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17th November 2017

Manchester academic wins award for climate change film

Dr Joanne Jordan of the university’s Global Development Institute was recognised for her work exploring effects of and responses to climate change in Bangladeshi slums
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A Manchester academic and honorary research fellow has been commended with a prestigious award for a film concerning her research on climate change in Bangladesh.

Dr. Joanne Jordan, a lecturer in Climate Change and Development, received the International Development Award at the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s annual Research in Film Awards for her 20-minute documentary film.

“The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka”, tells the story of a research project she conducted in the Bangladeshi capital.

Over a period of several months, she conducted interviews with over 600 residents of the city’s slums on the everyday issues they faced relating to climate change and their methods of dealing with these issues.

Some of the most pressing concerns facing these communities included flooding, drainage congestion and heat stress – a condition arising from overheating, which has been frequently observed throughout South Asian counties in recent years.

The estimated 40 per cent of Dhaka’s population of almost 15 million who are slum residents are at increased risk of being affected by these factors, due to cheap slum housing being situated in low-lying areas close to large bodies of water.

The film, directed by Ehsan Kabir of the Bangladeshi media company Green Ink, also shows the development of a traditional Bangladeshi performance to share the findings of Dr. Jordan’s research with her interviewees and the wider community in Dhaka.

Together with the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Dhaka, Dr. Jordan also coordinated the creation of a Pot Gan.

This was described by a representative of the department as “one of the earliest forms of storytelling which has been performed for generations in Bangladesh.”

In this case, it was used to dramatise the environmental issues raised by the interviewees, as well as the social issues which arose in their community as a result.

The film sees the Pot Gan performed in the slums and at a reception at the British Council, with the aim of making the findings of the research accessible to a broader range of audiences across Dhaka’s social spectrum.

Versions of the film exist with English and Bengali subtitles, which have collectively been viewed more than 100,000 times online.

Photo: ahrcfilmaward

The prize winners at the Research in Film Awards each received a trophy and a grant of £2,000 towards future film projects at a  ceremony, which took place on the 9th of November at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

All films, across a range of genres including drama and animation, were less than 30 minutes long and the winning candidates were chosen by a panel of judges including arts and film academics.

Jan Dalley, the panel chair and Arts Editor at the Financial Times, remarked on this year’s “wonderfully varied” selection of winning films.

She praised their ability to “demonstrate the real impact of this art form and how carefully crafted work can take us on a journey of discovery and amazement in under 30 minutes”.

Another panelist, Professor Tom Inns of Glasgow School of Art, described Dr. Jordan’s film as “excellent”, adding that it “shone out from all the other films as a dynamic piece of practice-based research”.

He particularly emphasised the thoroughness and clarity the film offers into Dr. Jordan’s work: “The film captures the entirety of the research process – unlike other films that only showed the output or the discourse that the research stimulated, Joanne’s film really got under the bonnet of the actual research itself.”

Dr. Jordan said on the shortlisting of the film in September that this demonstrated “crucial support and recognition of the important role of film and performance theatre in challenging audiences to actively engage with the personal experiences of slum dwellers affected by climate change in Dhaka”.

She also emphasised her hope that the film would “raise some of the voices and stories from the communities living on the frontline of climate change. We must hear their stories.”

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