Film lecturer makes the cut at international awards

A Staffordshire University lecturer has been shortlisted for a coveted international film prize

The Voice of the Sierra Nevada poster featuring an indigenous Colombian filmmaker

The Voice of the Sierra Nevada is shortlisted for a prestigious RIFA award

Being shortlisted for RIFA is truly special as many research films don’t really fit into any traditional award category or dissemination context. Not to mention how prestigious this recognition is.

Dr Agata Lulkowska, Senior Lecturer in Film Production,

Dr Agata Lulkowska is nominated in The Best Doctoral or Early Career Film of the Year category at the AHRC Research in Film Awards (RIFA) for her experimental documentary The Voice of Sierra Nevada.

RIFA is the only film awards dedicated to celebrating and recognising arts and humanities research through film. This year, it received a record number of applications and a prestigious judging panel of academics, film industry experts and sector leaders whittled them down to best entries from across the world.

Agata, a Senior Lecturer in Film Production, said: “I am over the moon and really humbled about this nomination – this research took years to complete, and it shaped my ‘transition’ from the art world (photography, film, and multimedia arts) to academia, and defined me as a practice-based researcher.”

The Voice of Sierra Nevada follows the story of a collective of indigenous filmmakers living in Colombia who, through the medium of film, aim to gain agency, protect their cultural identity against political and symbolic violence, decolonise and confront the misrepresentations of indigenous people made by Western filmmakers in the past.

The film scrutinises the role of the academic researcher within this process and explores questions around the politics of representation, power relations and the potential to use filmmaking practices as an effective means of intercultural communication.

The Voice of Sierra Nevada has already received critical acclaim, having won the Award of Excellence in the research category at the Docs Without Borders Film Festival. An article about the same research also received the International Award for Excellence for The Journal of Communication and Media Studies.

Outside of lecturing Agata is an active researcher and leads the newly-formed Film as Research Practice Group at Staffordshire University. She also serves on the editorial board for the upcoming book series on Practice as Research and together with colleagues Sharon Coleclough and Steph Steventon founded international, interdisciplinary conference and festival Communities and Communication which aims to bridge the gap between the creative world and academia.

Agata added: “Being shortlisted for RIFA is truly special as many research films don’t really fit into any traditional award category or dissemination context. Not to mention how prestigious this recognition is. For someone who doesn’t follow traditional paths, this really reaffirms that I have made the right choices and that it paid off to be patient and persevere.”

Agata will be talking about the research on Monday 27th Sept at the Javeriana University, Bogotá, Colombia, and at the UCL Practice-based research network seminar at UCL on 1st December.

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