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Professor Virginia K Heath

Professor of Film


Summary

As Professor of Film, I have written and directed several award-winning films and have a strong a track record in research. I also teach on the MA Filmmaking course. My teaching is very much influenced and enriched by my research projects and I have a history of engaging MA students in my research. My films have been screened at international film festivals including Berlin, Cannes, The Hamptons, New York, Vancouver, St Petersburg and won awards such as ‘Relativity’ - “Best Short Film” at the Berlin International Film Festival 2002, and a BAFTA nomination for ‘From Scotland With Love’ 2014.

About

My research practice is focused on writing and directing a body of distinctive and internationally recognised films which investigate questions of female sexuality, gender, identity, empowerment of marginalised voices and experimentation with narrative form.

I write and direct both documentary and drama films including the acclaimed, BAFTA nominated, From Scotland With Love and Berlinale award winning Relativity. I am currently in development on a hybrid feature documentary, ‘Mae West: Boxer in a Corset’ with support from Screen Scotland, Getty Images, Autlook FilmSales, City University New York (CUNY) and the Art Design and Media Research Centre (SHU).

My latest music documentary ‘Cigar Box Blues – The Makers of a Revolution’ screened on BBC1 and on BBC4 (December 2020) and was described in the Radio Times as ‘an oddball gem’. My short film ‘Three Chords and the Truth’, nominated for ‘Best Short Documentary’ at the Woodstock Film Festival, Upstate New York; Muenster Film Festival, Germany; Nashville Film Festival; won an ‘Honourable Mention’ at the Albuquerque Film and Music Festival, New Mexico.

My award-winning drama film Lift Share was funded by Screen Scotland and the British Film Institute, starring Ana Ularu (Siberia, Emerald City) and Mark Rowley (Last Kingdom, Macbeth). It premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018; won ‘Best Drama Short’ Award at the CPH Copenhagen Film Festival (2019) and ‘Best Sound Design’ Award at the Underwire Film Festival, London, dedicated to celebrating the cinematic talents of women (Nov 2018). It also screened at international festivals in Rome, New York, Bucharest and Armenia. I recently directed We Are All Migrants (20’), an immersive archive and music documentary, which is a poetic reflection on the 20th century migrant experience supported by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA).

In 2014, I directed the BAFTA nominated feature length archive and music documentary From Scotland With Love (75’) which screened with live performances of the score at the Edinburgh International Festival, Barbican, Celtic Connections as well as film festivals around the world – ‘Brilliantly evokes the flavour of 20th century Scotland’ - The Herald; ‘Hypnotic’ - The Independent; ‘Some kind of genius’ - The Guardian. A highly successful reprise tour of the film and live music performance in March 2020 played to sold out venues including the Barbican, Usher Hall, Edinburgh and Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow.

My short film Relativity (10’) won ‘Best Short Film’ at the Berlin International Film Festival (2002) and was nominated for the European Film Academy Awards. I won a National Film Board of Canada / Sheffield Doc/Fest Cross Media Challenge Award (2009) for the My Dangerous Loverboy film and innovative Cross Platform Project about the sex trafficking of teenagers. My drama films Deep Freeze (15’) and Point Annihilation (30’) screened on Channel 4 and at international festivals such as The Hamptons, New York, St Tropez ‘Cinema Des Antipodes’ and Cannes Cinefondation. I wrote and directed several arts documentaries for Channel 4’s international arts strand including Songs from the Golden City, a 52’ Documentary on South African Jazz.

Film, Documentary, Fiction / Drama, Archive and Music

Teaching

Department of Media Arts and Communication

Social Sciences and Arts

Subject Area

Media

Courses

I teach into the MA Film Making Course including a particular focus on directors working with actors.

MA Filmmaking: Project Development

Research

I am currently in development on a hybrid feature documentary, ‘Mae West: Boxer in a Corset’ with support from Screen Scotland, Getty Images, Autlook FilmSales, City University New York and the Art Design and Media Research Centre (SHU). The film explores Hollywood comedy star Mae West's personal empathy with Queer and African American Cultures in 1920s America, and celebrates why her little known, controversial and ground-breaking work as a playwright, inspires artists and audiences today.

Featured Projects

Collaborators and Sponsors

My research has attracted funding and/or support from Screen Scotland; BFI (British Film Institute); BBC; Scottish Film Talent Network; Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA); EU Screen; City University New York (CUNY); Getty images; National Library of Scotland Moving image Archive; plus distribution of my films via Park Circus Sales and Distribution and Shorts International.

Publications

Key Publications

Heath, V. (2014). From Scotland With Love - feature length poetic documentary film. [Video]. BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b047lx52

Heath, V. (2016). We Are All Migrants - 20 mins film. [Digital Video]. Imag(in)ing Europe Conference - Project funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area): https://asymenc.wp.hum.uu.nl/imagining-europe-definitive-conference-program/

Heath, V. (2018). Lift Share. [Film]. Edinburgh International Film Festival

Heath, V., & Atkinson, P. (2019). Three Chords and the Truth. [Video]. Munster Film Festival, Germany: https://vimeo.com/355136438

Media

Heath, V., & Atkinson, P. (2019). Cigar Box Blues - The Makers of a Revolution. [Streaming Video]. BBC Television: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000c7pf

Heath, V. (2012). 'Takeaway' Poetic Documentary Film. [Digital Video Documentary DVD]. Edinburgh International Film Festival

Heath, V. (2012). Glasgow Kiss -360 Narratives Project. [Video DVD and Online]. Playwright's Studio 360 Narratives Residency Screening: http://vimeo.com/42488599

Heath, V., Sprung, S., & Wright, R. (2009). My Dangerous Loverboy. [HD Digital Video]. United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre: http://vimeo.com/9155209

Heath, V. (2008). Little Lost David "Devil Don't Mind" - Music Documentary. [Screening at A list International Documentary Festival]. Sheffield International Documentary Festival: http://vimeo.com/9321299

Heath, V., & Sprung, S. (2004). Point Annihilation: 30 minute 35mm fiction film. [Film]. http://www3.shu.ac.uk/c3ri/SingleProject.cfm?Project_ID=125&ResCentre=ADRC

Heath, V. (n.d.). Relativity: short fiction film. [Film].

Other publications

Heath, V. (n.d.). Mystery Ride Feature Film. New Zealand Film Commission / Creative Scotland / Soda Pictures: http://www.virginiaheath.com/

Other activities

I am on the Editorial Board of Film Education Journal; External Examiner on the Documentary Directing and Animation courses at Edinburgh University (ECA); an active member of advocacy organisations, Film Producers Scotland and Women in Film and Television.

Postgraduate supervision

I am currently one of the supervisors of a PhD: "Collaborative reflexive documentary – filmmaking to explore representations of mental health in documentaries."

Media

Virginia Heath is a multi award winning writer and director with UK and New Zealand nationality. She recently directed the BAFTA Scotland nominated feature length archive and music documentary From Scotland With Love (75’). The film is being theatrically distributed by Park Circus Sales & Distribution Company and was originally screened with a live musical performance of the sound track at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Festival 2014 and the Barbican, London. It has screened at the Dublin International Film Festival, Buenos Aires IFF, New Zealand IFF, Edinburgh International Festival and Vancouver IFF amongst others. The film has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from the UK press and public alike – ‘Brilliantly evokes the flavour of 20th century Scotland’ - The Herald; ‘Hypnotic’ - The Independent; ‘Some kind of genius’ - The Guardian; ‘Spellbinding’, The Radio Times.

Virginia’s short film Relativity (10’) won ‘Best Short Film’ at the Berlin International Film Festival (2002) and was nominated for the European Film Academy Awards. She won a National Film Board of Canada Cross Media Challenge Award (2009) for the My Dangerous Loverboy Film and Cross Platform Project about the sex trafficking of teenagers. Her shorts Deep Freeze, Point Annihilation and Little Lost David were shown at international festivals including The Hamptons, New York, St Petersburg ‘Message to Man’, St Tropez, London, New Zealand & Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Virginia began her film career directing a series of international arts documentaries for the Channel 4 Television Series ‘Rear Window’ including Songs From The Golden City about exiled jazz legends The Manhattan Brothers returning to South Africa to seek justice. Her films have attracted funding from the BFI, SBS (Australia), SABC (South Africa), UK Film Council, National Film Board of Canada, Screen Yorkshire and Creative Scotland.

She currently has two psychological thriller feature films in advanced development; Mystery Ride with the New Zealand Film Commission, Creative Scotland and Trust Nordisk Sales; Bitter Little Twist with Creative Scotland and Filmgate, Sweden. Her body of work features a distinctive directorial style and strong cinematic vision to explore her signature themes: women, sex, power, love, betrayal, trust and desire.

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