Film & Screen Arts student selected for NAHEMI 2020 programme
BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts student at Plymouth College of Art, Yergalem Carimini, has had her short film ‘La Volpe’ selected as part of the National Association for Higher Education in Moving Image (NAHEMI) 2020 programme, with her work previously being shown at Encounters Film Festival 2020.
Made under lockdown conditions in her home country of Italy, ‘La Volpe’ is a great example of a single location film, with a set built in Yergalem’s family home and featuring a cast of her family members. Set in a dystopian future, the four-minute film shows a character in a world where you are raised to work a single job for the rest of your life, following a narrative loosely based on the tragic events linked to the Taiwanese electrical company Foxconn.
Yergalem said, “During my first year I was told about Foxconn, which was a company that used to make electronic parts for iPhones, and how in the early 2000s, there were some concerns about the working environment there. There was an incident of employee suicides and their solution was to install nets to protect the buildings and the lives of those who fell. It really struck me. I originally wanted my idea to be in the form of an art installation, playing with ideas of being confined to a room and exploring the exploitation aspect. Obviously, covid happened so I ended up flying home to Italy. It was my tutors who suggested that I turn my idea into a film, but I really didn’t know how I was going to do it. I knew I had to create a narrative instead.”
“I presented the script to my friends, and it turned out they loved it and wanted to help, which made me so happy! I realised I didn’t need much to actually film it. The exterior shots were just down the road from my house. I told my Dad he was going to act in it, he didn’t think he could do it at first, but three days later and he’s saying he’s the next big thing! It was all done on a very low budget.
“My parents allowed me to turn a room in our house into a prison cell and props were sourced from my grandparents and friends. There’s one scene where my Dad breaks everything, so we had to make sure we could source things we could break! I built a lot of the set pieces, such as the message box that sits in front of the desk.
“It was a really personal production, it was my family and friends working at the same time, laughing together, eating together. It did feel like outside of the house, there was a pandemic raging, but while we worked, all within covid restrictions, of course, it was a lovely chance to feel like that wasn’t happening.”
NAHEMI acts as a forum for debate on all matters regarding the teaching of practice in the Moving Image in Higher Education, including the theory and history underpinning these practices. Every year, the association showcases a selection of students’ productions at national festivals such as Aesthetica Short Film Festival and Encounters Film Festival. Yergalem’s film joined other student short films from universities and educational institutions across the UK at the Encounters Film Festival, which was delivered digitally in September and October 2020.
Yergalem said, “They sent me an email about my film being screened, I had a period of self-doubt around the time I found out that it had been screened, so it was a really significant achievement for me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have my work shown! Self-validation is very important to me, I know you shouldn’t strive for external validation, which is easier said than done, but when you do get a victory, that recognition from someone else, it has real weight.”
“I’m really enjoying the BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts course. It’s great for people like me, who want to learn about the practical aspects of filming. It sounds childish but it was so pleasing to have the opportunity to play! Some universities I looked at, it felt like they assumed students would know how to use the equipment, but I wanted to learn it all! Every year, we get to do lots of collaborative projects, with the freedom to work with people from other courses. It's such a great way to challenge yourself. The course doesn’t just teach us how to make film, but allows us to explore what we enjoy, so we can set ourselves up for our future careers in the film industry. I had to choose Plymouth College of Art because of that.”
Chris Bailey, Subject Leader of BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts, said, “Yergalem's work is part of a constant way of working at Plymouth College of Art where we explore all of the different elements of film production and develop skills that can be applied across the whole process.
“Whilst the pandemic has been a really difficult time for everyone, we have seen a real sense of creative drive from many of our students, that is typified by 'La Volpe'. They continue to prove that they have the skills and knowledge to produce excellent work in so many ways and in all manner of circumstances, to an internationally recognised standard.”