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Experimental film award identifies emerging talent


Experimental films shortlisted for the Jarman Award will be screened at the Whitechapel Gallery in London next Tuesday.

The winner of the prestigious accolade, which honours the legacy of avant-garde director Derek Jarman, will be announced at the event.

This year’s finalists are Spartacus Chetwynd, Ben Rivers, Zineb Sedira and Emily Wardill.

The winner will get a £10,000 cash prize and a commission to make a short film for Channel 4’s Three Minute Wonder series.

The jury described Rivers' his work as “a unique voice in contemporary moving image practice.” He said: "It’s always nice to be recognised but awards are double-edged."

"It’s great when you’re nominated but when you win it, there’s a lot of other people who are left out of it, especially when it’s your friends who you think are really good.”

Rivers explains that the nomination is doubly special because of an encounter with Jarman nearly 16 years ago.

“A load of us had just graduated and were asked to do a show with him. His paintings were upstairs and we were asked to do installations which represented his work. One of them had to be a film, which I made."

"We all kept trying to meet him and it never worked out but I did have a really nice phone call with him and I was telling him I was making a film on Super 8 mm film. He told me he had a camera that I could use.”

Unfortunately, it didn't happen, but Rivers says that it was the kind gesture that was important.

Wardill, another finalist, says she feels honoured by the nomination and explains her inspirations:

“There’s so many but I guess Peter Watkins and Sally Cruikshank. Watkins because of the way he deals with a person that is not cold. Also, the film Nashville by Robert Altman, I think there’s something about the way that he uses music in that film which is melodramatic without being tear-jerking.”

She is optimistic about the future of the experimental film industry.

“It’s difficult times and it is hard to know but I think it will continue as a model in terms of making particularly, art-making and film-making because it’s very different to mainstream film.”

With regards to audiences watching her films, she says; “I hope they feel them, as well as being interested in them. I hope it makes them think and make films themselves.”

The Jarman Award was launched two years ago by Film London through the Film London Artists' Moving Image Network in partnership with Channel 4.

Click here or on the image to view stills from the shortlisted videos

Screenings of work by the artists shortlisted for the Jarman award will be on Tuesday 5 October in the Whitechapel Gallery, London E1, filmlondon.org.uk/jarmanaward