NDA funded project wins award for Short Film 'Rufus Stone'

“Anyone of any age and background can sit and watch this film, understand it, learn from it and emotionally connect to it”.— Dr Patricia Leavy in The Qualitative Report

Rufus Stone lead actors: William Gaunt, Niall Buggy, Harry Kershaw and Tom Kane

Rufus Stone had its beginnings in a three-year project that took place as part of a New Dynamics of Ageing Programme project at Bournemouth University entitled, “Gay and Pleasant Land?—a study about positioning, ageing and gay life in rural South West England and Wales”. The project’s research team (Drs. Kip Jones, Lee-Ann Fenge, Rosie Read and Marilyn Cash) sought advice and input for more than four years from an Advisory Committee consisting of older gay and lesbian citizens and representatives of their key service providers.

Through an exploration of the recollections, perceptions and storied biographies of older lesbians and gay men and their rural experiences, the project focused on connectivity and the intersections between place, space, age and identity.

The research’s conclusions were that older gays and lesbians feel at high risk of isolation in rural areas constructed by sexuality, rurality and ageing—all components which need to be addressed and made more public.

Film was seen as providing a medium with potential to impact on communities and invite discussion around these sensitive issues. Screenings are seen as key to changing the ‘hearts and minds’ of many contemporaries of older gay and lesbian citizens, particularly in the often-conservative rural British countryside. This goal has been central to the three years of research and subsequent effort that went into producing the short film.

Parkville Pictures London produced Rufus Stone with Jones acting as Executive Producer. Josh Appignanesi, London-based filmmaker (The Infidel, 2010), was chosen to direct and write the shooting script for the film, particularly because of his previous work on Ex Memoria (2006), a study of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease funded by the Wellcome Trust. This unique collaboration between Appignanesi and Jones has been widely reported, including in The New York Times and Times Higher Education.

The film is totally grounded in the data gleaned from biographies, site visits, focus groups, panel analyses of data and theatrical interpretation in order to produce the narrative for the film. The Research Councils UK NDA grant and Bournemouth University covered the costs of producing the film. 

Inspired by the stories and testimonies uncovered, Dr Jones and his BU team then created ‘composite’ characters, giving the film its unique ‘fictional’ presentation of the research findings and the themes explored.

Rufus Stone is a film about love, sexual awakening and treachery, and stars popular stage and television actor William Gaunt in the title role. The film enjoyed a successful World Premiere at Bournemouth University in November 2011, then scooped two awards at the prestigious Rhode Island International Film Festival the following August. Upon receiving the awards Jones commented, “Winning at prestigious film festivals such as RIIFF is important in getting the film seen by a wide audience. This is the kind of impact that we imagined from the outset of the research project itself.”

Further impact and acclaim will greet the film as it is screened at festivals and conferences around the world. The team is also currently working to secure funding to screen Rufus Stone in more remote areas of rural Britain—a key goal of the project.

In reviewing the film, well-known author and academic, Dr. Patricia Leavy said, If research is intended to teach, illuminate, shed light on topics of import and challenge our assumptions, Rufus Stone is an exemplary piece of research”.

More background on the film and the research supporting it can be found on the Rufus Stone the movie blog.

Click here to view the trailer for the film- Trailer for the film

Contact: Dr Kip Jones, Project Lead kipworld@gmail.com


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