Private Project


Set against the backdrop of the GMERC primate research station in western Tanzania, "Clasp" is an exploration of the complex dynamics within the world of scientific research. It delves into the human stories behind scientific research. The film's title, "Clasp," refers to a complex social behaviour exhibited by certain primate species that encompasses both alliance formation and power relations, serving as a metaphor for the human relationships.

Through candid interviews and intimate observations of daily activities, "Clasp" sheds light on the intricate relationships among local and non-local researchers, field assistants, and the station's founder. The film juxtaposes the diverse perspectives of its subjects, weaving together and complexifying themes of local vs. global, first-world vs. third-world, and the power hierarchies influenced by education. "Clasp" invites viewers to reflect on the complexity of knowledge production and intercultural communication in a globalised and postcolonial world, raising awareness of the varied experiences of those occupying different niches in the world of scientific research.

  • Zhitong Li
  • Phoebe (Yuan) Chen
  • Zhitong Li
  • Phoebe (Yuan) Chen
  • Alex
    Key Cast
  • Shedrack
    Key Cast
  • Rama
    Key Cast
  • Sophia
    Key Cast
  • Ivorda
    Key Cast
  • Juma
    Key Cast
  • Hussein
    Key Cast
  • Phoebe
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    37 minutes 18 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 4, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    1,500 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    Tanzania, United Republic of
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - UCL
Director Biography - Zhitong Li, Phoebe (Yuan) Chen

Zhitong Li is a Beijing-born multidisciplinary artist and researcher, currently studying anthropology at UCL. Drawing from his anthropological background and personal experiences, Zhitong's work delves into themes including intersectional identities, queer perspectives, power dynamics, diaspora, multisensory experiences, and nature-culture dualism. His creative portfolio spans non-fiction filmmaking, photography, and writing, reflecting a diverse and insightful exploration of the human experience.

Phoebe (Yuan) Chen is a comparative literature student at UCL, currently on exchange at Humboldt University of Berlin. Her research interests concentrate on intermediality and cosmopolitanism. Over the course of undergraduate studies, she has actively explored the overlaps and boundaries between different disciplines, including languages, literature, anthropology, philosophy, musicology and so on. She has conducted research projects in Tanzania, the UK (London), Sweden (Stockholm) and Germany (Berlin), trying to use word, image and sound to deliver observations and critical views developed from her diverse study experiences.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

We are happy to present our film Clasp, a film exploring the complexity of the human part behind seemingly hard science. "Clasp" refers to the way in which we (humans and/or animals) socially engaged with each other. To demonstrate this, we blend narratives on animals and human, implying an "synesthetic" relationship. As Chinese transnational students, we, as filmmakers as well as student researchers, conciously engage with our subjectiveness and bring a unique lens to the story, adding depth and nuance to the narrative. As to visual-audio language, we use unusual footage captured by trap cameras and attachable sports cameras, and the soundscape of the forest and walking (it's really a big thing on a daily basis so we feature it throughout the film), trying to immerse the audience in a variety of ways by creating different sensory experiences.

Last but not least, hope you enjoy our film! (Someone fell into the water because of it, twice lol)