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Birkbeck film shortlisted for Best Research Film of the Year

Nasheed Qamar Faruqi's film David Hawkins: A Battle of the Mind was chosen out of hundreds of submissions by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

David Hawkins: A Battle of the Mind, a new film by Nasheed Qamar Faruqui with the Hidden Persuaders Research Group, has been shortlisted for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards in the category of Best Research Film of the Year. Hidden Persuaders is funded by the Wellcome Trust, and based at Birkbeck.

Hundreds of films were submitted for the Awards this year, with the winner for each category set to receive £2,000 to use towards their filmmaking at a ceremony at BAFTA’s London HQ this November. Launched in 2015, the Research in Film Awards celebrate short films that have been made about the arts and humanities and their influence on our lives.

David Hawkins:  A Battle of the Mind tells the story of US Prisoner of War David Hawkins who, along with 20 other US combatants, chose to live in Communist China rather than be repatriated to the United States at the end of the Korean War in 1953. Labelled as turncoats or even eventually "Manchurian candidates", these men focused western Cold War anxieties around ‘brainwashing’, integrity and propaganda during the height of McCarthyism.

The film explores David Hawkins' subjective journey during the war, in China, and since his return to the United States in 1957. It captures valuable historical testimony from a seminal moment in Cold War history and in the history of discourses around 'brainwashing'. It also explores the role - both real and imagined - played by psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts in this history. David Hawkins' story reflects how these disciplines and David himself have pictured tyranny and freedom of the mind, providing an insight into how the 'psy' disciplines were mobilised in social and political critique during this period.

Filmmaker Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, said: “I am delighted that David Hawkins: A Battle of the Mind has been shortlisted for Best Research Film by the AHRC. Working with the Hidden Persuaders Group at Birkbeck has been a truly inspiring experience for me and my team. I remain grateful to them, and to David Hawkins, for the opportunity to tell such an intimate story about Cold War history. I hope the nomination will draw more attention to David Hawkins' personal history during and after the Korean War, and to discourses about ‘brainwashing’. Today this personal angle on a seminal moment in the Cold War seems more relevant than ever.” 

Mike Collins, Head of Communications at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: "The standard of filmmaking in this year's Research in Film Awards has been exceptionally high and the range of themes covered span the whole breadth of arts and humanities subjects.

"While watching the films I was impressed by the careful attention to detail and rich storytelling that the filmmakers had used to engage their audiences. The quality of the shortlisted films further demonstrates the endless potential of using film as a way to communicate and engage people with academic research. Above all, the shortlist showcases the art of filmmaking as a way of helping us to understand the world that we live in today."

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