Author, scriptwriter and scholar Jan Nåls is passionate about combining academic research with creative practice. His main research interests revolve around storytelling and the functions of empathy across different media platforms. He is curious how empathy and stories work in various societal settings and intercultural spaces. As he puts it: "I want to share my love for storytelling and explore how to create emotional connections between distant others."
Nåls has been active in teaching and researching intercultural communication for the past decade. His master thesis dealt with representing foreign cultures in documentary filmmaking and his PhD from the University of Helsinki in 2019 examined the functions of empathy in intercultural visual narrative. He is currently a Principal Lecturer in Film and Media at Arcada in Helsinki, Finland, with his main focus being scriptwriting and directing, both in fiction and documentary film. He also works as a scriptwriter for film and theatre in Finland. In his creative practice he explores themes of displacement, identity and power. Creative communities form a particular interest. A theoretical understanding of communication and cognition coupled with a practical skillset for storytelling create the groundwork for his expertise.
Nåls was the administrative coordinator in 2006-2016 for a North South South exchange programme between Higher Education Institutions in South Africa, Ghana and Finland, named “Training producers for ecological broadcasting”. The programme involved around 200 students and staff from Africa and Finland. Nåls has published extensively in academic journals relating to communication, film, and film education. He is also a published author of several factual books on varied topics such as sports betting and modern theatre.
Nåls, J. (2016). Drawing the Unspeakable-Understanding ’the other’ through narrative empathy in animated documentary.The International Journal of Film and Media Arts. Vol 1, No 1.
Nåls J. & Hyde-Clarke N. (2017). Lost and Found: Making Sense of Foreign Spaces and the Self with Public Transport. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research.
Nåls, J. (2018). The Difficulty of Eliciting Empathy in Documentary in Brylla C. and Kramer M. (Eds) Documentary and Cognitive Theory. Palgrave.
Nåls J. (2017). The Changing Cinema Spaces of Accra – Fragmented Spectatorship and the Loss of Empathy. Journal of African Cinemas. Volume 9, vol. 2-3, pp. 189-202.
Nåls J. (2018). Documentary Subjects Talk Back – Relational Empathy and Ethics in Intercultural Documentary Film Education. Film Education Journal 1.2.
Nåls J. (2019). Making the strange familiar: The functions of empathy in intercultural film narrative. University of Helsinki.
Viirusboken. (2007). Söderströms förlag.
Skenographia. (2015). Schildts&Söderströms.
Gränsfall: Algoth Niska. (2014). SFV.
Author and project manager for text books Spelhandboken (2000) and Urheiluvedonlyönti (1999) ESBC (Together with Antti Kuronen and Jorma Vuoksenmaa and Pelaajalta pelaajille (2016).
Skärisboken. (2019). Skärgårdsteaterns väl r.f.
Vägsjälar. (1998). Tv-series in 8 parts Produced by FST/Fiktionen. Dir.:Titte Törnroth. Together with Marina Meinander.
Sommartider. (1999). Short Film. Produced by Claes Olsson/Kinoproduction. Dir. Klaus Härö.
Nordpoolen. (2006). A childrens play. Produced by Labbet
Donkey Hot Show. (2007). A play produced by Svenska Teatern (with with Paula Rehn-Sirén).
Dance on thin ice. (2017). Fiction film. Dir.: PV Lehtinen. Cineparadiso & YLE.
Script consultant for Badrumsliv. (2019). Drama series. Dir.: Kaya Pakaslahti. Moilo.