Leading film director honoured by Leeds Arts University

20 November 2017

One of Britain’s foremost film directors is to receive Leeds Arts University’s first-ever honorary Master of Arts degree.

Clio Barnard’s achievements will be recognised during a graduation ceremony on Thursday, 23 November.

Professor Simone Wonnacott, Vice-Chancellor, Leeds Arts University said: “Clio Barnard has made a major contribution to the UK film industry with her extraordinary and thought-provoking Yorkshire dramas.

“We are delighted to present her with the University’s first-ever honorary Master of Arts degree and I hope Clio’s success will inspire other young filmmakers to make their mark in the industry.”

Image: Award-winning Clio Barnard has become of the UK's most renowned filmmakers

Clio’s latest film, Dark River, will be released in the UK in February 2018 and stars Ruth Wilson (The Affair) and Mark Stanley (Broken, Game of Thrones). The film explores the fragility of family relationships when a young woman returns to the family farm in Yorkshire following her father’s death. During shooting, University students joined the production team, working on props and costumes, gaining invaluable work experience.

“It will be a huge privilege for me to accept an honorary degree from the University,” said Clio, who completed a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design in 1984, when the University was called Jacob Kramer College.

“Honestly, it was my favourite year of my entire education,” she said. “I really loved it. It was an exciting time - I had left home and I was learning to experiment and be creative. We were encouraged to play and it was very free. It’s where it all began for me.”

She added: “The University has long played a vital role in shaping the lives and careers of so many people in the creative arts. With new courses starting next year, including a degree course in Filmmaking, the future is even more exciting for the University.”

Clio’s first feature film The Arbor was a ground-breaking drama-documentary about the life of the late West Yorkshire playwright Andrea Dunbar, best known for Rita, Sue and Bob Too. It was followed by The Selfish Giant, an emotionally-charged morality tale focussing on the lives and friendship of two schoolboy outsiders who attempt to sell scrap metal after being expelled from their Bradford school.

The Selfish Giant premiered during Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, later winning the British Film of the Year at the London Critics Circle Film Awards and a nomination for Outstanding British Film at the 2014 BAFTA Awards.