Clio Barnard Wins Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Prize

"The Selfish Giant"

The British filmmaker picks up the inaugural $48,500 cash prize, which also comes with access to the Trust's experts at the forefront of medical research, ethics and the history of medicine.

LONDON – U.K. award-winning filmmaker Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant, The Arbor) has been awarded the inaugural Wellcome Trust and BFI screenwriting fellowship in association with broadcaster Channel 4's standalone filmmaking unit, Film4.

The award comes with a cash prize of $48,500 (£30,000) and aims to give Barnard "the opportunity to delve into and draw inspiration from the exciting worlds of neuroscience, genetics and human development, supported by one of the world’s leading supporters of the arts, humanities and sciences [the Wellcome Trust]."

Barnard's fellowship was announced at a special reception on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at the Wellcome Trust’s headquarters in the British capital.

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As well as winning the cash, through her contact with the Wellcome Trust, Barnard will have access to experts at the forefront of medical research, ethics and the history of medicine.

She will be given the chance to spend time behind the scenes at Wellcome Collection and visit the Trust’s research centers in the U.K. and internationally, including the option to have a brain scan at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, UCL.

Barnard secured the fellowship "in recognition of her original, enquiring and visionary screenwriting."

Her work has drawn praise from across the film industry.

Her most recent movie, The Selfish Giant, is nominated for six British Independent Film Awards, including best British independent film, best director and best screenplay.

It debuted in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes and won the Europa Cinemas Label Prize for best European film.

Said Barnard: "This is an incredibly generous and unique opportunity to mainline inspiration; a unique opportunity to access cutting-edge research as well as the Wellcome archives; a unique opportunity to immerse myself in past, present and future ... the freedom to explore and experiment, to see what emerges, to alter my view of the world and beyond; a unique opportunity to switch between the minute details and rigors of research and to stand back to try and see the big picture."

Clare Matterson, director of medical humanities and engagement at the Wellcome Trust added: "From research and discovery, to art, film and television, the Wellcome Trust supports the brightest and best minds in exploring what it means to be human. Clio Barnard exemplifies this with her work, and so we are delighted that she has accepted this very first Screenwriting Fellowship."

BFI Film Fund senior executive Lizzie Francke described the fellowship as "a great opportunity for a screenwriter to immerse themselves in the wonders of Wellcome, to provide some thinking and dreaming space, so as to create stories infused by the biomedical world."

The Wellcome Trust has been working in partnership with the BFI, the U.K.'s lead film agency, with Film4 executives playing an advisory role in the development of the fellowship offer.

Eva Yates, senior development editor at Film4, added she hoped Barnard's accomplishments as a fellow and "the extraordinary resources available through the Wellcome Trust will inspire a generation of screenwriters to explore the intersection between cinema and biomedical science, and the potential it holds for unique and universal storytelling."

The fellowship builds on the the 2012 Wellcome Trust screenwriting prize and is one of the most lucrative and covetable screenwriter prizes in the U.K.

Barnard is due to begin her screenwriting fellowship in January 2014.