From Poirot to poppers! Jarman award shortlist celebrates ‘risk-taking’ film-makers

From Agatha Christie novels to montages of gay porn, the source material for the 2022 Film London Jarman award nominees list is as varied as the work itself.

This year’s contenders for the £10,000 prize include British-Kenyan filmmaker Grace Ndiritu, whose 2021 film Black Beauty sets an advert for factor 5,000 skin cream against a hallucinatory television interview with the writer Jorge Luis Borges. And Onyeka Igwe, a London-based artist whose 2022 film The Miracle on George Green tells the story of the children who tried to save an ancient sweet chestnut tree in Wanstead, east London by writing letters addressed to the treehouse inside it.

The award, which is named after the pioneering filmmaker Derek Jarman and recognises British artists working with moving images, has gained a reputation for spotting burgeoning talent within the UK art scene. Previous names on the shortlist have included Heather Phillipson, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Monster Chetwynd and Charlotte Prodger.

Rosa-Johan Uddoh, an interdisciplinary artist inspired by Black feminist practice, is another hotly tipped name on the shortlist. She reimagines classic literature with Black Poirot (2019-2021), which is billed as a “20-minute ride on the Orientalised-Other Express”, whereas her other films investigate the lack of Black British history on the national curriculum (2021’s Practice Makes Perfect) and racial passing in African-American social institutions (2021’s Brown Paper Envelope Test).

Elsewhere, Glasgow School of Art graduate Jamie Crewe offers up a disorientating sensory overload with 2022’s False Wife, which was inspired by compilations of pornography known as “poppers training videos” that instruct users into achieving greater pleasure through the use of amyl nitrate.

Making up the list are London-based artist and writer Morgan Quaintance, who looks at the vibrant cultural scene of Senegal’s capital city with 2019’s Letter from Dakar, and Alberta Whittle, a Barbadian-Scottish multimedia artist, researcher and curator whose 40-minute 2022 film Lagareh shines a light on the racial injustices of the UK prison system, and whose 2020 work Holding The Line came together during the BLM protests.

Adrian Wootton , chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Risk-taking in both subject matter and form, the 2022 shortlist showcases a diversity of themes that question and articulate the world around us.”

The winner of this year’s Jarman award is set to be announced on the week of 21 November. The work of the nominees can be viewed in the run-up to the event on the Whitechapel Gallery website as well as at various cultural venues around the country.

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