Cambridge SHORTS is the continuation of a project launched in 2016 to support researchers and filmmakers to work together to make professional quality short films that reach out to new audiences and to tell the story of research. 


Home Environments Matter

Wendy V Browne,
Ruth Sellers

Simon Ball

The Rudd Centre aims to inform knowledge of factors and processes that influence young people’s development, mental health and life chances. We worked with a professional animator to develop a film that aimed to inform the public about the importance of positive home/family experiences for children’s development. We put a spotlight on a research study which involved adoptive children to support our message that family experiences really matter. This project has given us the opportunity as researchers to engage with the public through creative arts to open up conversations about the processes that promote positive development in young people.

"It was a great challenge to be thrown into a new field of knowledge, working alongside really inspiring people and helping them to bring their research to new audiences. It was also a really useful experience to create an idea from scratch and take all the way through to production and delivery."

Simon Ball Director / Animator Comments on CCE

Inner Life

Susie Hulley
Ben Crewe
Serena Wright

George Magner

More young people are serving longer life sentences in England and Wales than ever before. This research highlights young people’s acute emotional response to: long-term separation from family and friends; their loss of identity (linked to being involved in a murder, and the mortifications of imprisonment); and their loss of an imagined future. The offence and victim are central to their psychological struggles, as they grapple with feelings of remorse and shame, which are often hidden from other prisoners and prison staff. By foregrounding the voices of our research participants, this film brings their accounts to life and humanises their experiences.

"CCE provided us with the opportunity to convey the stories of men and women who are often unseen or misrepresented, through a simple and emotive film. It enabled the pairing of the creative team’s expertise on the communication of emotion, via film, with our academic findings, which uncover the often hidden emotional tumult of serving a long life sentence from a young age."

Open the Gates

Elsa Noterman
Camilla Penney

 Jude Cowan Montague
Suzie Hanna

Accessing Land Justice is a project focussed on training the next generation of geographers and geophysicists in public scholarship and community-based research, through engagement and co-production of knowledge with local communities around questions of land. Access to land, which this project seeks to highlight and create public engagement around, is not equitably distributed. Through grounded, local, and timely interdisciplinary research this project aims to involve students and the broader public in pressing conversations and local actions to rethink how we understand and relate to land.

"Cambridge Creative Encounters has been an exciting opportunity to explore creative approaches to both land justice and communication of issues surrounding land access in Cambridge."

Highlighting Holocaust Heritage

Dr Gillian Carr

Neda Ahmadi

Every single site of the Holocaust in Europe faces threats and challenges today. From climate change to vandalism, inappropriate reuse and political manipulation, and from damage in war to general wear and tear over time, not a single site is wholly safeguarded today. The University of Cambridge's Dr Gilly Carr is chairing a project funded by the IHRA which seeks to write a European heritage charter to safeguard all sites today. This film exemplifies the challenge we face.

Dancing the Fine Print

Ranjini Nair

Louis Norris

Ranjini's PhD project is a practice-based inquiry into how the practice and performance of Indian classical dance replicates socio-religious hierarchies within India. In this short film, she examines how the newspaper became a site on which the dancing body is disciplined into a bodily carriage which must adhere to aesthetics determined by the dominant caste practitioners of dance. These words carried in the paper nudged the "classically trained" dancing body into a comportment which was considered to be morally befitting of the nation, disenfranchising hereditary practitioners of dance in the process.

"I really enjoyed the challenge of communicating my research as a short film. I am so grateful to Louis for his patience and attention to detail in the making of this film. The work that goes into a film even as short as this is unbelievable, and I'm glad to have found a wonderful collaborator in Louis."

Ranjini Nair

HOME – A Climate Action

Dr Ronita Bardhan

Neda Ahmadi

As the climate heats up, a large number of people in resource-constrained societies from the Global South will be exposed to the extreme heat burdens indoors. Moreover, with a massive affordable housing stock built in these parts of the world to close the gaping housing deficit, they will be at risk from the climate warming burdens if not well designed to mitigate and adapt to the extreme heat. Combining sound building engineering with local socio-cultural practices and norms can aid in creating "good" climate-resilient homes. A well-designed house can help realise the heat-health potential. The narratives from the residents will tell us what extreme HEAT means to them, how they adapt to it, and how locally acceptable solutions can be translated as innovative design parameters. Exploring these questions through data narratives can inform a "good" heat-resilient affordable housing design. This project stems from the wide range of research projects on heat-resilient low-income houses in India, Ethiopia and Kenya. The data narratives help contextualise the designs while making the future affordable housing stock resilient.  

Funding: Cambridge Africa Alborada, Keynes Fund, ESRC

Finding the cause of a mysterious disease

Dr Elena Pavlova

Benedict Kpaku

A rare disease sheds light on a poorly understood area of cell biology.

Scientists resolved the basis of a rare and fatal disease resembling an intrinsic lysosomal disease but caused by a defective protein-sorting complex – the findings suggest a means for treatment. A mysterious and lethal disease of infants has striking features of mucopolysaccharidosis with a sphingolipidosis. 

VPS33A is a component of the class C core vacuole/endosome tethering (CORVET) and the homotypic fusion and protein sorting (HOPS) complexes, which have essential functions in the endocytic pathway. Here we show that cultured fibroblasts from patients with this disorder have morphological changes: vacuolation with disordered endosomal/lysosomal compartments and, common to sphingolipid diseases, abnormal endocytic trafficking of lactosylceramide. Urine glycosaminoglycan studies revealed a pathological excess of sialylated conjugates as well as dermatan- and heparan sulphate. Lipidomic screening showed elevated β-D-galactosylsphingosine with unimpaired activity of cognate lysosomal hydrolases. The 3D crystal structure of human VPS33A predicts that replacement of arginine 498 by tryptophan will de-stabilise VPS33A folding. We observed that the missense mutation reduced the abundance of full-length VPS33A and other components of the HOPS and CORVET complexes. Treatment of HeLa cells stably expressing the mutant VPS33A with a proteasome inhibitor rescued the mutant protein from degradation. Exposure of patient-derived fibroblasts to the clinically approved proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib, or inhibition of glucosylceramide synthesis with eliglustat, partially corrected lactosylceramide trafficking and immediately suggests a therapeutic avenue for this fatal orphan disease. 

"Collaborating with the scientist has taught me to be accurate on the work which I produce while finding clever ways to creatively simplify complex analytical information through animation."

Benedict Kpaku




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