Prestigious awards shed new light on research into our past and present: from the impact of technology on modern families to a forgotten chapter of British history

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Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) announces winners of AHRC Research in Film Awards 2018
A teenage boy who tries to trace his father using an iPhone X, the greatest mining disaster of the 19th century is uncovered and one of the world’s oldest refugee communities tell their story. These are just some of the subjects of the five winners of the 2018 AHRC Research in Film Awards, which took place at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly, London yesterday (Thursday, 8 November).

Now in their fourth year, the awards, organised by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), are the only awards dedicated to showcasing arts and humanities research through film. The evocative short films – all under 30 minutes – are thought-provoking reflections on our time which include drama, documentary and animation.
Chair of the judging panel, Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of the Financial Times, said: “These awards are an opportunity to show off the breadth of talent within the arts and humanities. Covering a range of fascinating research topics, the hundreds of entries across the categories made our job as judges very difficult. Thanks to everyone that took the time to submit an entry and congratulations to the five winners.”

The five winners were selected from hundreds of submissions in the different categories and received a trophy as well as £2,000 towards future filmmaking projects. There were two new categories for 2018 – the ‘People on the Move Award: Stories of New Beginnings’ to mark the 70th anniversary of Windrush and the ‘Social Media Short Award’ which showcases some of the best short films tailored for social media. The AHRC Research in Film Awards 2018 winners are:

Best Research Film of the Year Black Snow – Professor Stephen Andrew Linstead (University of York)
Black Snow tells the forgotten story of the world’s biggest mining disaster of the 19th century, which until recently had remained relatively unremembered. The explosion at Oaks Colliery in Barnsley, South Yorkshire caused the death of at least 361 men and boys in December 1866. The film tells three interlocking stories: the story of the historical community devastated by the disaster; the story of a contemporary community, torn apart by the loss of the mining industry, and the story of Graham Ibbeson, a sculptor, who in the process of creating a statue in memory of those who died, discovers that one of his forebears, George Ibbeson, lost his life in the Oaks Colliery disaster.

Best Doctoral or Early Career Film Correspondence O – Ilona Sagar, Royal College of Art
Correspondence O explores the history of the radical Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham and its subsequent conversion into a gated community. The two-channel moving image installation presents the complex, changing landscape of public health and the social shift towards a more egocentric, user-focused and technology-infused understanding of wellness. The Pioneer Health Centre in South London was founded in 1926 in response to rising public concern over the health of working-class people and an increasing interest in preventative social medicine and experimentation. It culminated in the ‘Peckham Experiment’, (1925-1950) a 24-year study founded on principles of self-organisation, local empowerment and social connection as fundamental to wellbeing. The Centre closed in 1950, though its influence continues today.

People on the Move Award: Stories of New To Be Here – Sam Jury (University of Hertfordshire)
This film shines a light on one of the world’s oldest refugee crises: the displacement of Sahrawi refugees in the Sahara Desert (Algeria) who fled their Western Sahara homeland after a war with Morocco in 1975. The story is told through the voice of a young female Sahrawi translator. It puts under the spotlight the daily life of refugees – especially the women – who have been living in the camp for over 40 years. To Be Here traces their journey, from the early days when they constructed the buildings in the camp themselves to their struggle for self-determination. Many of the women were forced to leave behind family members, including their own children.

Social Media Short Award Missed Call – Victoria Mapplebeck (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Missed Call – one of the first-ever documentaries to be shot on an iPhone X – brings to life a series of conversations between Victoria Mapplebeck and her son, Jim, on how he will reconnect with his father, who has been absent since he was two years old. Her son has no memory of his dad, all that he has are the gifts he once bought and the digital footprint he left behind. Missed Call raises interesting questions about family relationships in a digital world and is the sequel to the award-winning 160 Characters, Victoria Mapplebeck’s first smartphone short. Missed Call was launched on the Real Stories YouTube channel in May this year.

Inspiration Award (public category) Give Me Today, Anytime – George Harris (Mirador)
Give Me Today, Anytime is inspired by the pioneering oral history work of Elizabeth Roberts who in the 1970s recorded the voices of working-class people across the three Northern UK cities of Preston, Lancaster and Barrow. Her archive, which is being digitised at Lancaster University, contains nearly 550 tape recordings and transcripts of interviews through which we hear the voices of people born at the end of the 19th century sharing their perspectives on the timeless themes of birth, love, marriage, health, work, family and death. Taking this a starting point, the directors of Give Me Today, Anytime interviewed people living in those cities now, revealing that themes in the original archive – such as community spirit – still live on today.

The evening was hosted by writer and broadcaster, Danny Leigh. Among the award presenters were Chairman of ITV, Sir Peter Bazalgette, award-winning filmmakers Roger Graef OBE and Kim Longinotto and TV presenter Sophie Morgan. Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of the Financial Times, chaired the judging panel which included Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4 Television, Professor Tom Inns, Director, Glasgow School of Art, Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director of the RSC and Steve Harding-HiIl, Creative Director in Commercials and Short-form at Aardman Animations to name a few.


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