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Winners of powerful short film on male rape announced

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Published on 06 February 2019

University Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell and Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon with cast and crew of Talk to Me
University Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell and Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon with cast and crew of Talk to Me

The winners of a hard-hitting short film which shows the devastating impact male rape has on its victim have been announced during an awards ceremony at our University.

‘Talk to Me’ was part of a series of powerful short films created by students in collaboration with Northumbria Police and SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) who were looking at ways to raise awareness and support males who find themselves the victims of a sexual crime, which remains undisclosed in many cases.

This is the sixth year that Sunderland students have been supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, Dame Vera Baird, to collaborate with Northumbria Police in raising awareness about an issue impacting on society, other successful projects have addressed issues such as modern-day slavery, the capacity to consent, sexual exploitation, domestic violence and cyber-crime.

There were three entries by final year students from the Performing Arts and Digital Film Production degree courses, who researched, scripted, devised, filmed and edited all of the three films themselves. The winning team, whose production focused on a male rape in a heterosexual setting, were unveiled at a screening of all the entries at the David Puttnam Media Centre,Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s. The evening was attended by Dame Vera Baird, Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon and the University’s Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell, alongside an audience of specially invited guests.

Dame Vera said: "All these films are profoundly moving. They get across the victims’ sense of trauma, isolation and inability to talk – and how their experience has affected their behaviour, relationships and how they feel about themselves.

"Women are, in the main, the focus of rape – because they are most often the victim of rape. But that is part of the issue – rape is seen as something that only happens to women and it’s already hard for men to talk to other men.

"The films are impactful and you can see the research the students have done. It can’t have been easy to do, to understand the issue and be able to show its ramifications.

"The University has consistently responded to our briefs by producing fantastic films on difficult issues. The University has not shirked from these issues. What you have done for the Police is transmit messages in a way that we cannot. These films will be used by Northumbria Police to share these messages far and wide."

Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell added: “The students researched, scripted, devised, shot and edited all of the work. We were proud to showcase their sensitive and creative responses to Northumbria’s Police’s brief, which was to raise awareness of the reality and stigma of male rape.

“For our students, having the opportunity to work on a live client brief, and on a project with the real potential to impact upon the community is, of course, excellent experience. But more important than that, it achieves what is at our University’s core – a commitment to make a positive impact on society.”

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon said: "No male victim of rape should ever suffer in silence but sadly many do.

 "We have found that all-too often victims, for a number of reasons, don’t feel able to come forward and this absolutely needs to change. These videos certainly shine a much-needed spotlight on this and will be an asset in raising awareness of male rape and encouraging victims to come forward.

 "We do a lot of work with our partners including MESMAC and Changing Lives, who help support rape victims, and together we can use these videos to help build confidence and trust and encourage men to speak out about rape and report it to police."

Latest estimates show that more than one in 10 victims of rape or attempted rape every year are men. However, male-on-male rape has been heavily stigmatised, fewer than one in 10 are reported and few come forward to seek help.

 The brief was to capture three facets of the crime – a historic rape case, a rape in a heterosexual setting and an attack on a victim with a disability. The students then devised a piece of drama suitable for use as an awareness DVD in order to be used as an educational or training tool for the Police and specialists, and to promote awareness of this issue further afield. Specialist staff from SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) were involved in overseeing the content for accuracy. All three entries were judged by a panel from Northumbria Police.

 Final year Media Production student James Vardy, 23, from Penshaw, the director of Talk to Me, said: “Since my first year at the University of Sunderland, film for me has to have a meaning. With this film I’ve had the privilege to make that feels like it really does have a meaning. It was a group project, without everyone involved giving their commitment it would not have been possible. Thank you.”

Adelle Hulsmeier, Lecturer in Drama and Performing Arts at the University of Sunderland, said: “The importance of promoting such a hard hitting and relevant topic has been a great opportunity for the students and we are extremely grateful to the Safeguarding team for all their help and expertise. In all my years working with these themes, this one appeared to be one of the most challenging and hard-hitting and the students are to be commended for their hard work, maturity and professional approach.

“This is not an easy topic to work with and the students have demonstrated an impressive ability, to not only treat the work with the attention it deserves, but to also demonstrate a care and passion for the project, making sure it achieves and showcases what it needs to.”

Adelle added: “It has been great to work with Northumbria Police once again for the sixth year. We are grateful for the Commissioner’s funding which has meant the students have been able to deliver high quality films and congratulations to the winning team.”

 The Winning team:

 James Vardy - Director/Script writer

Troy Wilkinson - Assistant Director

Isaac Johnson - Director of Photography/Camera Operator

Lukas Slapsys - Editor/ DIT

Frank Sverha - Sound recordist/ Sound Designer

Franka Telebuh - Colour grader

Matt Nunn - Assistant Camera/Camera Operator

Callum Martin - Script supervisor/Script Assistant

Ee Rou - Production Manager

Agnes Chan - Grip/Assistant Editor

Lewis Dodds - Gaffer

Additional crew

Sam Donnelly - Continuity supervisor

Ben Halliday - 2nd Assistant Director


Stavros Gidopoulos

Shannon Small

Tulsi Kendall

Sophie Milley

Samiya Khan