Cultural Diplomacy Research Series 1

NASS Indian Ocean Screen Production
and Research Collaboration (SPARC)


Postgraduate Research in Screen Production and Creative Arts Practice

Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
June 28-30, 2013

 This conference was co-hosted by the NASS Research Centre (on behalf of the WA SPARC group) and the Zanzibar International Film Festival.

NASS/ZIFF Conference Image 1
ZIFF Poster on the World Heritage Listed Old Fort, Stone Town, Zanzibar

NASS/ZIFF Conference Image 2
Open-Air Theatre, Stone Town Old Fort Cultural Centre, Zanzibar

Special Conference-Festival Guests

ZIFF/NASS Conference-Festival had a range of very impressive presenters. Perhaps the best known was Mira Nair whose film Reluctant Fundamentalist launched the Festival. Nair’s filmography includes: Salaam Bombay 1988, Mississippi Marsala 1991, Kama Sutra 1995, Monsoon Wedding 2001, Amelia, 2009 along with Reluctant Fundamentalist, 2013. What is less known about Nair’s work is her engagement with the training of African filmmakers. This made her an ideal presenter at the Conference on screen production.

NASS/ZIFF Conference Image 3
Zanzibar Conference guest Mira Nair (poster)

Yet another significant participant at the Conference was Ms Joan Peters, who like Mira Nair, has also been involved with the training of African filmmakers. In addition to her African work, Ms Peters, had become a member of the Screen Australia Board – the principle funding body of the Australian screen industry.The Conference setting made it possible for the Conference participants to discuss with her the difficult issue of university-industry relationships in a most collegial of manner. This discussion was something that will be developed further in the future.

Indian Ocean SPARC: Cultural Diplomacy Manifesto

At the conclusion of the Conference all participants were invited to acclaim the following Cultural Diplomacy manifesto and to take it to their institutions:

We the undersigned wish to contribute to the scholarly collaboration in the Indian Ocean region.

Our long-term aim is to establish authentic cross-cultural links and cross-cultural exchanges between practice-based researchers working in the countries on the rim of Indian Ocean. Ideally we want movements of researchers in all directions, giving rise to a web of connections and interconnections. The linkages we seek are similar to exchanges in commerce that have always taken place along Indian Ocean trade routes. But instead of trading with goods and materials we intend to trade, exchange and construct stories together for the benefit of all concerned. We see this as an essential step in developing good relations amongst all people and countries in the Indian Ocean region.

Specifically we would like to affirm the following two elements of our collaborative research aspirations:

  1. Scholarly Exchanges:We anticipate vibrant scholarly exchanges of research staff, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate research students and will encourage all our institutions to allocate at least one adjunct position for the visiting practice-based researchers working in the Indian Ocean region.
  2. Ring of Festival-Conferences:Our aim is to meet annually and share outcomes of our research practice in a conference-festival setting. If we do this at a different locality each year it will give rise to lasting bonds of collegiality as well as eager anticipation of our next gathering.