John Akomfrah OBE
Nowadays making films is easy. But making films that work, socially, politically and aesthetically, is a different matter.
John is a BAFTA nominee and a BFI Grierson Award winner who has been making deeply political and innovative films since the early 80s. He co-founded the radical Black Audio Film Collective that made the landmark Handsworth Songs (1985), a meditative yet searing experimental documentary about the riots in Birmingham.
John has developed an outstanding body of work spanning installation, film, photography, television work and documentary. It engages with themes of migration, memory and the relationships between the old colonial powers and the developing world. His position as one of Britain’s leading artists and filmmakers was confirmed with the selection of his latest work Vertigo Sea (2015), a three-screen installation forming a meditation on whaling, the environment and our relationship with the sea, at the prestigious Venice Biennale.
Growth of film practice
John is Newcastle’s second Visiting Professor of Film Practice, following celebrated documentary maker Nick Broomfield who took up his position in September 2015.
The appointments of two of Britain’s top filmmakers are part of an ambitious growth in film practice at Newcastle University. This includes two new undergraduate degrees and a new state-of-the-art centre for film practice, Film@CultureLab, housed in the internationally renowned Culture Lab.
John will be supporting the development of practice-based research culture in film and advising on the development of a new MA in Creative Film Practice.
Dr Ian McDonald, who is Director of Film@CultureLab, commented: “John is an artist and filmmaker at the top of his game, so we are thrilled to have got him. His ability to produce work across gallery space and cinema is really amazing and his expansive work on the diasporic experience, on migration and racism is as urgent and necessary today as it was 30 years ago. We are really fortunate to have John on board.”
Responding to the news of his appointment, John commented: “Nowadays making films is easy. But making films that work, socially, politically and aesthetically, is a different matter. Ian and his team in Film@CultureLab have set out an exciting vision to do just this, so I am really happy to play whatever part I can to support them as a Visiting Professor.”
Based in Film@CultureLab, John’s three year appointment as Visiting Professor in Film Practice is jointly supported by the Newcastle University Institute for Creative Arts Practice and the Media, Culture, Heritage section of the School of Arts and Cultures.
published on: 2 March 2016