interloper, to see what visual and behavioural contrasts exist between the two types of inhabitant, but, overall, it was a work of warm confidence.

Anastasia To, Harrison Holt, Charlotte Austwick and Kate Al-Khalili take questions from the audience.

 

Rachel Downes poses a question to the four filmmakers.

Rachel Downes poses a question to the four filmmakers.

Communities featured prominently in the next array of films, from the University’s diverse religious fraternities to a busy indoor market in Leicester, via a Cosplay conference in London. Kate Al-Khalili’s The Community Within Religion observed ritual, be it a baptism or Muslim prayer session, with intimacy, her camera genuflecting with prayer-goers and close-framing the various groups, highlighting the bond between them. Yet there was also the occasional flash of the pragmatic limitations of open-armed welcome: the RC chaplain at the University of Kent opines that he couldn’t physically cope if too many students came to the institution for Catholic foundation. Anastasia To’s Muchly Needed captured the multicultural diversity that still thrives in a fish market with a vibrancy of colour and contrast, reflected in the choice of interview subjects and close-ups of the wide variety of fish for sale. The choice of location was inspired, as many customers related to the piscine wares as a connection to home, a demand for domestic staple fuelling supply of increasingly exotic fish, which led many to recount family anecdotes of fish preparation and styles of cooking to the camera. Cosplay, filmed by Harrison Holt, asked a number of people why they participate in costuming: a means to overcome shyness; an antidote to bullying; providing outreach for disadvantaged community groups. What was striking was the static poise that cosplayers exhibited when Holt filmed them, as if waxworks in a gaudy gallery. And there was something sneakily subversive about including footage of them drinking Coca Cola or eating a Subway: for all the flamboyant esotericism on display, the cosplayers still chow down on junk food, a symbol of homogeneity if ever there was one.

Hannah Evans' mother, father and sister (centre).

Hannah Evans’ mother, father and sister (centre).

The next collection of films were individual portraits that often revealed more about the film-maker than their subject. Hannah Evans’ About Dad fulfilled a desire that most of us have: to put our parents in the spotlight at the mercy of our interrogation. But her father Jeremy proves an elusive figure, disarming Hannah with a banality of recollection when she asks him what his favourite memories are of her or matter-of-factly recounting details of his brother’s death, a story that an audibly upset, off-camera Hannah hears for the first time. If the presence of a camera can open up its subject, the revelations that this affords are not always easy to swallow. With Time To Use also focused on a father, one who has taken an early retirement yet is becoming increasingly restless. Alex Astin’s frustrated insistence that his father sit back, relax and enjoy his well-deserved fallow period instead of obsessively busying himself subtly articulated an irreconcilable generational divide, made poignant by inserts of the tide ebbing and flowing on the beach that Astin Senior’s house overlooks, potent metaphors for what time there is to use. Lucinda Newman’s Portrait Of A President followed the student president of Canterbury Homeless Outreach as she discussed the voluntary work that the group do. Impact softened by prolonged imagery of the subject smoking and playing guitar in the sunshine, presumably to suggest what a free spirit she is, and no footage of or interviews with the people she helps, the film nevertheless provided a saddening exposé of NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) council attitude, that homeless people should be moved on to another place for someone else to deal with. This revelation was all the more powerful for its organic emergence in Newman’s conversational approach.

Hannah Evans, Alex Astin and Lucinda Newman

Hannah Evans, Alex Astin and Lucinda Newman

The peripatetic subject of Anna Bettini’s Reflessioni On The Go ambled around Canterbury’s Westgate Gardens and High Street, as his thoughts on the differences between his native Sardinia and Britain were narrated through voiceover. Whilst delineating the British stereotype that he has experienced, his comments reinforced popular notions of the Italian temperament, whether announcing that “British people give credit to our level of learning and knowledge” with blithe hauteur or detailing how quick his fellow countrymen are to make a scene in the workplace as opposed to the polite placidity of their UK counterparts. If the imagery often seemed superfluous to the pre-recorded interview (frustratingly we do not hear his comments when in front of an Italian war memorial in the city), Bettini revealed her strategy in the closing moments: since staying in Canterbury, and despite the cultural differences good or bad, he feels a closeness to his current location, as a ‘second home’ to the one of his birth, the constant roving reflective of this transition.

Cirque de Curiosite

Cirque de Curiosite

With so many quiet epiphanies, the final three shorts displayed a direct confidence with both style and examination. Rachel Downes’ Cirque de Curiosité had little to say about its titular cabaret company, their filmed acts intercut with rather conventional interviews. However, the acts themselves were a marvel of montage and colour, the febrile intensity of performance captured through swathes of neon, pulsating editing and multi-angled curiosity. And, for the interviews themselves, Downes made dramatic choice of camera position, filming jugglers from a high gantry or, bravely, right underneath them, the camera lens in danger of destruction should a ball stray from its controlled rhythm. Telling Secrets began with its maker and subject, Simon Holt, attempting to light candles on a birthday cake that become continually extinguished: in a droll cut, it is revealed that this is because the table is positioned next to an electric fan. Holt chose to make a film about his prior struggles with depression and is candid on camera about his feelings. But it is the facility with visual metaphor that distinguished this piece, that opening image profoundly resonant through its deadpan simplicity. A therapeutic experience, for both Holt and the audience.

 

 

Simon Holt, Rachel Downes and Joe Spence.

Simon Holt, Rachel Downes and Joe Spence.

Wrapping things up was Joe Spence’s Our Patch, a documentary about a farm in Herefordshire that doubles as an animal rescue shelter and a centre for people with special needs. Spence’s warmth and empathy with his subjects was touching, his camera drifting out of focus briefly as the owner of the farm becomes moved to tears, a moment of discretion to his subject but one that also elicits a similar response in the audience, the image welling up through a subtle lens shift. It is moments like this that film does not only rescue anthropology, but delivers us all from the confines surrounding us, be they social, emotional or familial.

Professor Hugh Brody gives detailed feedback on all the films.

Professor Hugh Brody

David Pick and Professor Hugh Brody gave detailed feedback before awarding the prizes in their name.  Click here and scroll down to learn more about their work.

Resolation Prize Winners

HUGH BRODY VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY PRIZE:      Our Patch– Joe Spence
RUNNER-UP:                     Welcome To The Country– Charlotte Austwick

 

 

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Professor Hugh Brody presents the Visual Anthropology Prize to Joe Spence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAVID PICK DOCUMENTARY  PRIZE:           Telling Secrets– Simon Holt
RUNNER-UP:                     Muchly Needed– Anastasia To

 

 

Simon Holt receives the David Pick Documentary Prize.

Simon Holt receives the David Pick Documentary Prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PRIZE : Telling Secrets– Simon Holt
RUNNER-UP:                     With Time To Use– Alex Astin

The Public Engagement Prize was presented by Alan Bicker on behalf of the Lyn Bicker Mentoring Foundation

The Public Engagement Prize was presented by Alan Bicker on behalf of the Lyn Bicker Mentoring Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUDIENCE AWARD:        Our Patch– Joe Spence/Telling Secrets- Simon Holt

RUNNER-UP:                     Muchly Needed– Anastasia To

 

Anastasia To receiving the Runner-Up audience prize from Dr Daniela Peluso.

Anastasia To receives the Runner-Up audience prize from Dr. Daniela Peluso.

 

 

CSAC SPECIAL DISTINCTION PRIZE IN TECHNICAL & CINEMATOGRAPHIC CREATIVITY & DIGITAL STORYTELLING: Cirque de Curiosité– Rachel Downes

 

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Rachel Downes and the CSAC Prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[All the screened films can be accessed through clicking on the links above]

‘Homeless Youth’ – a local collaborative film project

Project

@Porchlight1974 @KentSAC @CTunaker @Pelaris

#homelessyouth #appliedanthropology

Carin Tunaker is a PhD student in social anthropology at the University of Kent.  Her research examines the conditions and circumstances that contribute toward LGBTQ youth homelessness in East Kent.  Carin and the co-director for this project, Prem Konieczny from Porchlight, used participatory film-making as a research tool for this project.  Below she explains the process and the outcomes both for the young people and for her own research.

The film was a project by and for young homeless people living in Porchlight’s young persons’ services in Canterbury and Tonbridge. It follows three young people, Josh, Shaunagh and Michael, through their journeys as homeless youth living in hostels in Kent. In making this film, they wanted to show people that being young and homeless isn’t always what you think it might be; they wanted to challenge negative stereotypes of homeless people and show what the ‘reality’ of homelessness is, for them.

The Idea

There were never any grandiose intentions for this film project, it simply started out with me, as a Support and Resettlement worker in Porchlight, asking the residents in the project where I worked, to sit down and brainstorm with me about perhaps making a film on homelessness. I had little hope of engagement and excitement about the project, because engaging young people who are going through a traumatic time in their lives in something as time consuming as making a film, seemed a distant and optimistic idea. But after a few false starts, one young person, Shaunagh, who had done a course at college in film, decided she felt confident enough to take the lead and motivate others to join in too. All in all, around 15 young people from Porchlight took part in the process of making this film. There was one simple guideline: the film had to be about homelessness. The rest was up to them.

Young people from Porchlight interviewing passers-by on the streets of Canterbury

Young people from Porchlight interviewing passers-by on the streets of Canterbury

After careful consideration, the girls decided that they wanted to make a film about youth homelessness, to show people what it’s REALLY like. They often hear homeless people described as rough sleepers, dirty beggars, drug or alcohol misusers and generally a drain of society’s resources – descriptions that they felt do not fit them in any shape or form and they wanted to challenge this. So then they had to figure out HOW to make their point. Initially, they thought that just filming different activities and doing a general tour of the hostel would be enough, but it wasn’t long before they realised that they needed some hard evidence of people’s ignorance and misconceptions. Reluctantly, all agreed that they would need to go into town and ask the general public for their opinions – on film!

The Process

We borrowed equipment from the Visual Anthropology programme at the University of Kent, but at first, nobody wanted to touch the camera and nobody wanted to be ON camera, which gave a bleak outlook for the entire project. To take the pressure off, I decided to keep the camera in the hostel’s office and told the service users that they could wait until something ‘interesting’ happened and come and get it when they felt inspired and wanted to use it. Eventually they did take the camera away and returned to me with it full of footage of interviews that they had done with each other on their ideas of youth homelessness. Most was not useable because of issues with sound and/or image, but because they had now broken down the barrier of fear of the camera, the film project could now mature into something that they felt capable of taking ownership of.

Music Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 15.38.45

Amy performing the music for the opening scenes of ‘Homeless Youth’

Week by week, they got more and more confident with the camera and eventually we could have a session talking about HOW to use the camera, what to think about in terms of positioning of the subject, background noise and other technicalities. Keeping the camera on site for ‘interesting’ moments turned out to be a much better idea than trying to produce interesting moments on demand, so this is how we proceeded. All the service users taking part were dealing with issues of their own during this time period, such as difficult family relationship problems, depression, self-harm, problems in college, trying (and mostly failing) to find work, relationship problems and so on. These, of course, took precedence, so finding ‘good’ days to film was always a challenge.

Eventually, despite personal fears and inhibitions, a group of our young service users took to the streets of Canterbury and bravely approached strangers to ask them what they thought a homeless person looks like. The replies were shocking and showed exactly the kind of negative stereotypes that they were expecting to hear – and worse! There were comments such as homeless people are dirty, disgusting, smelly, have a lack of personal hygiene, and (a personal favourite), they always have long hair (!). While filming in Canterbury town centre, I started out as the cameraman, since nobody else dared to do it, but after a few of our interviews, confidence grew in the group and eventually everyone had a go at either asking questions or holding the camera.

Film as Method

Screenshot from the film at the first official screening. Josh is talking about what he thought a hostel would be like before he had to live in one himself

Screenshot from the film at the first official screening. Josh is talking about what he thought a hostel would be like before he had to live in one himself

Most of the filming was done by the young people, but my colleague Prem Konieczny (who edited the film) and I also did some. I took the camera with me to any activity I did with the service users and rigged it up for some group discussions as well, for which I asked the questions. I had my own agenda for this film project: I wanted to get the service users to engage in meaningful conversations about their ideas of what ‘home’ is to them, and what ‘homelessness’ actually means, which in turn would inform my own research into youth homelessness. A lot of the conversations ended up far less serious than intended, with more banter and jokes than thoughtful ideas; breaking through this hurdle of protective chitchat was quite challenging. One of the more successful ideas was to put the questions up on the wall behind the camera and allow the service users to speak freely about them, rather than me probing and asking questions directly to them. This somehow seemed to give them more power over the conversation and removed the teacher/student aspect that can sometimes feel more like an interrogation.

By allowing the service users to be in charge of this project, not only did they get a huge confidence boost themselves and learned a great deal in the process, but it was also a method for me to open different channels of thought and reflection from them, as opposed to normal casual conversations or interviews. As an anthropologist in the hostels, I had spent significant time trying to get them to talk about these concepts in general conversation and interviews, with mixed results. Suddenly, with them in charge of the camera and their own voice, they felt the need to put words to their thoughts in a way that was never necessary in my previous inquisitions as ethnographer and fieldworker. Rouch, in his 1973 essay ‘The Camera and Man’, couldn’t be more right when he said that “The situation is clearly this: the anthropologist has at his disposal the only tool (the participating camera) that offers him the extraordinary possibility of direct communication with the group he studies-the film he has made about them.”

Two of the girls that took part in the project ‘staging’ a game of badminton for the camera in the hostel’s garden

Two of the girls that took part in the project ‘staging’ a game of badminton for the camera in the hostel’s garden

I never had any intention for ‘true objectivity’ or a search for the ‘truth’ for this film, if ever such a thing existed (Pink outlines this debate well in the introduction to her book Doing Visual Ethnography). As Vertov’s concept of the ‘cine-eye’ dictates, my own intent and actions inevitably shaped this film. However, as Rouch advocated, I did engage in ‘audiovisual reciprocity’ where the participants were a part of the process, from start to finish: the service users that took part in this project had a say in what the film should show; the participants “staged” the reality that they wanted to portray publicly. In a way, it feels like fulfilling the dream of Jean Rouch, when he said that this type of ethnographic filmmaking will help us make a ‘shared anthropology’; “Which is to say, the time of the joint dream of Vertov and Flaherty, of a mechanical cine-eye-ear and of a camera that can so totally participate that it will automatically pass into the hands of those who, until now, have always been in front of the lens. At that point, anthropologists will no longer control the monopoly on observation; their culture and they themselves will be observed and recorded. And it is in that way that ethnographic film will help us to “share” anthropology.”

Editing

Chelsea and Zach interviewing Shaunagh for the additional footage they felt was missing from the film at editing stage

Chelsea and Zach interviewing Shaunagh for the additional footage they felt was missing from the film at editing stage

Once the filming was done, Prem and I started the painstaking process of sieving through hours of footage, much of it unusable, to find the hidden gems – footage of the service users interviewing each other and thinking seriously about their own situations, about homelessness, about being young and living in a hostel, about their potential futures, hopes and dreams. We constructed a rough draft of the clips and invited the service users to the Visual Anthropology lab at the university to watch the draft film and comment. They deemed the film inconclusive, and a bout of new shooting ensued. They had a clear idea of the direction they wanted the film to take, so they constructed interviews with each other targeting the information they felt was missing. This part of the project was truly inspiring, since at this point the service users had really taken charge of their own film and displayed a proud ownership of it.

The young people that joined us in the Visual Anthropology lab had mostly never visited a university and never thought they would ever do so either, and after the end of this some had grown aspirations for taking up study and possibly even continue onto university to pursue a career in filmmaking, grades permitting. Seeds of hope and possibilities were sown and self-esteem grew and blossomed in a way that you could almost see and feel. It all culminated in a cold but sunny afternoon at the UKC campus, where some final shots were done in the UKC campus’ labyrinth.

"The the maze totally symbolises everything about this film, about us and what it is we want to say!”

“The the maze totally symbolises everything about this film, about us and what it is we want to say!”

I was a mere bystander while Shaunagh walked through the labyrinth, making her way to the centre, through the maze of paths, filmed by her friends from the hostel. The shot captured the apogee of the film project, where the service users thoughts and realisations met in the middle of the maze, expressed by Chelsea who exclaimed in realisation: “Hey, the maze totally symbolises everything about this film, about us and what it is we want to say!”

Finally we added the music. Porchlight had for some time collaborated with an agency called Rhythmix, who visited our hostels to teach our young people to make their own music. Michael (a.k.a. ‘Ike Boi’), who appears in the film as one of the main characters, provided most of the music that he had created together with Rhythmix, and another service user Amy provided the songs for the start and end credits with her own wonderful talent.

The Screening

Carin Tunaker at the screening of 'Homeless Youth' at the University of Kent, November 2014

Carin Tunaker at the screening of ‘Homeless Youth’ at the University of Kent, November 2014

It took over a year for the film to make its way from the end of filming to the finished product. In that year, our service users moved on, moved out, and quite possibly forgot temporarily about their experiences as filmmakers. Unfortunately some made themselves un-contactable as well (purposefully or un-purposefully), so they missed the opportunity to see the film in its finished form, screened at the Lupino Screening Room at UKC in November 2014. Those who came told us they felt very proud to have taken part in something like this. They spoke of their hopes for futures in the film industry – they want to send the film to the BBC and E4, and some hope to start careers in singing and/or film.  In the least they want to pass the buck to other young homeless people now living in Porchlight’s hostels, for them to continue with ‘Episode Two’ of Homeless Youth!

Inter-Reflexions Photography 2014

June 11, 2014

Siroccosky

For those of you who missed the Inter-Reflexions video and photo exhibition on June 3rd, worry not.  You can now watch the videos on line, just click on each video’s link in this post.  And now you can view the photos in the digital exhibition below:

 

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Prizes were won by the following:

  • Anthropological Vision: Jamie Baird for ‘The Evolution of Murals in East Belfast’
  • Most innovative use of Photography: Sarah Graham for ‘Threads of History’
  • Best overall photo / set of photos: Joanna Jones for ‘Timberlina: portraits of a contemporary drag artist’

INTER-REFLEXIONS-2014

Project

 

Reflexion– expression without words; a remark expressing careful consideration; a calm, lengthy, intent consideration.

Inter– Between, among; mutually; reciprocally

 

Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1, University of Kent, Tuesday, 3rd June, 1-7pm

 

This year’s screening and exhibition of third year visual anthropology projects was titled Inter-Reflexions. The organisation of the screening programme made more explicit how our students’ projects speak to each other as much as they do to the wide issues they engage with. They testify to the processes of collaboration and feedback they followed and inspiration they took from teaching in visual anthropology theory in the Autumn term.

In this yearly event we celebrate our students commitment to creative use of photography and video that takes visual anthropological methodologies into engagement with the issues and interests that inspire and fascinate them.

 

Timetable

 

Matthew, Chelsey and Liam answer questions about their films.

Matthew, Chelsey and Liam answer questions about their films.

For the screening we started with the body’s most symbolised extension into the space that surrounds us in Matthew Neale’s Hair, a critical exploration of the meanings of hair and hair products. The student experience also featured strongly in Hollie Goman’s intimate enquiry into what university means to students, in The Art of Growing Up. In an altogether more imagined and playful space of magic and alternative use of university spaces, Jake Conley and Chelsey Jacobs, entered into the games of the Harry Potter inspired university club, The Hogwarts Society. By contrast, Liam Dorr took us off campus in an ethnofiction inspired film on one student’s plan for the perfect party. Ongka’s Big Moka was the inspiration, but Joel’s Big Party is a lot funnier.

From the student ‘hair’ and the now we moved to the theme of eternity and longevity in shorts that tackled religion, activism and laughter. Christiane Howe deepened our appreciation of arranged and sometimes fortuitous marriages in The Unification Movement. Annabelle Spooner travelled to South Korean churches in the UK to see the challenges they face in Yeswhonim.

In Of Families and Eternity, Robert Malin delivered new insights from behind the doors of the Mormon church. In fighting for the continued use of their skatepark on the Southbank, the activists that Henry Worger collaborated with in Culture with a Capital U, also desire a sense of continuity and longevity.  Troy King’s The Act of Laughter delved deeply into the challenges of being a stand up comedian and found strong links with anthropology.

Dr Oliver Double, who starred in Troy King’s film, dropped in to contribute further insights into stand up comedy.

 

Photo Exhibition

In the break we had the opportunity to look at the photographic exhibition. It covered similarly wide-ranging topics, exploring a range of photographic techniques within anthropology as well as diverse visual subjects. From the performance of gender and sexuality, to the effect of moving into a retirement home, to the emotional journey of a mixed-martial arts fighter as he prepares for, and takes part in, the biggest fight of his career, the photographic projects asked how, as researchers, we can explore and depict the encounters with life that make up the human experience using photography. This year’s photographers were: Alice Keegan, Lewis Batterham, Jamie Baird, Ayla Jay, Joanna Jones, Sarah Graham, Thomas Lindsay, Rebecca Scutcher, Keira Henderson, Daven Nijran-Talwar, Lydia Hill and Monique Dray.

 

Jesse Tomlinson answers questions on Cornish Identity.

Jesse Tomlinson answers questions on Cornish Identity.

We returned from the break to the themes of home, place and identity, linked in a series of shorts that travel from Cornwall to Canterbury’s Good’s Shed, to London protests against homelessness, to a novel exploration of the idea of stress and ending with one man’s fight with mental illness. Jesse Tomlinson tested claims for Cornish identity in Ve Bos Kernewek in a short in which he was also tested. In Localised, Oliver Seary took us to the heart and soul of local produce, through evocative visual portraits of traders from the Good’s Shed. Experimental in format with a challenging message, Mike Cadby, delivered a novel framing of the challenge of homelessness in Life’s a Beach. Scott Skinner addressed the question of how the idea of stress effects us using a key TED talk as a vehicle propelled by anthropological interest in the reception of media. A Stressful Perception aims to transform the audience’s perceptions. In Fragments of a Life, Simon Schwarz took us into the home of one man and their journey of facing mental illness through the camera.

Our final group of films shifted more deeply into the theme of reflection. In A Journey Into Landscape & Tourism in Aljezur, Alex Woodcock, journeyed to Portugal to meditate on a village where most of the population now live in cities.

 

In Transient Reflections, Becci Geach translated the experience of being human in moving trains into a visual aesthetic that linked us to fellow passengers. Piano Talk, focused on the destination. Helen Peek explored the reasons why people come from far and wide to play the pianos in King’s Cross Station. Naomi Webb’s Running Monologue, was a strikingly personal portrayal structured by a powerfully moving motif. Sam Parsons’ gravity defying film, Leave it on the Ground, opened up the social and personal motivations of sky divers and concluded our afternoon.

This concluded the screening part of the day.

David Pick and Hugh Brody discuss the films during the break.

David Pick and Hugh Brody discuss the films during the break.

This year we welcomed back Professor Hugh Brody to award the prize in his name. We were also excited to learn how the Tracks Across Sand project has developed since last year. Tracks Across Sand is a major video project that looks the history of the first indigenous land claim in Africa. Last year he started a major fundraising initiative to fund the dissemination of the film and to create an online resource. This year he confirmed that he has got funding to screen the film all over the African continent and to set up an archive at the University of Cape Town.

This year we also welcomed a new judge for the screening to award the David Pick Documentary Prize. In a career spanning more than three decades, David Pick produced and directed hundreds of television programmes in the UK, mainly for ITV. From science magazines (The Real World) to religious/ethical affairs documentaries (The Human Factor); from a twice-weekly live soap opera (Together) to filmed family comedy (Worzel Gummidge); from documentaries like The Tigers’ Tale, chronicling the excavation of The Channel Tunnel, to The Hannibal Test, which followed Ian Botham and elephants on a charity trek across the Alps.

Are Mothers Really Necessary?, a seven-part series for Channel 4 on the work of the controversial child-psychiatrist, Dr John Bowlby, was focused on three of his major studies: Attachment, Separation and Loss. The filming presented many practical and ethical challenges to the documentary-maker: in a residential unit for children suffering the effects of severe emotional and/or physical abuse; in day-care centres for babies and toddlers; in a preparatory boarding school; in the mother-and-baby units of British and American prisons; in the cancer wards of children’s hospitals; and with grieving parents in a children’s hospice. Since retiring from TV, David has studied Creative Writing, taking two modules of a part-time BA at UKC before joining the MA programme at Christ Church Canterbury, where he gained a distinction. His first novel, Mrs May: A PsychoSexual Odyssey, tells the story of a primary schoolteacher’s mission to redeem a teenage thug, once a delightful child in her reception class. Mrs May is available as a paperback or e-book on Amazon.

In the dialogue between Hugh Brody and David Pick we hoped to find the creative tension and possibilities between the increasingly blurred boundaries of ethnographic and documentary filmmaking.

Sarah receives her award from Maria-Paz and Glenn.

Sarah receives her award from Maria-Paz and Glenn.

The photography prizes were judged by Glenn Bowman and Maria-Paz Peirano.  Maria-Paz Peirano is a PhD student researching Chilean cinema. Glenn Bowman is a reader of social anthropology at the University of Kent, Director of the Liberal Arts programme and a visual anthropologist who uses photography extensively in his research in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories of Palestine, Macedonia and Cyprus.

To see photos of the day please click on our Flickr photostream.

Photography  Prizes

Photography prizes went to the following:

Most innovative use of photography: Sarah Graham for ‘Threads of History’

Anthropological Vision: Jamie Baird for ‘The evolution of Murals in East Belfast’

Best overall photographs: Joanna Jones for ‘Timberlina: an anthropological case study of a contemporary drag artist’

The photography exhibition can be viewed online here.

Video Prizes

 

The David Pick Prize was accepted by Peter McCulloch of 'Fragments of a Life'.

The David Pick Prize was accepted by Peter McCulloch of ‘Fragments of a Life’.

David Pick Prize –Fragments of a LifeSimon Schwarz

Peter McCulloch, the key protagonist and collaborator in Simon’s film received the prize in his absence.

David Pick Runner Up- Localised–  Oliver Seary

Special Commendation- The Unification Movement–  Christiane Howe      

Christiane Howe receives a special commendation.

 

Hugh Brody Prize –Running MonologueNaomi Webb

Hugh Brody Runner Up Prize- Joel’s Big PartyLiam Dorr

Audience Prize-Fragments of a Life–Simon Schwarz

 

Liam Dorr receives an award for 'Joel's Big Party'.

Liam Dorr receives an award for ‘Joel’s Big Party’.

If you would like to see photographs of the event please look at our Flickr feed. Our thanks to Caroline Bennett and Mike Poltorak for the considerable work organising the exhibition and screening.

Photographs by Caroline Bennett and Mike Poltorak.