The next steps after a Research in Film Award

In this week’s blog, documentary Film Producer and PhD candidate Anna Sowa discusses how her film Kanraxël- The Confluence of Agnack’  came to win an AHRC Research in Film Award, among others, and where her project has gone from there.

Receiving the Research in Film Award for Best Research Film for our film ‘Kanraxël- The Confluence of Agnack’  has meant a lot to us, as filmmakers, as social documentarians and as academics. In our pursuit of creating meaningful and fascinating films, we see the award as a tremendous source of encouragement and empowerment.

With this awards ceremony still fresh in the memory of this year’s winners, it’s a great opportunity for us to reflect on the journey of our research project and where the film has taken us over the past year.

In our eyes, it was crucial that the people of Agnack were the first to watch the film. The villagers were at the heart of the film project and we wanted them to feel valued and well represented.

And so, before it was seen by anyone else, the village held the film’s world premiere. Their reaction was invaluable to us. No film review could be more powerful than their words: “This is us, this is who we are”.

Since then, the Kanraxël film has been chosen for a variety of festivals around the world and has come away with many awards, including being selected at the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival.

Today, the film is distributed through the Royal Anthropological Institute, with all profits from every sale going to the people of Agnack.

The word ‘impact’ has become a giant in the world of academia. It is a pressure faced by every research team – the mission to make a true and valuable impact on society beyond academia is paramount. We are always thinking of the marks we leave and the change we spark and asking ourselves: how much of a difference does our film make, both for the audience and for the people we film?

The internet is an ever-growing graveyard of forgotten films and abandoned projects, but we don’t want this to be the fate of our film. We’re determined to keep our film alive and active as a resource to be enjoyed, studied and used.

We leapt at the opportunity to develop teaching resources based on the film for secondary schools and universities. It thrills us to see the Kanraxël project grow into a unique and far-reaching resource.

Seeing the great potential of our film and teaching resources has inspired us to extend the project further. With Kanraxël, we are opening up spaces for creative engagement, exploring ideas of language, linguistic identity and alternative language worlds.

The testimony of an academic, who used the film in his class, encapsulates the continuing power of the film to stimulate discussions:

“Kanraxël is an amazing piece of film – and, pedagogically, it really brought home to my students that we don’t (and don’t need to) all live in monolingual and tightly-bordered nation-states. They talked about it until the end of the semester. Thank you to all involved in the film!” (Gareth Price, Duke University).

Anna Sowa, Documentary Film Producer at Chouette Films and PhD candidate at the London Film School/ University of Exeter
Feature image Credit: Chouette Films

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