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Film addressing institutional racism nominated for industry leading award

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A film addressing institutional racism within higher education which was written, directed and produced by an academic at Leeds Trinity University, has been shortlisted at the Learning on Screen Awards.

Re:Tension, a short film by Senior Lecturer in Film Production and professional documentary maker Ricardo Barker, has been nominated for Best Educational Film at the Learning on Screen Awards. Established in 2005, the Learning on Screen Awards celebrate the brightest talent in educational film and television across the country.

The film follows Thapelo, a 19-year-old student, as he wrestles with the idea of whether or not to report racism at his university. Re:Tension explores the reality of how racism, micro-aggressions and unconscious bias can function in academic institutions.

Following the film’s production, Ricardo developed an educational toolkit alongside Syra Shakir, Senior Teaching Fellow at Leeds Trinity University and Co-Chair of the University’s BAME network. The toolkit aims to facilitate open discussion among students and academics following the film and is available for all universities to use as a resource for their students.

UK institutions engaging with the toolkit so far include the University of Salford, Falmouth University, University College London, Norwich University of the Arts and Durham University. 

Ricardo said: “I am so pleased that Re:Tension has been nominated for a Learning on Screen Award, as it not only recognises the issues raised within the film but also recognises the energy and talents of our local actors and our University students. The fact that the film continues to be received extremely well pays testament to their hard work and commitment.”

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Ricardo has also recently joined academics across the UK as a member of FACE – an organisation which works within higher education, further education and the fashion industry to challenge racial inequality and action change across institutional and cultural platforms.

He said: “I have recently joined FACE; a collective of arts and fashion academics who are committed to addressing race inequality in higher education institutions. Their continued campaigns and active engagements are well-focused on supporting all Black and Brown university staff and students.”

Professor Malcolm Todd, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said: “Leeds Trinity is committed to promoting inclusion and we recognise the importance of BAME role models in higher education. Re:Tension highlights the issues faced by BAME students and Ricardo’s work has played a fundamental role in driving change not only at Leeds Trinity, but other institutions across the UK. The film is an excellent resource for encouraging conversations on race equality, embedding practices in learning and teaching, and eliminating the attainment gap for BAME students.

“We are very proud of Ricardo – this shortlisting is fully deserved, and we wish him all the best at the Learning on Screen Awards.”

In November 2020, Leeds Trinity became the first university in Yorkshire to receive the Race Equality Charter Bronze award, in recognition of its commitment to achieve racial equality and promote inclusion.

The University is now focusing on implementing racial equality at all levels, which includes eliminating the attainment gap for BAME students, increasing the number of BAME academic staff and supporting their progression to senior roles.

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