On Wednesday 15th November, the team from R3store had the great pleasure of attending the IWM Short Film Festival. The quality of all the shortlisted films was exceptional and judges certainly had a very difficult task to select the winners.
This year saw a record number of entries (just under 700) from 78 different countries, with a wide range of subject matters and styles. The entries were whittled down to 37 shortlisted films and from these, 3 very special films took the 5 prizes home between them.
One of the award winning films, “Lula,” told the real story of a pregnant woman living in German occupied Poland during the Second World War. She is faced with the dilemma of protecting her husband, a Polish resistance officer in hiding, or her unborn child. Director Aoife O’Kelly and her team took home the awards for Best Creative Response and Best Student Film. Check out the trailer for Lula here
The Annie Dodds Award for Best Documentary as well as the Age of Terror award went to “Beauty of a Stateless Mind”, a film that explored the lives of four artists living in the Calais Jungle refugee camp. The film highlights the devastation that displacement can cause while also covering the artist’s hopes for the future and the role art plays in their lives. Check out the full film here
Finally the Award for Best Use of IWM Archive Material went to “Deeds Not Words: The Suffragette Surgeons of WW1” which commemorated the Endell Street Military hospital that was founded by two suffragette doctors. As producer Alison Ramsey states, the hospital was “run entirely by 180 women which treated over 26,000 injured servicemen, under the suffragette motto ‘Deeds not Words’.” Check out the full film here
The festival runs from November 17th to November 26th. You can find more information about the festival here
Below is a Q&A with Alison Ramsey the Producer of “Deeds Not Words: The Suffragette Surgeons of WW1”.
What inspired the film you made/Tell us about the film you made/How did you get the idea for the film?
We were inspired to make the film by noticing a plaque on the wall of a 1970s housing estate in Covent Garden which sits on the site of the Endell Street Military Hospital, the first British Army Hospital run entirely by women during WWI which was founded by suffragette doctors Louisa Garrett Anderson and Flora Murray. We were intrigued to find out more, and our research led to an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project encompassing the production of an immersive play, a touring exhibition, a community art project to create three suffrage banners commemorating the hospital, and a short film. The Women’s Library LSE has a treasure trove of photographs, letters and diaries from women who worked at Endell Street and we also tracked down some wonderful informal photographs held by the Cook Dickerman collection in the US. We were very fortunate that Dr Jennian Geddes, an expert on the history of the hospital, agreed to act as our historical adviser and we interviewed her, together with the granddaughter of one of the young women who had worked there, and other relatives were also kind enough to share with us their family stories and photographs. We felt incredibly inspired by the extraordinary story of the women who ran the Endell Street Military Hospital - it was founded by prominent suffragettes who, despite suspending their campaign for women’s voting rights at the start of WWI, founded a 560 bed hospital run entirely by 180 women which treated over 26,000 injured servicemen, under the suffragette motto ‘Deeds not Words’.
What led you to enter the IWM Short Film Festival?
We wanted to include film archive footage of WWI in the film and of course the best collection in the world is held at the IWM Film Archive, and whilst we were researching footage we saw the IWM Short Film Festival call for entries. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for us, especially when we found out that we would be able to include a certain amount of archive footage in the film for free if it was submitted to the
Festival; this helped us as we had a very small production budget. The use of the IWM film archive footage really brought the film to life and we are delighted that the story of the extraordinary women who founded and worked at the Endell Street Hospital will now reach a wider audience through the Festival.
Why do you think war/conflict films are important?
Films about war can give us unique insights into the terrible human suffering that lies at the heart of every conflict. On a personal level, the landmark ITV documentary series ‘The World at War’ had a huge impact on my understanding of my own father’s experiences in WWII as a conscripted teenage soldier who took part in the D-Day landings. Watching the series with him as a child in the 1970s helped me realise some of the awful things he had been through as a young man and how those experiences had affected the rest of his life.
Why is documenting history important?
Documenting history is vitally important in the context of war so that we can learn from past events and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes - now more than ever.
What’s next for you?
Digital Drama has several new projects. We start production next month on a short film about the history of suffrage banners, which is part of a wider project to commemorate the centenary of the Representational of the People Act 1918 which brought in the first voting rights for women in the UK. Groups across London will be making 100 new suffrage banners, inspired by the originals that were made and carried by suffragettes during their campaigning processions.
What message do you want the audience to take away from your film?
We hope that after watching our film the audience takes away a sense of admiration for the pioneering work of Louisa Garrett Anderson, Flora Murray and the other 180 female doctors, nurses, orderlies who worked tirelessly treating the wounded at Endell Street during WWI, and through their actions proved through ‘Deeds not Words’ that women deserved to be given the same rights as men.
How long did the project take to complete?
We spent six months raising finance and in pre-production research (sourcing archive
material, finding experts and contributors) followed by one day’s filming and a week’s editing.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when making the film?
The biggest challenge we faced when making the film was how to tell the story in an
interesting way without being able to include any actuality footage. It can be hard to tell a historical story well through using just filmed interviews and photographs. There is such little film archive footage from the WWI period and it can be very expensive to license, and we had a very small budget. This problem was solved once we had sourced some amazing IWM archive film and were able to intercut with the interviews, bringing the story to life.
How did you make sure your project accurately reflected true events?
We were very fortunate that Dr Jennian Geddes, the worldwide expert on the Endell Street Hospital, agreed to join the project as our historical adviser, and was therefore able to fact check everything we included in the film. In addition, we were greatly assisted by Gillian Murphy, The Women’s Library’s extremely knowledgeable archivist.