Negotiating Conflicts

The dawn of the 21st century has ushered in a transition in global conflict, from the large-scale massacres of the world wars, to the drone-dependent skirmishes now devouring the Middle East. With an ear to the noise of the changing times, Imperial War Museum, London, chronicles the history of British conflict since the WWI, telling the stories of people who have fought and died in the Commonwealth’s many battles. Their short film festival explores the causes and consequences of warfare with a slate of films aimed at addressing past and contemporary forms and side effects. Three films have been selected as 2017’s festival winners: Beauty of a Stateless Mind, Deeds not Words: The Suffragette Surgeons of WW1 and Lula.

Lutia Swan-Hutton discusses humanitarian and environmental challenges through Beauty of a Stateless Mind, a film that follows three artists living in the Calais Jungle refugee camp and their daily struggles therein. These challenges contrast the artists’ creative aspirations, humanising them and other refugees who are too often reduced to a faceless and distant mob by media and political dog-whistling. For its outstanding artistry, the film was won both the Annie Dodds Award for Best Documentary and the IWM Special Category: The Age of Terror award.

Alison Ramsey wins the Best Use of IWM Archive Material award for Deeds not Words, which she created in collaboration with the Digital Drama production company. Using rare photographs, film and correspondence, the documentary tells the stories of suffragettes Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett Anderson as they founded the Endell Street Hospital as part of their campaign for women’s voting rights. The short reveals previously unheard accounts from that Suffragette movement through its innovative use of IWM’s extensive archival materials.

Departing from the documentary strand is Aoife O’Kelly’s Lula, winner of the Best Creative Response and Best Student Film awards. Based on a true story, and set in German-occupied Poland during WWII, pregnant Lula receives an unwelcome visit from Gestapo searching for her husband. As the encounter unfolds, she is faced with the difficult choice between protecting her husband or their unborn child. The film investigates the importance of individual’s choices amidst the ethical implication of war.

IWM Short Film Festival 2017 runs 17-26 November. Find out more at:

1. Trailer for Lutia Swan-Hutton’s Beauty of a Stateless Mind. Courtesy of Vimeo.