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Sam Jury refugee film wins prestigious UK award
The story which is told through the words of a young female Sahrawi translator and framed by excerpts from Ben Rawlence’s searing book City of Thorns puts a spotlight on the daily life of refugees – especially women – who have been living in the camp since 1975.

NEW YORK, NY.- Artist Sam Jury’s film To Be Here, illuminating a critical aspect of the global refugee crisis, wins the UK’s prestigious Arts and Humanities Research Council’s 2018 Research in Film Award in the Move Award: Stories of New Beginnings category. The awards were announced in a ceremony at BAFTA London on Nov 8th.

Sam Jury is currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina where the award-winning film To Be Here is being presented as part of the Bienal De La Imagen Movimiento (BIM).

To Be Here focuses on Sahrawi refugees living in the Boujdour Camp near Tindouf Algeria and is based on material gathered during the artist’s Artifariti-sponsored residency at the camp in the Western Sahara. It explores the prolonged displacement endured by Sahrawi refugees who fled their homeland during the Western Saharan War. To Be Here brings attention to one of the longest running refugee crises in the modern world.

The story which is told through the words of a young female Sahrawi translator and framed by excerpts from Ben Rawlence’s searing book City of Thorns puts a spotlight on the daily life of refugees – especially women – who have been living in the camp since 1975. The film traces their journey, from the early days when they constructed the buildings in the camp themselves, to their struggle for selfdetermination. Many of the women were forced to leave behind family members, including their own children. While the term refugee implies a temporary status, at least half of those in the camps have lived in temporary homes all their lives – some for nearly 50 years. As Jury explains: “beyond the bio-medical trauma of the refugee condition, and scarcity of commodities, exists an abiding malaise represented by the loss of both homeland and the right to self-determination.”

The film was initially presented as a multi-screen video and sound installation curated by Steven L. Bridges at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum/MSU. It has screened internationally including back in the camp in the Western Sahara.

Sam Jury is an artist working in the areas of new media, moving image, and installation. Her practice-led research investigates the psychological impact of moving image and societal narratives of trauma. Jury is recipient of several honors including the Rose Art Museum’s Perlmutter Award, 1st Prize in MIT’s Public Art in a Changing World, and a number of Arts Council England awards. Her work is held in public collections such as The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, and the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center, Budapest. She teaches at Hertfordshire University, Cambridge UK, and received her MFA from Cornell University, USA.

Her film Popehelm screens at Whitechapel Gallery, London November 29th as part of the Disasters of Peace program with the artist in attendance.

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