Sisters’ relationship with genetic disorder wins research student film prize


A FILM that captures sisters’ feelings towards a devastating genetic disorder, Myotonic Dystrophy, has won an arts student a prestigious award.

Jacqueline Donachie (pictured above) shot her short film Hazel based around a series of interviews with the siblings, one of who has the inherited genetic neuromuscular disorder, and one who does not, as part of her PhD research at Northumbria University, Newcastle.

The film explores the sisters’ attitudes to the ongoing effects of the disease and focuses not only on their physical and emotional wellbeing, but also takes a wider look at the effects of ageing.

Myotonic Dystrophy is an inherited disease that affects the muscles and other body systems. It is characterised by progressive muscle wasting and weakness.

Hazel is also a personal reflection of Jacqueline’s own experience, with her sister, and many others in her family, who are affected by the condition.

It won ‘Best film by an AHRC-funded doctoral student since 1998’ at the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Research in Film awards.

“I am delighted to have won this award from the AHRC”, said Jacqueline. “It means a lot to have this research recognised by such an experienced panel of judges. “I look forward to developing the film further for exhibition next year.”

The AHRC awards attracted nearly 200 entries across five different film categories and mark the AHRC’s 10thanniversary. The event was attended by film critics, industry experts and senior academics. Jacqueline has received a prize of £2000 towards investments in her future filmmaking activities.

Mark Chapman, Graduate Tutor in Media Production and part-time PhD student at Northumbria, was also nominated in the awards for his film, CAMREX, under the ‘Award for innovation in film – Best film in the last year’ category.

The 15-minute film was part of his practice-based PhD project exploring documentary film. It is a multi-platform project set in a hostel, which examined the lives of its residents – many of who had very complex needs.

Mark also currently teaches film production at Northumbria and is currently working towards a PhD exploring creative documentary. “We’re developing a highly innovative and accessible film production-based research culture here at Northumbria”, he said. “It’s great to be a part of that.”


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