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SHEILA hasn’t been herself since her birthday party. Her roommate JOANIE has noticed but is too preoccupied enjoying her new relationship with TIM. Over the course of a weekend Sheila struggles to understand her own experience as the world around her becomes stranger and stranger. Sheila’s feelings of disorientation and isolation escalate when Joanie accidentally lets their house cat escape. No longer able to pretend or ignore what she is experiencing, Sheila finally finds the words to tell Joanie that Tim assaulted her. As the friends come to terms with a new and devastating reality, a question remains unanswered between them. Would Joanie have believed Sheila over Tim?
I wanted to make this film in order to try to make sense of a world that no longer feels safe. After the last few years, I suspect many of us have had experiences which have made us question whether the world is broken, or we are. Following the events of the opening scene, we find Sheila navigating a world that has become strange and unsafe. As she begins to notice the specifics of this experience, the audience do too. The suddenly empty wine glass, the night that disappears the moment she closes her eyes. All these moments are mimicking what it feels like to be gaslit. To doubt yourself in order to accept others’ perception of your own experience. You’re too sensitive! You’re making a drama out of everything, He’s not that type of guy! By using the idea of ‘bad movie continuity’ happening to someone in real life, I hope to create the sensation for the audience of being gaslit. Initially questioning if these continuity mistakes are intentional or just ‘bad filmmaking’, before realising, as Sheila does, that these things are really happening. In writing the relationship between Sheila and Joanie, I wanted to play with the idea that whilst we know the technical terms for assault, rape and sexual violence, they can feel foreign and uncomfortable when trying to say them in regard to yourself. There is a clear friendship and history between Sheila and Joanie but the very real and honest question remains. Would Joanie have believed Sheila if she had told her straight away? I think too often we struggle to believe victims when the perpetrator is someone we have an investment in seeing in a certain way. Whether it is someone we know, we love, or even a celebrity whose idealised image we want to preserve for ourselves. Whatever Tim thinks he has or hasn’t done, it is Sheila who has been forever altered. Carrying a knowledge of the world she wishes she doesn’t have. My aim with this film is to be able to explore and almost explain what it feels like when a traumatic event in your life causes the ordinary to become unsustainable.
17 Minutes
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Hester Bloom


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