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2019 Winners

From the complex reasons for migration and the legacies of colonialism, to new life, communities and the defiance and energy of contemporary Haitian art world. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) are very pleased to announce the five winners of this year's Research in Film Awards 2019, from a superb selection of entrants.

Now in their fifth year, the awards are the only awards dedicated to showcasing arts and humanities research through film. AHRC has received over 800 entries over those five years, with films entered from over 80 universities across the UK. The evocative short films - all under 30 minutes – are thought-provoking reflections on our time which include drama, documentary and animation.

Arts and Humanities Research Council Executive Chair, Andrew Thompson, said: “These awards are an exciting opportunity to showcase the breadth of talent within the arts and humanities. Film has an ability to make distant people, places and ideas immediately, visually accessible. Thanks to everyone that took the time to submit an entry this year and congratulations to the five worthy winners.”

The five winners were selected from over a hundred submissions in the different categories and received a trophy as well as £2,000 towards future filmmaking projects.

Best Research Film of the Year
FACES | VOICES - Paul Basu, SOAS University of London

FACES | VOICES is an experimental film created as part of Museum Affordances/ [Re:]Entanglements, an AHRC-funded research project exploring the remarkable ethnographic archive assembled by the colonial anthropologist Northcote Thomas in West Africa between 1909 and 1915. The archive is full of photographs of men, women and children. But what were they thinking as they were being photographed? FACES | VOICES invited people to reflect on the pictures. But while some see coercion, others see boredom, optimism or even resilience, and their diverse responses reveal something of the complexity and ambiguity of the colonial legacy.

Best Doctoral or Early Career Film 
Intranquilities: Voices from Haiti - Edward Owles, University of Leeds

Intranquilities explores the defiance and energy of the contemporary Haitian art world. A polyphonic exploration of creativity and representation, it sets the work of various Haitian artists in the context of ‘postcolonial disasters’ such as the 2010 earthquake. The featured artists include writers, painters, photographers and performers, all united by a desire to use their creative practice to reframe how the country’s history and culture are perceived and understood. The film is inspired by the work of the late academic Dr. Anthony Carrigan and was initially funded through his AHRC Leadership Fellowship, entitled Representing Postcolonial Disaster: Conflict, Consumption, Reconstruction (2013).

Mental Health and Wellbeing Award (public category)
The Golden Window - Shreepali Patel StoryLab, Anglia Ruskin University

The Golden Window explores the unconscious and conscious journey experienced by new-born babies undergoing therapeutic cooling following traumatic asphyxia. The film considers the neural basis of human consciousness and investigates how to engage an audience with complex scientific and emotional themes through the creation of a framework and language using the audio-visual representation of this state of stasis. In making The Golden Window filmmakers forged new links between the arts and healthcare by exploring the use of immersive storytelling and multi-platform digital space to encourage reflective practice and wider public engagement.

Best Social Media Short
Life on the Move - Migration Leadership Team, SOAS University of London

Through stop-motion animation, Life on the Move explores the complex reasons behind migration. It features 3D printed scans of real people and explains their divergent reasons for crossing borders. The film explores how researchers can collaborate with artists in innovative ways to generate new kinds of knowledge and engage wider audiences in debates about complex social and economic issues. It showcases the research themes and creative partnerships emerging from the London International Development Centre Migration Leadership Team, an AHRC/ESRC funded initiative aimed at developing a new strategy for migration research.

Inspiration Award (public category) 
Spirit - Ross Harrison and Dr Jane Dyson

Spirit explores what it takes to feel at home in a remote Himalayan village. The film tells two interwoven stories. The first follows Saraswati, who married into the village 20 years ago as the first educated daughter-in-law to join her new family and wondered how she would ever belong. A parallel story explores the entire village as it pours time and energy into the Pandav Lila festival, a ten-day re-enactment of stories from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. Spirit reveals how belonging cannot be assumed, but is the slow alchemy of work, friendship, love, loss and belief. It tracks the contours of individual lives and is tested by the rapid social and economic change that is transforming rural areas.

The evening was hosted by writer and broadcaster, Danny Leigh. Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of the Financial Times, chaired the judging panel which included Chairman of ITV, Sir Peter Bazalgette, award-winning filmmaker, Kim Longinotto, and Steve Harding-HiIl, Creative Director in Commercials and Short-form at Aardman Animations to name a few.

Link to all winning films.

Link to all shortlisted films.

The evening was hosted by writer and broadcaster, Danny Leigh. Among the award presenters were Executive Director of FilmBath, Holly Tarquini, award-winning filmmaker Victoria Mapplebeck, TV presenter Fatima Manji, New Generation Thinker Iain Robert Smith and Ayesha Taylor-Camara PhD student at the University of Nottingham.

Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of the Financial Times, chaired the judging panel which included Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director, Royal Shakespeare Company, Kim Longinotto, Award-Winning documentary film maker and Steve Harding-HiIl, Creative Director in Commercials and Short-form at Aardman Animations to name a few.

Find out more information about the 2019 Research in Film Awards:

Twitter: Follow the conversation with #RIFA2019

You can also watch the winning films on our RIFA 2019 winners playlist.