1 October 2015
Two documentary films exploring language diversity in Senegal and oral history in Mali produced by SOAS scholars have been shortlisted in the Arts & Humanities Research Council Research in Films Award (AHRC)
The films are KANRAXËL: The Confluence of Agnack, shortlisted in the ‘Best film produced by a researcher or research team in the last year’ category and The Voice of Tradition shortlisted in the ‘The Anniversary Award – Best AHRC/AHRB- funded film since 1998’ category.
KANRAXËL: The Confluence of Agnack, filmed at Professor Friederike Lüpke’s, field site in Senegal, was produced within the AHRC-funded collaborative skills developments scheme 'Language research and teaching in a multilingual world'.
This scheme was run at SOAS between 2012 and 2013 by Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Director of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, Professor Friederike Lüpke, Professor of Language Documentation and Description and Dr Noriko Iwasaki, Senior Lecturer in Language Pedagogy.
The film paints a realistic portrait of diversity and multilingualism as a daily, hourly linguistic practice, drawing the audience in by telling the story of the village of Agnack Grand in Senegal preparing for an unforgettable event. The extraordinary multilingualism of this West African region is now the subject of a major research project at SOAS.
The film focuses on one of Mali’s most iconic and revered singers, Bako Dagnon, who passed away aged only 62. Musicians such as Ali Farka Touré and Rokia Traoré were inspired by her voice, which was not only beautiful, but carried great authority.
Between 2009 and 2012, the 'Growing into Music in Mali' film team filmed this wonderful singer at her home in Bamako, as well as in her remote native village, Golobladji. Some of these scenes can be seen in 'Da Kali - the pledge to the art of the griots', from which this shorter film, 'Bako Dagnon - the voice of tradition', is extracted. The film includes rare footage of the sansene in Golobladji – a tradition of songs sung to encourage farmers in their laborious work in the fields during the rainy season – one of the main contexts in which young children learn to sing.
Clips of shortlisted films will be screened on 12 November at the British Film Institute where the winner will be announced.