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University Research to Award Winning Films

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Five short films tackling hard hitting issues – from the climate crisis to the representation of
autism – have been announced as the winners of the 2021 Research in Film Awards.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has today announced the winners of the 2021
AHRC Research in Film Awards (RIFA). This year’s winning films include a vision of a greener
future for UK farming; an investigation into the ethical issues associated with the representation of
autism in film; and a haunting and inspirational documentary created by children born of war rape in
Northern Uganda.

RIFA recognises original short films that translate ground-breaking arts and humanities research into
visually impactful stories. The films recognised at the Research in Film Awards are unique in that
they draw directly from active research, much of which has never been communicated to the general

The 2021 RIFA Best Research Film of the Year, The Art of Peace Medellín by Birte Vogel provides
new insights for example into how marginalised youth in the city of Medellín, Colombia, have
responded to ongoing conflict through arts, such as dance, rap and poetry, to create alternatives to

In the year of COP26, a film about putting nature at the heart of farming, Newland: New Vision for a
Wilder Future, has won the Best Climate Emergency Film of the Year. Told through a series of
conversations between father and son farmers, this powerful and meditative film captures why rebalancing the way that we farm to be in harmony with the natural world matters for a healthy planet.

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Director of the Arts and Humanities Research
Council said:  

“For research to inspire people to make meaningful changes to their lives, it must be
communicated in a way that resonates on an emotional level. One of the things we learned at
COP26 was that data and policy can only achieve so much and that storytelling is essential to
engage people with vital issues such as climate change. The filmmakers recognised at RIFA2021
are doing exactly this and ensuring that important research has real impact.”

Now in its seventh year, RIFA has established itself as a significant moment in the film calendar
having been one of the first awards to recognise an array of internationally recognised films such as
the BAFTA-winning Missed Call and MICGénero award-winning KANRAXËL: The Confluence of
Agnack. This year’s films continue this tradition of taking powerful artistic insights on timely issues to
a wide audience.

Shaminder Nahal, Commissioning Editor at Channel 4 said of the awards:

“The work showcased at RIFA is exciting because it is precisely about stories and how to tell them – but stories
that have a real truth about them, a backbone of research and detail – which in this complex world
we are living in – feels more important than ever.”

Each category is judged by a prestigious panel of fifteen academics, film industry experts and sector
leaders carefully chosen for their unique expertise. This year’s jurors included :

  • Broadcaster and historian Dan Snow
  • Director of V&A East and former Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (Washington, DC) Dr Gus Casely-Hayford
  • Former leader of the Green Party, Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

This year’s ceremony will be hosted by broadcaster Dr Janina Ramirez and the presenting panel will

  • Julian Hector, Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit
  • Jessica Loveland, Head of New Writing at the BBC
  • Dr Tina Gharavi, BAFTA & Sundance-nominated director
  • Monisha Shah, Chair of Wikimedia UK and Senior Independent Member, AHRC

Shortlisted films from the Best Climate Emergency Film of the Year category, from 2020 and 2021,
will be part of a new AHRC 2022 Public Engagement Festival that will run across the UK in the
spring of next year.

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