Skateboarding film wins prestigious award

A film produced by a University of Sussex academic about the battle to save a valuable London skate spot came away with a top prize at the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s annual Research in Film Awards at London last night (10 November).

‘You Can’t Move History’ is about Long Live South Bank’s campaign to save the Undercroft Skate Spot from redevelopment by Lambeth Council in 2013.

The documentary was produced by Dr Pollyanna Ruiz, lecturer in media and communications at the University of Sussex, alongside Dr Tim Snelson from UEA, Dr Rebecca Madgin from Glasgow University and Dr David Webb from Newcastle University, in collaboration with the Brazen Bunch. It was directed by skater turned filmmaker Winstan Whitter. 

The team beat four other shortlisted films and hundreds of other submissions to the prize at an awards ceremony held at BAFTA and will receive £2,000 towards their future filmmaking ambitions from the AHRC. The film can be viewed online here

Commenting on the award, Dr Ruiz said: “The whole team is shocked but honoured to have been given such recognition by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, as the standard of the other nominees was so high.

“It’s fantastic to have had the creativity and commitment of the skaters recognised by such a prestigious prize, as working with them has been a wonderful experience for all of us!”

Using evocative fish-eye filming techniques and a simple colour palette, Whitter’s film aims to take the viewer to the heart of the skating experience and capture the artistry and talent involved. 

Featuring footage of and interviews with people associated with the Undercroft and the skaters who call it a home from home, the work seeks to highlight the inherent value in such an organically emergent community that maintains a unique cultural identity among the identikit chain outlets along the South Bank.

With no soundtrack except for the constant rhythm of clicks, drops and evocative echoes of hard wheels rolling and spinning on concrete, the judges called the film an ‘innovative, clever journey through heritage, youth perspective and architecture.’

Set up in 2015, the Research in Film Awards celebrate short films, up to 30 minutes long, that have been made about the arts and humanities and their influence on our lives.

The five films were selected from shortlist of 25 covering stories from across the world, and addressing a wide range of subjects from landscape and environmental change to capital punishment, people trafficking, and poverty.

All the winning films can be viewed by visiting the AHRC website.

By: Patrick Reed
Last updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2016