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Photo credit: CHOUETTE Films

Exeter Film Studies PGR student produces award-winning film

Anna Sowa, a Film Studies PGR student in the College of Humanities, has won an award for her film, 'Kanraxël: The Confluence of Agnack' at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 10th Anniversary Research in Film Awards at the British Film Institute (BFI)

The film also won the Best First Feature award at the MICGénero International Film Festival and has been made part of the Official Selection at the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival; the Queens World Film Festival; the Lumière 6th CinemAvvenire Film Festival; the 11th Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival; AfryKamera Film Festival; and AfricanBamba Human Rights Film Festival.

According to the website, the AHRC Research in Film Awards are ‘designed to recognise the creative and innovative work being undertaken at the interface between research and film by researchers, practitioners and filmmakers among the UK arts and humanities research community’. Anna’s film was judged by a panel of industry and academic experts, which attracted nearly 200 entries. She won the ‘Best film produced by a researcher or research team in the last year’ award and her prize included £2000 for future film making activities. The judges described her film as ‘a highly sophisticated film, beautifully shot, cut, and recorded, which conveys the nature of multilingual life in the village very effectively indeed’.

Anna is a PhD by practice candidate in the College of Humanities at the University of Exeter and at the London Film School. She co-founded Chouette Films, which is a green film production company committed to using film as a tool for social change. Anna does not come from a filmmaking background. She was inspired by working and studying in international development: ‘I saw excellent research and work on important issues go forgotten and ignored … filmmakers are always hungry for stories, which is exactly what the world of academia and the third sector have, but they sadly lack the resources to share them with a wider audience. This is how Chouette Films came into being’.

Anna’s thesis title is ‘The producer as creative force’ and her supervisor is Professor Will Higbee, who commented, ‘We are delighted with the success that Anna and Chouette films are currently enjoying with 'Kanraxël: The Confluence of Agnack'. It is a clear indication of her talent and drive as a producer. Anna’s supervisors at both Exeter and the LFS are excited to be working with her on new film projects for the PhD that we hope will build on the success of 'Kanraxël'.’

The film is a documentary about linguistic and cultural diversity in a small village called Agnack in Southern Senegal, as the people prepare for an unforgettable ceremony. Anna states, ‘The general view in the Western world is one of an Africa that is still largely dominated by disease, disorder, war and famine. Kanraxël challenges these stereotypical representations and instead it focuses on the abundance of knowledge that we in the West can acquire from Africa. To see the film being so successful, and to receive the AHRC award in particular, is an enormous encouragement to our team at Chouette Films. It gives us reassurance that audiences are willing to learn about this alternative picture and see how diversity and multiculturalism can contribute to harmonious and rich societies’.

The next screening of 'Kanraxël: The Confluence of Agnack' will be on Wednesday 25 May at the BFI. Watch the film’s trailer and follow the film’s success on social media through #KANRAXEL and @ChouetteFilms.

Date: 10 March 2016

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