There was one film that will undoubtedly win this category. Sis, written and directed by Deborah Haywood and shot by Director of Photography Gabi Norland alongside a crew full of females. Gabi Norland has spent the past ten years working through camera departments for film and TV leading her to this
, her first work as cinematographer. A script as brave as the casting of the three and five year old actors in the film, it comically addresses how society deals with pedophiles through the eyes of its young protagonists.
At points you can’t help but feel uncomfortable as the young girls show “the man who likes children” their handstands, but their impressive performance pulls off the script with ease to bring the audience to laughter throughout the film. Shot flawlessly, Sis was financed through EM Media’s DV shorts programme and is actually the third of Deborah Haywood’s films to run through the scheme. It has recently been nominated for a BIFA whilst in the middle of its festival run and is a film you’ll struggle to forget. I’m gutted I can’t find a trailer to tease you with however If you’re a film festival goer I imagine this short might be a bit hard to miss in the future.
Shyla Lee is the second woman I’m going to mention in this category for a film she produced, directed, shot and edited herself. In the Dark is the haunting story of an elderly woman who was assaulted by her father in her youth. Part of a big family, she was youngest and early in the film describes herself as her father’s favourite. She reveals a letter her sister sent before she passed, telling our protagonist of her own time as a favourite of their father, it becomes clear to us exactly what that entailed.
Originally from India, Shyla Lee has moved to Singapore, back to India and now lives in the UK. She read her brother’s notes on film directing and realised she wanted to become a filmmaker herself beginning by training as an editor with ITV Yorkshire in 2005 for a year. Unable to find permanent work afterwards, she works as a freelance editor and makes films in her spare time. It’s a testament to UnderWire that shorts such as In the Dark, a film created mainly for a social organisation, have a chance to screen at the festival. Little budget, with basically a single woman doing all the heavy lifting, some shots within this short are wonderfully composed and lit, showing that even the darkest stories can be told with beauty.