Untrained filmmaker wins Imperial war museum festival

Untrained Filmmaker Wins Top Award at the 2006 Imperial War Museum Student Film
A documentary produced by an English Literature student with no formal training
in film production has been awarded ‘Winner of the Audience Poll’ in the
Imperial War Museum’s Sixth Annual Student Film Festival. Liberating Dachau,
made by Genevieve Simms, who was studying for an MA in Post-Colonial Literature
at London University while making the film, is a partly dramatised
reconstruction of the liberation of Dachau concentration camp, as recalled by
the journalist Marguerite Higgins. Blending US official film held in the
Museum’s archive with dramatised sequences in which Genevieve plays the part of
the young journalist as she compiling a report in the camp, the film is a
sensitive and innovative account of the liberation accompanied by a musical
score written for the film by Clare Taylor.
The awards ceremony for this unique Festival, run by the Imperial War Museum,
will be held on 8 February 2007. Designed originally to bring student films to a
wider audience and as a way to improve standards in British documentary, the
Festival is rapidly becoming an important showcase for British filmmaking
talent. All the films screened in the Festival, held in November and December
each year, incorporate archive footage from the Museum’s collection or are made
in response to the Museum’s collections and exhibitions. There are three
categories in the competition: ‘Best Documentary’ sponsored by The History
Channel, ‘Best Imaginative Response to the Subject of War’ sponsored by The
Machine Room and ‘Winner of the Audience Poll’.
The winning film in the Annie Dodd’s award for ‘Best Documentary’ category was
The Wellpark Story made by Joanne Wall, while studying for an MA in Documentary
Practice at Brunel University. The documentary is a powerful and engaging
account of an event in 1978 when British merchant sailors on The Wellpark
rescued 347 Vietnamese refugees; just as their overcrowded fishing boat began to
sink in a raging storm. The judges were particularly impressed with the skilful
use of archive film and the powerful interviews with the Vietnamese and British
merchant seamen.
The winner in the category ‘Best Imaginative Response to the subject of war’ was
A Long Weekend, by animation student Tom Purcell from Norwich School of Art and
Design. The animated short film is based on the recollections of RAF regular
Albert Whisker who was posted to Christmas Island during the British atom bomb
trials. The judges were impressed by Tom’s clever blend of animation, archive
footage and contemporaneous popular music. They also commended the filmmaker for
combining humour with an ironic and chilling commentary on the treatment of
servicemen involved in the British nuclear weapon trials.
An additional ‘Judges’ Commendation’ was also awarded to Hamy Ramezan and
Orpheus Reineke (The University College for the Creative Arts), for their moving
drama Just Waiting, about a refugee boy and his father as they wait to be
selected by the UN for deportation away from the hellish conditions at the
Padinska Skela Detention Centre for immigrants and criminals in the former
The winning titles in the ‘Best Documentary’ and ‘Best Creative Response to the
Subject of War’ categories were selected from the short-list (created by the
audience poll) by a panel of judges from the Museum’s Film and Video Archive and
academics and professionals from the film and television industry including
Richard Melman, The History Channel, Kevin Dolan, Film London and Tom Roberts,
October Films. The ‘Winner of the Audience Poll’ was decided solely by audience
The prize-giving ceremony for the Sixth Imperial War Museum Student Film
Festival and Competition will be held on Thursday 8 February 2007 at 6.30pm.
Admission is free, but tickets must be booked in advance. Telephone 020 7416
5439 or email: boxoffice@iwm.org.uk
The Museum is now accepting entries for the Seventh Student Film Festival that
begins in November 2007. Go to http://www.iwm.org.uk/cinemafestival
or http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk

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