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Research in Film Awards 2016: The Inspiration Award


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:

What is the INSPIRATION Award?

This category was open to the wider non-academic public and is all about films produced in the UK which have been inspired by arts and humanities research – this could mean films that were inspired by a museum exhibition, book, play or performance. The filmmaker may have been inspired by research such as an archaeological dig, or a festival such as Cheltenham Festivals, or the Being Human Festival of the Humanities. Entrants came from individuals, and from community groups, who have been inspired by arts and humanities research.

Judges were looking for films which have been inspired by arts and humanities research and that show creative – either factual or fictional – representations in film of that engagement.

Judges of this category were:

  • Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of the Financial Times and Chair of the Judging panel
  • Professor Lucy Mazdon, University of Southampton

Last years winner

The winner of last year’s Inspiration Award was This Island's mine" by Myriam Rey.

“Shakespeare’s plays can be defined as a poetic exploration of human communication.” This short film examines the ‘The Hunter Heartbeat Method’ developed by Kelly Hunter which uses Shakespeare to release the communicative blocks within children with autism. The filming took place only twice during two 40 minutes long sessions with the children. The film aims to tell the story of these children in that particular space at that specific moment of time.

Judges said this film was “a straightforward but powerful account of work with a very challenging group of young people”; “a powerful film expressing the value of this particular arts therapy project. It highlights the power of art to break down barriers between people who communicate differently.”

The 2016 Research in Film Awards Inspiration shortlist

Lunch with Family

Romana Turina

A British veteran of the Italian campaign of 1945 enquires about a name, Vlado Turina. ‘Lunch with Family’ follows the journey to discover if Turina was a spy or a freedom fighter, an Italian or a Slovenian. It takes the researcher from the public to the private sphere and changes her sense of identity forever.

Judges thought this film was ‘visually and thematically engaging’ and called it ‘strong’.

After Auschwitz

Paul Blinkhorn

As she sets about preparing the Sabbath table Rebeka reflects on the paths not taken, of loves lost and the moral obligations of being a survivor. ‘After Auschwitz’ is a short film about survival, truth and reflection. It explores one woman’s struggle to escape the shadows of the past and to contend with the choices that she has made in life.

Judges described this film as, ‘a moving intervention into questions of memory’.

The Ballad of Johnny Walford

Nathan Hughes

Commissioned as part of the ‘Being Human: Festival of the Humanities’, ‘The Ballad of Johnny Walford’ distils the essence of a collaborative and interdisciplinary site-specific performance about the execution and gibbeting (exhibiting felon’s bodies in iron cages at the scene of their crimes) of John Walford, for the murder of his wife Jane, in 1789.

‘Very powerful and highly imaginative’ said Judges, as well as, ‘brave and unsparing.’

Poverty: Our Hidden Shame


Moya Crowley, Plantation Productions (charity)

Create Crew are a group of 13 - 18 years olds, who made a documentary about the impact of austerity on young people and how it affects their opportunities and aspirations. ‘Poverty: Our hidden shame?’ explores and challenges the impacts of poverty in the community. Taking a participatory action research approach, the young people investigated issues they feel passionately about. The film includes interviews with a diverse range of contributors and young people to ensure they gained a balanced view.

Judges commented that the film was ‘worthy and engaging’.

AWA: Zimbabwe's Rap Queen

Max Thurlow

‘AWA: Zimbabwe’s Rap Queen’ tells the story of up-and-coming starlet AWA preparing to perform at her country’s biggest hip hop festival Shoko, in the capital Harare. Despite coming from one of the poorest ghettos in Zimbabwe and faced with numerous personal and professional problems, is AWA’s innate positivity and charisma enough to help her succeed?

Judges said this film was ‘engrossing and enjoyable’ and commented it was ‘stylish and imaginative.’

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