Voices of BREXIT documentary released

More than two years have passed since the EU referendum took place, and the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union by the end of March 2019.

In the time since the referendum took place, a documentary has been created by two staff members at the University of Nottingham to capture the feelings and perceptions of staff and students at the University about the socio-political elements of Brexit.

Todd Landman, Pro Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Social Science, has produced the Voices of BREXIT film with Everdien Wood, a videographer from the University’s Libraries, Research and Learning Resources (LRLR).

Introducing the documentary, Professor Landman said:

“As the UK and the rest of the world await the final deal (or no deal) for BREXIT, there have been endless debates, points, counterpoints, and arguments about the need for a second referendum, the costs and benefits of different options, and the uncertainties that await us come March 2019.

In the Faculty of Social Science, there are views on all sides of these issues and there are dedicated research projects focussed on different aspects of BREXIT. For example, Professor Paul Mizen in the School of Economics is leading an ESRC-funded project that surveys thousands of businesses on a monthly basis to gauge their perceptions of BREXIT as the negotiations unfold, the results from which are taken into account by the Bank of England and which have featured in the Financial Times. Professor David Paton in the Nottingham University Business School writes passionately in defence of BREXIT and the free trade opportunities that await the UK in 2019 and beyond. Professor Katharine Adeney from the School of Politics and International Relations and Director of the Asia Research Institute hosted a high-level panel in London on power shifts in Asia post-BREXIT. Others are working on the sociology and law of BREXIT.

Alongside these more formal and academic approaches to studying BREXIT, I had the opportunity to work with Everdien Wood, a videographer from the University’s Libraries, Research and Learning Resources (LRLR) to capture the feelings and perceptions of staff and students at the University about the socio-political elements of BREXIT. Eve is Dutch and I am Dutch-American, and we have been both been living in the UK for 20 years. Eve has made a variety of documentary films and wanted to make a film on campus about BREXIT, primarily motivated by her wish to learn more about the issues and to try to understand what underpinned the voting patterns. I have worked on a variety of EU projects and training programmes on democracy and human rights since 2000, and have been speaking and writing on race, speech, and framing around BREXIT. I was keen to hear from members of the Nottingham community about BREXIT two years on.

We approached a number of colleagues and students over the summer and captured hours of video footage covering a wide range of different factors surrounding the vote to leave the EU. We spoke to supporters of BREXIT and ‘remainers’, all of whom shared their deep reflections on the causes, framing, discourses, meanings, and implications of BREXIT. We also captured many of these factors with respect to Nottingham and the surrounding area. We walked the streets of Nottingham with students, reflected on how we thought Robin Hood would have voted (we agreed he would have voted out of the EU), and we filmed across campus to get a sense of how BREXIT is viewed locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

We call the film Voices of BREXIT (not Voices for BREXIT), where we feel that we have captured a range of different views and perspectives. We wanted to capture different perspectives with a film that did not pit one view against another in an open debate. Rather, we sought to capture the raw footage and craft the film around a set of dominant themes that cut across the different interviews. It was a tremendous learning experience for both us, where the pragmatism of the student voice was a particular highlight.

The film covers questions of freedom, democracy, human rights, economic hardship, social disruption, identity politics, social care, the importance of history, inter-generational politics, information, and the paucity of high quality evidence on both sides of the issue. We were both very impressed with the passion, reflection, and nuance offered from all of those with whom we spoke. We are delighted to share the film with the Nottingham community.”

The film can be viewed on YouTube and you can find out more about the project by visiting the Facebook page.

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