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'Drawing on Autism' wins 2021 RIFA Award

We're delighted to announce that our PhD student Alex Widdowson has won the Research in Film Award for his animated short Drawing on Autism in the Best Doctoral or Early Career Film of the Year category. Alex's film explores the ethics of representing autistic individuals through animation when made by a non-autistic creator, and has been screened at numerous film festival over the last few months. The next screening of the short will be on January 19th 2022 at the London Short Film Festival as part of the 'Emphathic Gaze' programme.

Following his win, Alex said: “I am enormously proud to be the recipient of this award and would like to thank the AHRC, the Wellcome Trust, my supervisors, and, of course, the anonymous autistic collaborator from the film.

“I am pleased to have been able to use my passion for animated documentary to shine a light on a pressing ethical issue that typically doesn’t receive the attention or discussion it deserves.

“My hope is for my film to honour the autistic community by addressing some of the representational issues that have been raised over decades of campaigning. I also hope to engage other filmmakers and demonstrate how collaborative methods can help address many of these problems. This award will certainly galvanise me as I continue my work in this area.”

You can also listen to Alex talking about his work on the latest episode of the BBC Radio 3 Arts & Ideas podcast in discussion with Naomi Paxton. Together they consider the ethical elements of Alex's film, as well as some of the decisions around the aesthetic choices of the vibrant animation. Listen here:

We'd like to take this opportunity to say a big congratulations to Alex. The RIFAs are awarded annually by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to the best original short films that have been created through active research. Alex's acceptance speech (humble as it is) can be viewed on the following link:

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