ACSS Fellow Prof Stephen Linstead wins best research film at AHRC Research in Film Awards

6 December 2018

Prof Stephen Linstead FAcSS’ short film “Black Snow” won the Best Research Film of the Year category at the Arts and Humanities Research in Films Awards 2018. Judged by a panel of film industry experts and leading academics, the winners were announced during a special awards ceremony at BAFTA in November, where they each receive a trophy and £2,000 prize money.

Black Snow, which blends art, historical research, and ethnography with conventional film and virtual reality is a short film (23min) and tells the forgotten story of the world’s biggest mining disaster in the 19th century. The explosion at the Oaks Colliery in Barnsley, South Yorkshire caused the death of at least 361 men and boys on 12th and 13th December 1866.

“This award is so important – it really validates the work of using film as a means of doing and thinking research rather than just representing it. In the film we struggled to articulate neglected voices, to show the extraordinary in the ordinary – and this award is the absolute best recognition of that, both for the filmmakers and for the modest people the film is about. This award will be absolutely vital in helping us to get the film into channels where more and more people can see it – and we can start to change things,” says Prof Linstead.

The film tells three interlocking stories: the story of a historical community devastated by the disaster, struggling to survive; the story of a contemporary community, decimated by the loss of the mining industry, rediscovering its history and the story of a sculptor, struggling to a masterpiece. Through these three strands, the film shows how an industrial past can have a tangible, emotionally powerful impact on the present – and even the future. Local ex-miners and their families voice historical characters, share their stories, guide us both above and below ground and even recreate the disaster itself through Virtual Reality.

Black Snow is Prof Stephen Linstead’s second film (he has already made a well-received short called These Fragments on the ruins of the mining industry) and has had 52 Official Film Selections and screenings in film competitions/festivals worldwide (including Europe, North and South America, Indonesia, Australia) to date. Black Snow has won 6 best film awards, platinum, silver and bronze awards, and awards of excellence, merit and distinction.

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