Falmouth graduate wins South West Award at Encounters Film Festival
20 October 2023
Encounters Film Festival, held in Bristol every summer, nurtures new talent by providing a platform for emerging filmmakers from around the world. This year, out of 4000 submissions, the festival selected just 80 short films to play in competition across the International, National, Out of Competition and South West programmes.
Winning the South West Award, Sam Bestwick’s film Dowr Tamar explores the evolution of the Tamar, the river that forms most of the border between Devon and Cornwall, and how its landscape has changed through time. Through this focus in environmentalism, Sam also explores the people and communities that have called the river home.
Sam began work on the film primarily for an art exhibition at Grays Wharf in Penryn. Since this initial exhibition the work has gone on to be shown across the county, including as part of a group show at the Mirror gallery in Plymouth.
Of the film, the judging panel wrote: “This film cleverly weaves relevant themes into its rich and poetic narrative. The connection of humankind to the natural world, the effects of industrial progress, and the passage of time are seamlessly intertwined through varied video formats, sound, and music, delivering a truly captivating cinematic experience.”
Speaking about to us about Encounters Film Festival and the process of making the film, Sam said: “I am incredibly grateful to have won this and quite taken aback by it, especially considering the quality of the other films included in the competition. Overall, I'm just really thankful that the work continues to be shown and that people are connecting with it.
“The chronological use of scratch film, 8mm, 16mm, DV tape and digital recording serves to mirror the technological development of the bridges as well the county’s progression through industry.
“I’ve always drawn inspiration from the history and culture of a landscape, but it was during a train journey over the Royal Albert bridge at Plymouth that this exact combination of influences fused into one idea.
“Though the film is based in the South-West of England, its basis in environmentalism makes it applicable to all, now more than ever. The film is set along the border of Cornwall and Devon and captures this local landscape, its history, people and communities, but it is also about our collective relationship to our environment, the impact our activities have and how we are fundamentally changing the climate.”
A Cornwall-based artist and filmmaker, Sam has won several awards for his work and has seen his work exhibited throughout the South West and beyond. For more information on his past and ongoing projects, head over to his website.