British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Screening European Heritage

In addition to the main research questions, we also set ourselves the challenge of collaborative events, and of developing innovative and useful research outputs and activities that would enhance, attract and showcase the whole range of interaction the project undertook. In this way we hoped we might have immediate, accumulative and ultimately demonstrable impact that was not abstract or impossible to calculate. The project began with a research workshop in December 2012. This event was rooted in knowledge exchange, with academics and colleagues from the film and heritage industries coming together to collectively explore our research questions. In reaching out to the wider academic sector and public audience, we recognised that the digital 21st century has transformed the 20th century initiative to study film.

The effect of multiplying media platforms on the academic discipline of film studies … reflects the way that the digital age has impacted upon educational technology in particular …

The effect of multiplying media platforms on the academic discipline of film studies, the take-up of filmmaking skills by those who teach film studies and the deployment of those competences in influencing, informing and even shaping of relevant, coherent curricula reflects the way that the digital age has impacted upon the audio-visual world in general and on educational technology in particular, with increasing crossover and convergence. Such technological transformations must be integrated within academic study because student skills will only become professional competences when the curriculum reflects and deploys them accordingly. It thus behoves educators to add skills in filmmaking and (at least) online distribution to their traditional deployment of textual and comparative analysis that conforms to the humanities model. Thus, the participants in this project committed themselves to personal investment in transferable skills that included practical and theoretical knowledge of new technologies. Thanks to lightweight digital cameras and screen-based editing programmes we were able to create video interviews with key participants and video essays too – short films of between five and 15 minutes that covered overarching themes, examined key films or provided specific scene analysis. These are all available on our project website. The take-up of these has been interesting – they now figure on the syllabi of several courses in European and American universities. We made a more abstract short film too. Between Sunrise and Sunless considered tourism and cinematic pilgrimages in relation to the film Before Sunrise (1995), channelled through Chris Marker’s 1983 film Sans soleil, and this video has registered several thousand plays on the various Internet sites in which it has been embedded.

We are also making a full length documentary on Basque Heritage Cinema, which is currently 32 minutes long, with ambition to reach an hour. This was shown at the project’s international conference in September this year and has been invited to be screened at the universities of Pamplona, Cambridge, Queens  at Belfast and William and Mary in the USA. We have also begun to explore the potential public policy implications of the project’s findings, along with its potential for enhancing the way young people can use heritage films and heritage sites to explore their individual histories.

The project is ongoing, so if you’d like to know more please take a look at the project website ( and get in touch.

Axel Bangert (University of Cambridge)
Paul Cooke (University of Leeds)
Rob Stone (University of Birmingham)

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