BFE-RAI Ethnomusicology Film Award

This prize is awarded to the most outstanding film about music/sound in the world submitted to the biennial RAI Film Festival. Special consideration will be given to innovative audiovisual work that increases knowledge and understanding of musicians, music cultures or soundscapes. The film must be substantial (at least 30 minutes long) and should address issues of concern in ethnomusicology, but need not necessarily belong to any conventional ethnographic genre. The value of the prize is £250. The Ethnomusicology Film Award is sponsored by the British Forum for Ethnomusicology.

The 17th edition of the festival RAI Film Festival will take place 19-28 March 2021, online.

The festival includes an academic conference, which is fully integrated into the film festival. View the list of panels here. Panel, paper and film submissions are now closed.

RAI Film Festival

Since 1982, the RAI Film Festival (formerly knows as the RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film) has served as a leading forum for exploring the multiple relationships between documentary filmmakinganthropology, visual culture, and the advocacy of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue through film. The festival takes place biennially, and since 2015 has had its home at Watershed, an independent arthouse cinema in Bristol (UK). In 2021 the festival will take place online.

The festival showcases films organised in a number of strands (main competition, student films, short films) and it assigns a number of prizes and awards. The film screenings are accompanied by workshops, masterclasses, and an academic conference.

The RAI Film Festival is organised by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, a scholarly organisation devoted to anthropology in all its many fields and applications.


Previous Winners

2019 - Up Down and Sideways (dirs. Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar)

Almost all of the 5000 inhabitants of the village of Phek in Nagaland, India (close to the border with Myanmar) cultivate rice for their own consumption. As they work in cooperative groups, the rice cultivators of Phek sing. The seasons change, and so does the music, transforming the mundane into the hypnotic. The love that they sing of is also a metaphor for the need for the other - the friend, the family, the community, to build a polyphony of voices. Stories of love, stories of the field, stories of song, stories in song. Up, Down and Sideways is a musical portrait of a community of rice cultivators and their memories of love and loss, created from working together on the fields.