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Research in Film Awards 2016: Best Research Film of the Year


The AHRC’s Research in Film Awards aim to find new and emerging talent that straddle the worlds of both film-making and arts and humanities research.

Hundreds of films were submitted for the Awards this year and the overall winner for each category, who will receive £2,000 towards their film-making, will be announced at an awards ceremony at BAFTA in London on the 10 November.

Films that have made the shortlist cover a wide range of themes including landscape and environmental change to capital punishment, people trafficking, and poverty. All of the films are rooted in arts and humanities research and use poetry, art and drama to explore these issues.

We are taking a detailed look at the shortlist in each category, follow the links to find out more:


This category is for all films produced as outputs of arts and humanities research in the UK and was open to all those eligible for AHRC funding. All films must have been completed or made available during the last year (since April 1st 2015).

Judges looked for films which bring new research to wider attention, which exemplify excellence and which bring arts and humanities research to new audiences. They looked for films which highlighted the value and importance of research in the arts and humanities.

Judges of this category were:

  • Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of the Financial Times and Chair of the Judging panel
  • Danny Leigh, Writer and Broadcaster
  • Professor Tom Inns, Glasgow School of Art
  • And Joanna Callaghan, University of Sussex*

Judges commented that the standard in this category was incredibly and finding an overall winner was difficult because all the shortlisted films are excellent.

Last years winner

The winner of last year’s Inspiration Award was KANRAXËL: The Confluence of Agnack by Anna Sowa, SOAS/Chouette Films, University of London.

KANRAXËL represents a unique cultural and creative resource, conveying aspects of diversity and multilingualism in Africa. It paints a portrait of diversity and multilingualism as a daily, hourly linguistic practice, drawing the audience in by telling the story of the village of Agnack Grand preparing for an unforgettable event.

Judges said it was “a beautifully filmed and scripted film,” as well as “a highly sophisticated film, beautifully shot, cut, and recorded, which conveys the nature of multilingual life in the village very effectively indeed.”

The 2016 Research in Film Awards Best Research Film of the Year shortlist

You Can't Move History

Pollyanna Ruiz, University of Sussex

‘You Can’t Move History’ was inspired by Long Live South Bank’s successful campaign to save the skate spot beneath the Southbank Centre. It was produced as part of an academic research project which drew upon the experiences of skaters to better understand how young people felt about the urban spaces they occupied. The project also explored the ways in which the skate community articulated those feelings to the wider public. The longstanding connection between skating and filming enabled this collaborative project to produce a film which takes the non-skating viewer to the heart of the Undercroft experience.

‘An innovative, clever journey through heritage, youth perspective and architecture’ said one of the judges.

People Like Us


Tina Gharavi, Newcastle University

‘People Like Us’ sees academic and Sundance and BAFTA-nominated film-maker, Tina Gharavi working with RAE (Resurrection After Exoneration), a charity based in the US battling to release those condemned to death in the US, where scientific evidence can contradict the verdict. The film weaves together the emotional experience of those who have been released as they come to terms with what has happened in their lives.

The judges called this, ‘a powerful and resonant piece’.

Anatomy of a Murder - Sirhan Sirhan and Robert Kennedy

Shane O’Sullivan, Kingston University

‘Anatomy of a Murderer - Sirhan Sirhan and Robert Kennedy’ sheds light on the story of Sirhan Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Bobby Kennedy. Sirhan has never been able to remember the shooting, and defence psychiatrists concluded that he was in a hypnotic state at the time, a real-life Manchurian Candidate. This video essay flows from the crime of the accused and his foggy recollection; to his legal defence, the conspiracy theory and his parole hearing. The film looks at amnesia induced by trauma or coercion, its status as evidence and the writing of political memory in fiction and non-fiction film.

The judges said the film was ‘a fascinating glimpse of a historically vital moment’, and called it ‘very impressive’.

The Crossing


Shreepali Patel, Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University

‘The Crossing’ is an intense exploration of the black market economy and the destructive consequences of human trafficking through a heightened audio-visual experience, at the heart of which is the story of a young trafficked girl. The exhibition sits within an increasingly complex climate of hardening public opinion, moral self-questioning and a 150 billion dollar world trade in people. This installation takes, as its starting point, the concept of ‘hope’ and examines its gradual unfurling reality into an exploitation of trust to perpetuate a violent, organised industry.

‘Ambitious and deftly executed’ said the judges, who also commented that it ‘pushes the boundaries of film and communication.’


Sara Penrhyn Jones, Bath Spa University

‘TIMELINE’ offers a personal perspective on climate change in which researcher and film-maker, Sara Penrhyn Jones, crafts a narrative from her own footage, recorded over seven years of activism. It starts at the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, journeys through Greenland’s melting landscapes with scientists, then to the low-lying island nation in the South Pacific, Kiribati, facing the whole-scale displacement of their entire population because of rising sea levels. Sara’s hometown of Aberystwyth in Wales is hit by storms of an unprecedented scale. There is a broken telescope on the promenade, and a dead sheep on the beach, but the community rallies, with buckets and spades.

‘Beautifully and frighteningly filmed’ said the judges

*Please note, Judge Joanna Callaghan, University of Sussex did not watch of judge the film, ‘YOU CAN’T MOVE HISTORY’ due to a conflict of interest

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