Don’t you love it when a plan comes together! As I travel back to London on the fast train from Glasgow, I am reflecting on being with some truly kind people today (28th November) for a unique screening of a new film. I am also delighted that this film will do some real good in helping innocent people get the help they need.
A year ago (strangely to the day), the philanthropist and art adviser Sigrid Kirk invited me to go to Glasgow and meet up with some people from the Glasgow arts scene. One of them was Adele Patrick, the founder of Glasgow Women’s Library. I had never before been to a library where I was consistently offered tea and ‘a sit down’. I had never been to a library where all of the books were written by women. I had never been to Bridgeton.
Adele’s charisma radiated from her, she literally glowed with positive energy. Her passion for women in literature and empowering women and their creativity was intoxicating. Adele told us about the Daisy Project, a place where women can go and get advice and support on Domestic Abuse. The Women’s Library had been developing a play called ‘Her Spirit Soared’, on coercive control in the Asian community with the Daisy project and they wanted to do more. I had never heard of the term 'coercive control’ but I was keen to learn about it. When I explained how Chocolate Films operates as a production company and a social enterprise, Adele told me about how they hoped to make the play into a film.
So what is coercive control? If you haven’t seen the 1940s thriller, Gaslight, with Ingrid Bergman, I suggest you do so now. It’s about a man who psychologically drives his wife mad and secretly drugs her so she eventually has a nervous breakdown. Unfortunately it’s not just a great way to create a strong antagonist in a film, it’s real and victims continue to suffer from this type of mental abuse at the hands of their partners, often finding it hard to explain and report to the police.
Over the last year my Chocolate Films team worked alongside the writer of the play, Syma Ahmed and developed it into a screenplay. Needless to say, we had hardly any budget, but with a tenacious and dedicated team, a talented writer and strong actors, we managed to create a tense, powerful and gripping short drama which we’re all truly proud of.
We are now a year on from my original meeting with Adele and this morning we were at the premiere at the Cineworld Silverburn this morning. There were over 200 people in the audience.
The film, Shifting Sands, follows newlyweds, Sarah and Max, as Max persistently tries to control Sarah’s every move reducing her to weight loss, drugs and ultimate misery.
The trailer for Shifting Sands
Mariam Ahmed, one of the producers of the play and film and an Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate at the Daisy Project, led a lively discussion about coercive control for the audience. Someone spontaneously opened up about her own story of how she had been made to feel worthless within a destructive relationship. The mood was both sombre and safe, some were angry, others saddened by the reality of the story which had been based on case studies of real situations. Nonetheless it was a positive and passionate event where people felt they could open up and talk about this often taboo issue.
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