Imperial College London

Energy Futures Lab documentary wins award at BAFTA


Chris Emmott, Christoph Mazur, Sophie Smith and Dr Ned Ekins-Daukes

A film funded by Energy Futures Doctoral Network beat 16 other entries to win a highly commended award for highlighting the energy landscape in Nepal.

Powering the top of the world: empowering communities has won a Highly Commended award in the TVE Global Sustainability film awards' Community Investment category, held at the headquarters of BAFTA in London. The documentary was created by two PhD students from Imperial College London, Chris Emmott and Christoph Mazur with funding from Energy Futures Lab.

The documentary was filmed over two weeks following an international energy conference in Nepal. Chris and Christoph used the funding to travel around the country interviewing officials and locals to highlight the issues and needs of this unique country that has so much potential for energy generation. 

Nepal has vast clean energy resources, but has had limited success in harnessing them to meet its growing needs. So when Chris and Christoph learned of a major international conference in the country they thought it was a great opportunity. “It’s not every day you get a chance to visit places like Nepal,” explains Chris “so when Christoph and I were accepted to the conference we wanted to make the most of the opportunity and I’ve always had an interest in filmmaking.”

With the budding filmmakers working in two different departments, Chris in Physics and Christoph in Earth Science & Engineering, it looked like funding could be a major stumbling block. “We knew departmental funding might not send us halfway across the world to attend a conference and film a documentary,” says Christoph “but we thought that this was exactly the kind of thing the Energy Futures Doctoral Network does support.”

So after successfully applying for support from the Doctoral Network the two jetted off to the IEEE International Conference on Sustainable Energy Technologies in Kathmandu and afterwards hired a jeep, heading off into the Nepalese countryside, traveling hundreds of kilometres, talking to dozens of people and filming almost forty hours of footage.

The Energy Futures Doctoral Network (Energy Futures CDT) organises activities and provides funding for Imperial students to take on projects that are beyond the traditional scope of a PhD. “When they first approached us it was clearly a great idea,” says Sophie Smith, Energy Futures Lab’s Doctoral Network and Alumni Manager “but I don’t think we realised how good the film would be or how much impact it would have – I am so pleased that it is reaching so many people.  The film itself is a great achievement but for it to have been acknowledged in this way is testament to the hard work put in by Chris and Christoph.”

“It was an amazing experience, we’re both very proud of the film but getting recognition from the TVE Global Sustainability film awards is the icing on the cake.” says Chris. “We had never filmed or cut a documentary before.” adds Christoph “But thankfully, Energy Futures Lab provided us with the right support and training to create something that could stand out amongst submission from major companies.” 

The awards were held at the home of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) in central London. They will be broadcast in the near future on Sky television in the UK, across Europe and in China alongside all the nominated films.

The winning entry can be seen on YouTube and the full 40 minute version of Powering the top of the world: empowering communities is also online.

There are more details about the Global Sustainability film awards and the other films nominated on their website.


Neasan O'Neill

Neasan O'Neill
Faculty of Engineering

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