Over the last year, the arts, cultural and entertainment sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic – but talented film-makers from the University of Sunderland now have reason to celebrate.

The University took home three top prizes at the Royal Television Society (RTS) North East and The Border Student Television Awards, which were held virtually last night.

The awards are given each year to celebrate and support students who are interested in TV and film.

Diana Cunha Teixeira, who graduated from Sunderland with an MA in Media Production (Film & TV) last year, was the producer of Impresença (Unpresent), which won best scripted production.

The 26-year-old worked alongside fellow students Rodrigo Figueiredo, Lewis Harley and Max Woodhall on the film, which is based on a true story about loss and how to overcome it.

Diana, from Portugal, said: “Covid brought many challenges and one of them was getting creative during lockdown.

“It’s very hard because sometimes you just feel hopeless and that it’s not worth working on something that won’t assure you a wealthy future.

“However, to win this award after feeling like this over the past year is amazing, and it’s one more way to tell people to not give up.

“To the staff at the University who were always available to help us, we want to thank them for everything.

“To the professors, thank you for teaching us how to be professionals and how to create films that can change people’s lives.

“I feel very proud as a Portuguese and as a producer of this short film.”

A further two Sunderland students bagged awards in the “Craft” category – Caitlin Ward for her editing skills on Girl Power Cross Fit and Lavie Omar for his camera work on The Lines, which also received a nomination in the “Scripted” category.

Students Joe Hair, Pedro Carvalho and João Chambel worked alongside Lavie on the film, which is about a young county lines victim whose brother is a police officer.

Joe, 23, from Sunderland, who graduated from the University last year with a degree in Film Production, said: “It is a real privilege that our short drama, The Lines, was nominated in this category.

“While studying I noticed that the quality of short films coming out of the region’s universities is very high, so it is particularly pleasing to know that our project was recognised as being one of the best ones.”

Lee Hall is Head of School of Media and Communications at the University of Sunderland.

He said: “Every year our students make a splash at the Royal Television Society Awards, but this year it is all the more special to see their names up in lights.

“The work has been outstanding in its own right but, against the backdrop of Covid, students have worked doubly hard and stretched their creativity to the maximum.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University and Chair of the RTS Education Committee, Graeme Thompson, added: “To have your work showcased regionally and then nationally is an amazing opportunity for students wanting to work in the business.”

The winners for the national RTS Student Television Awards 2021 will be announced on Friday, June 25th.