University filmmaker shortlisted for prestigious national Award

A film made by a Leeds Professor has been shortlisted for two of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s 2018 Research in Film Awards.

Paul Cooke September 2018

The Research in Film Awards celebrate short films that have been made about the arts and humanities, and their influence on our lives.

The film, called The Born Free Generation, Phendulani's Story and Me, made by filmmaker and Professor of World Cinemas Paul Cooke, has made the shortlist for the Best Research Film of the Year, and the film’s trailer has been short-listed for the Social Media Short Award.

The film tells the story of Phendulani, a 15-year old young man who was living on the streets of Vosloorus Township until he made contact with Lethi’Thema Safe Park (Youth Centre), which is supported by the UK-based charity The Bishop Simeon Trust. It tackles questions such as: What’s it like to grow up in South Africa over twenty years after the end of apartheid? What does democracy mean to this generation? What are their hopes for the future?

Paul Cooke film September 2018

Professor Cooke said: “I can’t believe that we’ve been short-listed for two awards. Working with Bishop Simeon Trust and the vulnerable young people they support in South African Townships has been life changing for me.

“They’re an amazing bunch with incredible talent. This nomination will help to raise awareness of their situation and our continuing work together. I hope there will be lots more films to come!”

Mike Collins, Head of Communications at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: "The standard of filmmaking in this year's Research in Film Awards has been exceptionally high and the range of themes covered span the whole breadth of arts and humanities subjects.

"While watching the films I was so impressed by the careful attention to detail and rich storytelling that the filmmakers had used to engage their audiences. The quality of the shortlisted films further demonstrates the fantastic potential of using film as a way to communicate and engage people with academic research. Above all, the shortlist showcases the art of filmmaking as a way of helping us to understand the world that we live in today."

Nearly 150 films were submitted for the Awards this year and the overall winner for each category, who will receive £2,000 towards their filmmaking, will be announced at a special ceremony at 195 Piccadilly in London, home of BAFTA, on 8 November.

Judges for the Awards include Joanna Norman, Director of the V&A Research Institute, Steve Harding-Hill, Creative Director in Commercials and Short Form at Aardman Animation and Dorothy Byrne, Head of News & Current Affairs, Channel 4 News.

The winning films will be shared on the Arts and Humanities Research Council website and YouTube channel.

Follow the fortunes of the shortlisted films on 8 November at Twitter via the hashtag #RIFA2018.

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