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Introduction to the Research in Film Awards from Andrew Thompson

Welcome to the Research in Film Awards (RIFA) 2020.

RIFA celebrates the best in academic filmmaking. Since 2015, it’s inspired researchers from all over the UK to think more deeply about how they share their work with the wider world.

Film has an ability to make distant people, places and ideas immediately, visually accessible. In the strange times we are living in, film – and connecting people and places through visual media – is more important than ever. In truth for many of us around the world whole countries, cultures and communities are often inaccessible to us, but the coronavirus lockdown has placed everyone at a distance. I hope that the five years of RIFA have led to many more films being available, shared and discussed among with wider community, and I’m very excited to see what films are entered this year.

For 2020, we are inviting submissions for a new ‘Best Animated Film’ category, recognising the fantastic work in animation that takes place in arts and humanities research. I’m also very pleased to announce that our rotating ‘special’ category for 2020 will be the ‘Best Climate Emergency Film’. Along with the returning ‘Inspiration Award’, this special category is open to the public, not just researchers.

The United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow was originally scheduled to take place in November at the same time as the RIFA awards ceremony – bringing the eyes of the whole world on the UK as answers are sought for the climate crisis – and though the conference has now been delayed to 2021, the issues and debate remains of critical importance right now. I hope that entries in the ‘Best Climate Emergency Film’ category will explore the ways that the arts and humanities help us understand climate change, and adapt and be resilient in the face of it.

Winning a Research in Film Award is a significant accolade in itself, but it can often lead to great other things. Previous RIFA winners have gone on to win BAFTAs and other awards, been screened at film festivals, or gone on to secure funding and further achievements. RIFA is often just the beginning – much like the research that RIFA seeks to explore..

Andrew Thompson
Executive Chair, Arts and Humanities Research Council