In one film, a mother talks about visions of turning her baby into a fried egg – and then eating it. In another, the traditional martial arts movie gets reimagined as an impressively choreographed African wedding ceremony.
The nominees for this year’s Jarman award, which recognise the pioneering work of UK-based artist film-makers, show how the field of the moving image is becoming increasingly diverse and inventive.
Among the six shortlisted artists for the £10,000 prize are Rehana Zaman, who makes use of archive footage of the Toxteth race riots in Liverpool in her film How Does An Invisible Boy Disappear?, and Imran Perretta, whose powerful and disorientating Brother to Brother features a vulnerable hooded figure and was inspired by an incident in which the artist was detained at a London airport.
Elsewhere, Mikhail Karikis’s Ain’t Got No Fear follows a neon-masked gang of kids through the marshland of the Isle of Grain in Kent, while Cécile B Evans explores the impact of technology on our emotional wellbeing. Beatrice Gibson explores motherhood and our fears of what the future may hold, while Hetain Patel uses humour and smart pop-culture references in order to bridge the divide between different cultures.
Making use of everything from state-of-the-art digital animation to analogue 16mm film, the nominee’s showcase the format’s increasing diversity. Yet they all grapple, in some way, with today’s increasingly perilous political climate.
Now in its 10th year, the award – named after the film-maker Derek Jarman – has picked up a reputation for spotting emerging talent. Previous shortlisted artists have included Laure Prouvost, Elizabeth Price, Monster Chetwynd, Duncan Campbell, James Richards, Charlotte Prodger, Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Luke Fowler, all of whom went on to be shortlisted for or to win the Turner prize.
Last year’s winner, Daria Martin, told the Guardian that moving images have become an increasingly vital part of the art world, especially for the younger generation: “It’s become really apparent this last five years: whether it’s gaming or sampling from videos downloaded from YouTube, they’re using that digital realm as their material base.”
Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “This year’s Jarman award shortlist is a fantastic showcase of original work that seeks to question, alter and articulate the modern world around us by exploring prevalent topics such as the environment, identity and consumerism. With practices ranging from puppetry and animation to dance and poetry, these artists highlight the breadth of creativity and craftsmanship that art-film has to offer, as well as its powerful ability to immerse and provoke audiences.”
The winner will be announced at the Barbican in London on 25 November. In the run-up to the prize ceremony, the shortlisted artists’ work will be touring across 10 UK venues, concluding with a weekend of screenings, discussions and performances at the Whitechapel Gallery in London on 16 and 17 November.