School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

News Item

You Can’t Move History wins Best Research Film of the Year

'You Can’t Move History' is an in depth account of the 2013 battle to save the Southbank Skate Park and won in the 2016 Arts and Humanities Research Council 'Research in Film Awards'

Monday 14 November 2016, London: The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) unveiled the five winning films for their 2016 Research in Film Awards at a glittering awards ceremony, held at BAFTA. You Can’t Move History won Best Research Film of the Year. The film, about Long Live South Bank’s campaign to save the undercoft, was produced by Pollyanna Ruiz, Tim Snelson, Rebecca Madgin and David Webb in collaboration with the BrazenBunch and directed by skater turned filmmaker Winstan Whitter.

Skating is an art form still widely overlooked by society and is often categorised as a refuge for misfits. This misunderstanding underpinned a 2013 redevelopment initiative which would have seen the iconic Southbank skate spot closed. Since 1973, a profound cultural advancement has emerged through the Skate spot and has brought life and colour to the monolithic slabs of roughly finished concrete that house the arts centre.

Winstan Whitter says, “with this film we wanted to take the viewer to the heart of the skating experience.” Using magnificent fish-eye filming and a mainly black and white colour scape, save for brilliant splashes of graffiti that provide a vibrant backdrop, the film captures the artistry and skill of skating. With no soundtrack except for the constant rhythm of clicks, drops and evocative echoes of hard wheels rolling and spinning on concrete, the film explores through a series of vox pops, the cultural importance of the Southbank Skate community and their determination to save the park.

With the proposed expansion of the arts centre and additions of yet more retail outlets, the Southbank Centre was in danger of losing an a rich and organic socio-artistic movement, happening right on their doorstep. 'You Can’t Move History' is a powerful, lucid example of what can be achieved through passion, social engagement and determination.

Launched 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 winning films were selected from a shortlist of 25 covering stories from across the world, and addressing a wide range of topical subjects from landscape and environmental change to capital punishment, people trafficking, and poverty. Entries for the awards this year hit a record high, hundreds of submissions up by 20% on last year. The overall winner for each category will receive £2,000 towards their filmmaking.

Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of the Financial Times and Chair of the Judging Panel, said, “The second year of AHRC's Research in Film Awards has brought a fantastic range of powerful short documentary films of the highest quality and the judges had a really tough job to make their choices. Each of the winning films, which tell such amazing stories so well, beautifully illustrate the power of film-making as a medium to capture the importance and impact of research.”

Mike Collins, Head of Communications, AHRC said, “All of the winning film-makers have taken the craft of making films about research to a new level, with an eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, that they can all be rightly proud of.  I was so impressed by all of the films and the ability to develop a compelling narrative that was captivating, engaging and entertaining.”

Watch 'You Can't Move History' film on our engagement webpages and read Dr David Webb's blog post.

published on: 28 November 2016