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Award-winning documentary and film maker awarded honorary degree from Northumbria University

7th December 2023

Bafta-nominated writer-director Clio Barnard has been awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Northumbria University, Newcastle.

Clio is a British filmmaker who graduated from Newcastle Polytechnic – now Northumbria University – with a First Class B.A. (Hons) with distinction in Fine Art.

Her acclaimed films explore aspects of life in the North; her narratives are gritty but also hopeful, celebrating the resilience of people who live on the margins.

Critics have compared Clio’s work to that of British film director Ken Loach, while also noting her lyrical and poetic stylings.

In 1988, her postgrad video work Dirt and Science focused on Turner Prize-nominated artists Jane and Louise Wilson - who hail from Newcastle - and toured internationally as part of the ICA Biennial of Independent Film & Video, curated by actress Tilda Swinton. Jane Wilson also studied Fine Art at Newcastle Polytechnic.

She then won widespread critical acclaim and multiple awards for her debut feature, The Arbor, an experimental documentary about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. This was followed up by a feature film, The Selfish Giant, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and saw Clio nominated for the BAFTA Outstanding Debut Award in February 2011. Most recently she has directed The Essex Serpent for Apple+ television.

In her continual questioning of the processes of bringing ‘reality’ to screen and through her focus on highlighting underrepresented and disadvantaged communities in her work, Clio is an inspirational and positive role model for both Northumbria University’s staff and students.

Speaking about her honorary degree from Northumbria, which was presented during winter graduation ceremonies held at the University’s Newcastle City Campus, Clio said: “It is a great honour as I loved studying Fine Art here in the 1980s. It’s wonderful to be back and I feel incredibly pleased to be given this award. I’d like to thank Professor Gavin Butt, at Northumbria, whose recent work brought us into contact, enabling me to reconnect with the institution.”

Northumbria University awards honorary degrees to individuals who have obtained the very highest standards of scholarship, outstanding achievement, or distinction worthy of national or international recognition in their academic or professional field.

Find out more about Northumbria University’s Honorary Graduates.


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