Professor nominated for research film award

Zanzibar Soccer Dreams - still from film

A USW film-maker has been shortlisted for an Arts and Humanities Research Council's (AHRC) 2017 Research in Film Awards.

Professor Florence Ayisi's film 'Zanzibar Soccer Dreams' premiered in 2016 as a follow up to 'Zanzibar Soccer Queens'.

Females in Zanzibar were once called ‘hooligans’ because they dared to play football. Today – thanks to Professor Ayisi's film - they are seen as ambassadors for the country, and its government has changed official policy to encourage schoolgirls to play the sport.

‘Zanzibar Soccer Queens’ which was first released in 2007, focused on the country’s first female football team - Women Fighters FC – which was formed in 1988.

The success of the film – both with viewers and in changing views in Zanzibar, which is a semi-autonomous group of islands off East Africa – motivated Professor Ayisi to make a follow-up film, ‘Zanzibar Soccer Dreams’.

This is the film that has now been shortlisted in the International Development Award: Mobilising Global Voices category of the AHRC 2017 Research in Film Awards.

Professor Ayisi, said: "I am delighted that my documentary film, Zanzibar Soccer Dreams, has made the shortlist for the prestigious AHRC Research in Film Awards. Being shortlisted is a real boost to my academic research, which focuses mainly on using film to do research and disseminate scholarly knowledge.

"Making the shortlist is also a valuable recognition of the significance of film as a research tool to engage with a broad range of audiences beyond academia."  

“Making Zanzibar Soccer Dreams allowed me to continue the effort to highlight the challenges that women and girls there faced in the country, and how they were up against insults – they were called ‘hooligans’ for playing the game - and cultural challenges.

“The film shows changes in both the individuals featured, and the society they live in, as women’s soccer moved from the streets to the playing fields of government schools where young Muslim girls can now equally participate in soccer as part of sports education."

Launched in 2015, the AHRC 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.

Jan Dalley, Chair of the Judging Panel, said: “A team of judges watched the longlisted films in each of the categories to select the shortlist and ultimately the winner. Key criteria included looking at how the filmmakers came up with creative ways of telling stories – either factual or fictional – on camera that capture the importance of arts and humanities research to all of our lives.”

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Thursday 9 November 2017.


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