10 October 2020

A film created by a University of East London (UEL) lecturer has been shortlisted for the Best Animated Film of the Year category of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research in Film Awards 2020.

Pooja Pottenkulam created the animated film 'What Will You Do Now, John?', which tells the story of John, whose wife has left him. The film explores themes of individualism and social isolation, and also investigates the applications of Brechtian Alienation Theory in animation.


This film is based on part of my experience of living in the UK, which is very different to my life in India.

"The UK affords people a lot of space to express themselves and to live independent lives. However, one of the downsides of this can be social isolation. I wanted to document this through a fictional film. I hope that the film prompts audiences to relate it to their own personal experiences or observations of similar situations,"

Pooja Pottenkulam, UEL lecturer in animation and film maker, said.

With a career background in animation filmmaking and children's illustration, Ms Pottenkulam spent over three years and created over 8,000 drawings to make the film. Ms Pottenkulam has taught animation at the University of East London for four and a half years, using her professional skills to support the student experience.

Professor Verity Brown, pro vice-chancellor (impact and innovation), said, "One of the purposes the University of East London serves is to bring attention to real social issues which affect people. 'What Will You Do Now, John?' highlights exactly that by depicting a man coming to terms with his new lifestyle now his wife has left him.

"At the University, we teach our students to think critically and use their skills to question and evaluate societal issues. I am proud this film has received this well-deserved recognition."

A full list of the finalists can be viewed on the AHRC website. Ms Pottenkulam's submission will go against finalists from Loughborough University, University of Northumbria, University of Hull and University of Oxford. The winner of the 2020 Research in Film Awards will be announced at an online ceremony on 11 November.

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