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Michael O’Pray Prize


Project Overview

This award for new writing on innovation and experimentation in the moving image is named in memory of the critic, historian and film programmer, Michael O’Pray. Over the course of his long and varied career, Mike was an impassioned and energetic champion of avant-garde cinema, highlighting the continuing influence of key figures from the past, while dynamically promoting contemporary talents in experimental film and video. In his writings, and in the many programmes he curated for Film and Video Umbrella and elsewhere, Mike always endeavoured to make radical, challenging, occasionally esoteric work accessible to a wider public – and it is with this in mind that the award seeks to encourage examples of imaginative, engaging writing that extols and advances this longstanding tradition of experimentation in film and video for a non-specialist audience.

The Prize:

The recipient of the Michael O’Pray Prize will receive £500 and their submitted text will be published by Art Monthly.

Application Criteria:

The Prize is aimed at writers starting out in their careers, and who have had no more than three articles published in print or online. There is no age limit. Applicants have to be resident in the UK. We are not looking for academic dissertations, or specialist scholarly papers, couched in highly technical/theoretical language. We are interested in discovering and supporting new voices who can enliven and popularise discussion of the experimental spirit in film and video. Texts submitted should be no longer than 2,500 words, and should not have been previously published, in part or in whole. Texts submitted should be complete articles, rather than extracts, and should be print ready.

Please submit your text, accompanied by your CV (CV should be no more than two sides of A4, at no smaller than font size 11pt) to Polly Wright:

More information here.


The Panel:

Applicants will be considered by an expert panel, including:

Steven Bode, Director, FVU
Chris McCormack, Editor, Art Monthly
Lucy Reynolds, Artist, Curator, Researcher and Senior Lecturer at University of Westminster
John Smith, Artist, Filmmaker and Professor of Fine Art at University of East London
The guiding presence behind Film and Video Umbrella in its early years (1985-1990), Michael O’Pray taught at UEL for over two decades, and was a regular contributor to the pages of Art Monthly.


Image: Autograph, Smith/Stewart, 1997. Courtesy of the artists.