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 the University of Sunderland.

‘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.”

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.

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