technē STUDENTSHIPS AT CREAM

OZLEM KOKSAL REPORTS ON SCREENING OF ACCLAIMED DOCUMENTARY ‘BLUE ISLAND’ AT CINÉ LUMIÈRE

JORAM TEN BRINK’S OBITUARY

CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media), University of Westminster, is a world-leading centre and pioneer in practice-based, critical, theoretical and historical research in the broad areas of art, creative and interdisciplinary practice. 

CREAM runs a dynamic programme of exhibitions, screenings  and talks throughout the year. CREAM researchers take part in wide ranging academic and public engagement activities, reflecting the diversity and international scope of our research culture. For upcoming programmes visit events.

Doctoral Programme

The CREAM doctoral programme hosts a thriving international community of researchers exploring issues in art and design, film, photography, moving image, ceramics, cultural studies, art and technology/science, and music.

technē STUDENTSHIPS AT CREAM

CREAM is now accepting applications for the AHRC-funded technē Doctoral Training Partnership, beginning in Autumn 2023.  

technē supports outstanding students pursuing the ‘craft’ of research through innovative, interdisciplinary and creative approaches across a range of the arts and humanities. The University of Westminster is one of the nine universities that make up the technē consortium. 

As well as financial support, technē offers a developmental framework for doctoral researchers across the collaborating institutions, with research training, supportive community networks, professional and public engagement opportunities and a space for both independent and collaborative scholarship. 

The studentships include maintenance and fees for 3.5 years for a full-time student; or 7 years for a part-time student at 50% of the full-time studentship level each year (pro-rata if you have already started your PhD). Studentships are open to students who have already started their doctoral study but they must have at least 50% of the funded period of an AHRC award (usually 18 months full time) remaining at the time they start their scholarship. 

International students are eligible to apply for studentships but will be expected to pay the difference between the home and international fee rate themselves (as the studentship will only cover fees at the home rate, plus the stipend).  

The deadline for applications is 5pm (GMT) on Friday 2 December 2022. Interviews will be held week commencing 16 January 2023. 

For further information on applying for technē studentships and funding opportunities for graduate research, please follow links to our Doctoral Programme.  

For more information on technē and the kinds of projects it funds, please see: techne.ac.uk 

OZLEM KOKSAL REPORTS ON SCREENING OF ACCLAIMED DOCUMENTARY ‘BLUE ISLAND’ AT CINÉ LUMIÈRE

Q&A moderated by Dr Ozlem Koksal with director Chan Tze Woon

A very special screening of the acclaimed 2022 documentary Blue Island by Chan Tze Woon took place on 27th October, co-hosted by CREAM, the MA Film, TV and Moving Image, and the French Institute. The well-attended screening at the Ciné Lumière was organised by CREAM’s Ozlem Koksal and Kit Hung, and a lively post screening discussion with the director followed. Dr Koksal reports on the rich Q&A discussion she moderated. 

Blue Island (2022) is Chan’s second feature length documentary, the first being Yellowing (2016). Both films draw inspiration from the current status of Hong Kong and the protests that started on the island in 2014. Blue Island is an ambitious, moving, and structurally complicated film, weaving various narrative devices and temporalities together. The documentary brings together activists and ex-activists in Hong Kong from different generations, using re-enactments to bond the young protestors in the present with those who had been involved in rebellion in their youth, albeit for different reasons. The film includes references to significant historical periods from British colonial rule in Hong Kong, to the Tiananmen massacre, and to the Cultural Revolution, alongside the present moment. Chan uses re-enactments, archival footage, as well as interviews, with constant references to contemporary Hong Kong and the more recent protests in 2019 against the recently amended extradition law. 

Blue Island (2022) Official Trailer

Given the complicated structure of the film, which goes back and forth between fictional and documentary scenes, I begun by asking Chan about his use of re-enactments. He smiled, saying ‘it wasn’t always planned like this”. Chan spoke of the period after the clamp down of the protests from 2014, referring to it as a “low period” where it became more and more difficult to express dissent and/or be critical. During this “low period” he wanted to make a film about Hong Kong while navigating the limitations. His initial idea was to make a film about the history of Hong Kong from Hong Kongers’ perspective, and that is when Chan started thinking about using re-enactments. However, during the process of interviews for the casting, he noticed many of the young people he was interviewing were, in one way or another, involved in the current protests. Chan recalled that it was then that he started thinking that conversations between generations, conversations about the past and the present of Hong Kong, should also be included in the film. 

Blue Island is formally highly self-reflexive, with many scenes including the director and/or the crew giving instructions to actors or being captured on camera while filming scenes. Chan talked about his desire to make films that allow for critical engagement, inviting his audiences to think about what is being presented rather than trying to convince them of his own convictions. The complex structure, and the combination of narrative devices, not only help him to create a more pensive audience but also speak to the nature of memory, a very pertinent issue in the film. Chan often blurs the distinction between the fictionalised parts of the film and the documentary footage, which then enables him to capture something else in the process, something that speaks to the history of Hong Kong and the memories of Hong Kongers. 

When asked about whether he had doubts or worries about the decision to juxtapose events that might be considered very different, Chan responded by saying he has had a variety of responses. He added that his aim was to look at Hong Kong’s history and how that specific history has affected, and continues to affect, the people of Hong Kong, their present circumstances and their future. During the Q&A, he thoughtfully reflected on how he had to think about making a film that would communicate to very different audiences, reconciling audiences with knowledge and experience of Hong Kong and audiences with an interest in but limited knowledge of the history of Hong Kong. 

The audience at the French Institute screening had many interesting comments and questions for Chan, enabling him to speak on topics ranging from his experience as a Hong Konger to how Hong Kong diaspora received the film in various parts of the world. Unfortunately, Blue Island has not been screened in Hong Kong due to the current political situation and the censorship practices. 

We are grateful to the French Institute and Haven Production for generously facilitating this screening, and above all the audience for their thoughtful and thought-provoking interactions. 

Kit Hung’s extended dialogue with Chan Tze Woon will be published in the forthcoming issue of NANG cinema magazine, issue 10 ‘Futures,’ guest edited by May Adadol Ingawanij

JORAM TEN BRINK’S OBITUARY

We are very sad to learn that Professor Joram ten Brink has passed away. Joram was a much-admired colleague in Westminster School of Arts from 1989 until 2017, and a key member of CREAM at its inception. In 2017, he retired with a debilitating illness from which he never recovered.

CREAM members and University of Westminster alumni have very fond memories of working with Joram on cross-institutional projects in our sector, including the AHRC-funded AVPhD. He was an inspiring teacher and larger than life character who did much to support film culture in higher education, as his colleagues and many former students will testify. At Westminster, Joram taught on the BA in Contemporary Media Practice and BA Film and Television. He was also instrumental in setting up CREAM’s practice-based PhD programmes in the early 2000s.

Joram came to film via musicology and visual anthropology. He became an award-winning filmmaker (JacobaThe Man who Couldn’t FeelJourney Through the Night), whose research explored documentary and the essay film, culminating in conferences, articles and the books Building Bridges: the cinema of Jean Rouch, and Killer Images: Documentary Film, Memory and the Performance of Violence. He also led the ground-breaking AHRC project Genocide and Genre, through which Joshua Oppenheimer’s feature documentaries The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence were developed, with Joram as a producer on both films.

Our thoughts are with his beloved family, Atalia and Na’ama ten Brink, at this time.