2023 UNBROKEN Short Film Festival

Welcome to the 2023 UNBROKEN Short Film Festival! Our shortlisted films will be available to watch from 17th October – 22nd October. You can vote for your Audience’s Choice selection between 17th – 21st October, with the recipient of that award, together with the judge’s choice of Winner and Runner Up, all being announced on the 22nd! Please enjoy and share your responses on social media – you can follow us instagram @unbrokenfest

Huge thanks to everyone who submitted their work to the 2021 UNBROKEN Short Film Festival, we were delighted to once again receive films from around the world! In these difficult times it is incredible how we can still connect with each other from miles apart! 🎬✨

This year we received submissions from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and the UK. 

Thank you everyone for your submissions and your continued work supporting mental health throughout the current pandemic.

We hope you enjoy this years shortlisted films! – Don’t forget to vote for your favourite for their chance to win the ‘Audience Choice’ Award!

Voting will be open from 10th October (World Mental Health Day) till 16th October. Our Winner, Runner-Up, and Audience Choice Award will be announced on the 17th October.

2023 UNBROKEN Winner

From the Dark

Judges’ comments: 

High quality filmmaking, that gives you a clear understanding of the condition.

The image of drowning, of hands dragging the girl down, of her struggle – so brave – then that moment of rescue – powerful and moving.

“Thank you so much, Unbroken Film Festival! It has been a wonderful experience to be part of this year’s edition. We’re not only humbled but very honored to receive this award. Speaking on behalf of my entire cast and crew, we can’t be more grateful for the opportunity of showcasing mental health issues among teenagers like the ones we portrayed in From the Dark. 

 Thank you to the jury and the team behind Unbroken Film Festival for putting together such a great list of short films. We all share a deep love for filmmaking and raising mental health awareness is our common goal. Let’s keep telling stories that everyone needs to watch.”

2023 UNBROKEN Runner Up

Judges’ comments: 

Very well made. A powerful film which captured the absolute misery of a mother watching a loved son self-destruct, and desperately trying to understand both his reasons and her role. The contrast between the other son’s voice of reason and the mother’s desperation was painful to watch.

2023 UNBROKEN Audience's Choice Award

Audiences’ comments:

  • Had me in tears.
  • [Broken Glass] was so life like it actually made me cry.
  • All worthy winners but broken glass is very close to home.
  • Excellent.
  • It evoked emotions in me that I hadn’t realised were there.
  • Gives an insight of how traumatic situations affect people.
  • Particularly resonated with me.
  • Broken Glass was impacting and highlights an important issue to a community that always tries to be strong for everyone else. 
  • I am a retired officer and this really hit home.
  • My vote is for Broken Glass, in some ways it was like a mirror, as a veteran and a Police Officer
  • A brave film that doesn’t pull punches and portrays the uncomfortable truth about the damage being done to human beings in uniform.


Many thanks, one final time, to everyone who has been involved or taken an interest in this year’s UNBROKEN Festival.  We greatly appreciate it – and we hope to be back again in the future with more wonderful work to share. 

With all best wishes for the rest of the year and beyond,

Emma King-Farlow and Amy Floyd
For Shadow Road Productions & UNBROKEN 2023

Help support the UNBROKEN festival by donating via our Go Fund Me page

Meet the creatives and learn more about our 2023 shortlisted films

Arnie's Coupon Book

Arnie, a man riddled with social anxieties, is challenged to use one coupon a day. Can he overcome his anxiety and find comfort in the world outside his apartment?

Directors – Victoria Giambalvo & Emily Ann Banks

Victoria (she/they) is a film and theatre creator based in Edinburgh. Emily (she/her) is a jack-of-all-trades artist residing in NYC. They’ll be damned if the Atlantic is going to keep them from making art together!

Director’s Statement

From Victoria — “Arnie’s journey with his coupon book is a conversation with my own anxiety. Do I struggle to ride my bike daily because it’s very possible I get hit by a car? Absolutely. Do I let that stop me from riding? …it’s a struggle. Sometimes it’s simply too hard to combat my anxiety and leave the house. So, what if there was a fun reason to go out each day?”

This is step one of Arnie’s journey; our goal is to explore his story fully! We want to know who gave Arnie this coupon book, what inspires him to use one every day, and how does this experience change him?

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

Broken Glass

Experience a day in the life of an ex-police officer suffering from PTSD.

Director Biography – Jack Stokes

Originally born in London, then raised in Northampton by Scousers, it is fair to say that Jack Stokes is a little bit of everything.

A creative since childhood, Jack found his love for film through editing. Being ever more curious, he has journeyed through his film career without the bounds of titles or departments. Having worked on short films as an editor and a camera assistant, Jack turned to FinalDraft, and this is where his directing story started.

Who are the people behind the film?

Broken Glass was a collaborative project produced by New Tropic Pictures for PTSD999 who also funded the project. Broken Glass was Directed and edited by Jack Stokes and co-written by Jack Stokes and Floyd Parker-Horwell who also took up the role of DOP for the project. New Tropic Pictures at the time was the seed of a film production company focused on impactful and engaging narrative films. The company is owned by Fletcher Smith (Creative Director) Floyd Parker-Horwell (Strategic Director) and Jack Stokes (Technical Director). This was the first big project for New Tropic Pictures and required a large step up in production to do the story justice with the backing of PTSD999, an organisation focused on bringing awareness to PTSD in the services as well as providing support to those affected. This organisation also allowed the film to have access to Graham Cole OBE who played Tony Stamp in The Bill, as he is a spokesperson for the organisation and has of course played a policeman for many years in the television show.

Director’s Statement

“Purely witnessing an individual can reveal so little yet so much. One living with said individual can, over time, convince themselves that there is no more to know, that the book has closed, that there are no new leaves to be turned. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder carries the horrid property of being a shock to not only those arround the sufferer, but often more so for the sufferer themselves. Stigma has created an almost inhuman disconnect between PTSD and society, that it almost seems unfathomable to the individual that something so dreadful could ever become their reality. Being the son of a PTSD sufferer, the stories I have been told, and more notably, the multide more that I haven’t, created an unbearable sense of guilt, not as an individual, but a guilt to have contributed to the society that for too long has brushed PTSD under the rug. Broken Glass as a film aims to shatter blissful ignorance. Having lived with a sufferer of PTSD, unaware of the horrors that he witnessed, is a precedent to how inconceivable PTSD is. Following Tom on his journey towards his breaking point, Broken Glass offers a glimpse inside the mind of a day-to-day PTSD sufferer.”

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

The story as a whole. We decided to approach this subject head-first, this film was always planned to be used by PTSD999 to aid their presentations up and down the country, so we knew we had to nail every detail surrounding PTSD in this film otherwise it would instantly drive away audiences of thousands of people who have lived through the real thing. The ultimate inspiration comes from my father and his best friend Gary Hayes (both make appearances in the picture) who have dozens of years of police service between them and have experienced their (un)fair share of trauma, trauma which has deeply impacted their lives in different and horrible ways. A lot of our research for this film was from anecdotal evidence from Gary and my father as to how their experiences with dealing with trauma had transpired. As I mentioned previously, we attacked this issue head on, we needed to make an impact on the audience, and to do that, we focused on the senses and how we could exploit them to give the audience an as-close-to-authentic experience as possible.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

New Tropic Pictures productions focus on hard hitting and cognitively engaging narratives and frequently mental health has become a central talking point surrounding our films so I believe our interest in mental health stories, and therefore UNBROKEN festival, ultimately stems from that.

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

About Jack Stokes as a film maker- Originally born in London, then raised in Northampton by scousers, it is fair to say that Jack Stokes is a little bit of everything.

A creative since childhood, Jack found his love for film through editing. Being ever more curious, Jack has journeyed through his film career without the bounds of titles or departments. Having worked on short films as an editor and a camera assistant, Jack turned to FinalDraft, and this is where his directing story started.

Made possible by

Catching Breath

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Scotland has witnessed a spectacular rise in those participating in cold water swimming.

In a country that enjoys thousands of miles of dramatic coastline, an abundance of beautiful lochs, waterfalls, and rivers, ordinary folk up and down the country have bravely plunged their toes (and more) into Scotland’s chilly waters.

Yet, despite the freezing temperatures, participants emerge from the water energised, invigorated, and ready to take on any of life’s challenges.

This short film captures the spirit of enjoyment among those who brave the cold waters around Scotland.

Who are the people behind the film?

Since lockdown, there has been a dramatic rise in participation levels of cold-water swimming across the UK.  Within the film, we wanted to capture the reasons why so many people are seeing the benefits to their own mental health as a result of braving the icy cold waters.  Bruce Murray, the filmmaker, talked to individuals and groups on the beneficial impact they’d experienced from taking up cold water swimming and sharing those experiences and benefits with others.

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

Initially, it was from spotting a social media post from a new outdoor swimming group who were setting up and looking for people to join.  This was in the bitterly cold winter months of 2020/2021, and our initial question was “why do people do that, they must be mad”?  

Out of curiosity, Bruce and his wife went along to find out more about the group and were inspired by their laughter and joy, and the sheer happiness the experience their short 5-minute dook (dip) in the wild North Sea gave them.  Encouraged to try it out, Bruce and his wife made the brave decision to put toes into the icy water and give it a go.  That first-hand experience inspired Bruce to uncover more about the mental health benefits that cold water swimming provides. He talked with several of the newly formed swimming groups that had set up since lockdown, all along the North-East of Scotland.  Each of the groups were keen to encourage others to come along and give it a go, wanting many more to join them.  All of the groups within the film are still thriving today, some with over 100 members attending a weekly session – regardless of the weather conditions.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

From filming the groups, everyone was keen to spread the positive message about cold-water swimming and the impact that they’d experienced to their own mental health because of taking up the activity.  Whether they felt it was like an escape back in time to their own carefree childhood, the companionship and camaraderie of experiencing it as a group, or simply a way of emptying a mind full of worries and life’s issues, whilst surrounded by breathtaking nature and landscapes – everyone said it had a positive impact.  Therefore, from our initial question of “why do people do that”, their universal response was “why do they not? Its an amazing cathartic experience that everyone should try at least once”.  Hence, this short film – to spread the word about cold water swimming and how, regardless of what life throws at you, that 5 minute plunge seems to wash your troubles away.  The UNBROKEN festival provides an ideal opportunity to showcase our film and share the positive experiences of those that took part.  For those looking for ways to escape or tackling anxiety from life’s worries, we hope that our film, Catching Breath, inspires others to give it a go.

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

The film was shot over the winter months between Nov. 2020 and Feb. 2021 around the Scottish North-East coast and lochs in the Highlands.  The water temperatures ranged between 5 and 8 degrees C, with the average time spent by participants in the water being under 10 minutes.  Over the course of time, many participants build up their time in the water for “polar bear” and “penguin” challenges or go on to swimming in ice-filled water – but that’s for another film.

Firm It - 2023

Firm It explores the hidden deeper meaning of the secrets of mental health in young black African boys, untangling stereotypes and revealing answers about the origin of violence and anger.

Director – Teni Gideon Ayankoya
Who are the people behind the film?

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

From the Dark

Laura, a shy and introverted thirteen year old, embarks in a dark journey to get free from her worst enemy: Her own self.

Director Biography – Erika Sanz

Erika Sanz is a Brooklyn based filmmaker and award-winning screenwriter for her previous work on “Onlookers” (awarded with the Denali Award at the Alaska International Festival) and as a director on “The Art of Saying Goodbye” (awarded with the Jury Prize at the Aviles Film Festival and the Gijon International Festival, on top of the many official selections on prestigious festivals internationally). She moved to New York City thirteen years ago from her native Spain to fulfill her dream of working in film. She started her film career as script supervisor on well-acclaimed films like iOrigins, Complete Unknown or the recent, White Noise by Noah Baumbach, as well as the HBO TV Shows High Maintenance and The Flight Attendant

Erika’s artistic work focuses on the deepest layers of human behavior, humanizing characters who have often been misrepresented by the media.  Currently, she’s working on several feature film scripts for preproduction and an episodic script in the United States.

Director’s Statement

“This short film reflects a very deep universal wound in most teenagers. Regardless of depression suffering, we have all been victims of our own self sabotage when we were growing up. Always listening to that evil inner voice that makes us the tiniest version of ourselves.”

Who are the people behind the film?

I pulled all my favors from the film industry and my network on this one. The steadicam operator was Yoshi Tang, a great professional who shoots the MET gala every year. Our editor is also a great filmmaker who has been to Sundance, and so many great labs in Europe despite his disability. Ads, grip, and electric have been in worldwide tv shows and feature films. I was lucky enough to be able to work with so many people that I admire and respect. It is incredible they all donated their time and some of their equipment to this short film.

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

I knew about self harm from my sister´s own journey through it. She was already 26 years old when she felt brave enough to talk about this fight that she suffered when she was only 13. I´ve seen stories about depression but not really that many about self-inflicted harm, which seems to be a bit taboo on screen. I wanted to show the epicness of these episodes in a teenager´s head, and the music also accentuates the hardness of every panic attack they have.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

I´ve always been very fond of mental health awareness and how little we talk about it. The more we talk and tell stories about mental health, the easier it will be for people to open up and get help at an early stage instead of waiting years to feel comfortable enough to talk. This festival in particular seems like a great platform for From the Dark to send a message out there, and for anyone in the audience that are going through this kind of experience to feel seen and understood.

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

This movie was shot underwater for real, no AI or any kind of trick, just to ensure the girl felt restrained and uncomfortable to deal with the demons in her head. Water to me means calmness and it´s my favorite place to go when I need to silence my head, so the fact that the bad thoughts go with you, even to your happy place, underlines the situation a teenager is forced to live when anxiety kicks in.

Hey! How Are You?

Five teenager describe their everyday struggles in dealing with their mental illnesses.

Director Biography – Franziska Ebner

Franziska Ebner grew up near Vienna, Austria and graduated highschool with an specialization in art.
Upon graduation Franziska enrolled in a Multimedia Diploma Programme. In this context, she created the short film Hey! How Are You? as her final graduation project.


The short film Mirrors by award-winning director Paul Jerndal is showing Anis don Demina, Cecilia von Der Esch and Danny Saucedo as they meet their mirror images and their worst self-critical thoughts. Mirrors aim to draw attention to mental health and the importance of daring to share feelings and thoughts.

Director Statement

“I hope this film can give you strength to walk in line with your values, to empower you to steer away from things that might hurt you, and to inspire you to self reflection. To improve your mental health.”

Director Biography – Paul Jerndal

Paul Jerndal is a Swedish creator, director, and writer who wholeheartedly embraces the exploration of mental health themes. Through his work, he strives to evoke genuine emotions and inspire meaningful conversations. Recently, Paul’s film Mirrors received the Special Prize at the Health for All Film Festival by The World Health Organization, further affirming his commitment to raising awareness. With a humble demeanor, Paul has nurtured his talents while residing in vibrant cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Stockholm. Currently serving as Creative Director and Director at OTW, he also showcases his artistic prowess as one-half of the dream pop duo, Falcor.

Who are the people behind the film & what inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

“I´m Paul Jerndal, a Swedish filmmaker and Creative Director who strives to make a difference by creating, focusing on mental health – in my films, music, TV shows, campaigns, music videos – yes in most of what I do. I´ve created campaigns for The Red Cross, 29k a non profit for mental health, suicide prevention campaigns etc and strive to make people reflect about their mental health in my work.

I went to Geneva and the World Health Organization (WHO) in early Summer, where I accepted this award for Mirrors. https://www.who.int/sweden/news/item/06-06-2023-harnessing-the-power-of-film–swedish-producer-shines-a-spotlight-on-mental-health-at-the-4th-health-for-all-film-festival


A quiet bus ride home from the city library turns into an aural nightmare for a book-reading commuter. With every stop the bus fills with people and sounds, becoming a chaotic cacophony, joyful to everyone but her. Only when the bus finally reaches her seaside stop does she find escape, slipping back into the watery silence of her natural habitat, where we discover she is not the average commuter.

Misophonia’s richly layered and textured world transcends the humble reused materials it’s made from. Filmed with live-performed puppetry on a multiplane stage, puppets made from pizza boxes elegantly move through breathtaking cityscapes of vintage papers and painted cellophane, immersed in an ever-building atmosphere of sound.

Misophonia is a 9 minute film by The Stringpullers Puppet Company, written and directed by Linda Wingerter, commissioned by Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams Film Series.

Director Biography – Linda Wingerter

Linda Wingerter is a third generation puppet artist, performing, filming, and building puppets and kinetic art as The Stringpullers Puppet Company in Ithaca, New York. Working primarily in cardboard puppets, marionettes, and shadow puppetry, she began putting her work on film in 2019. In 2021 she received a Handmade Puppet Dreams Micro-Commission to create the short puppet film Misophonia.

Director Statement

“As puppeteers we are guided by the knowledge stored in our hands. We dance with objects, romance materials, and conspire with gravity. Common and discarded materials are our allies. Play is our sacred space. We make things and movement to invite joy, contemplation and curiosity into our communities. We’ve come together to share and shepherd this tradition of the tangible through an age of the intangible.”

Who are the people behind the film?

MISOPHONIA was made by the small family team of The Stringpullers Puppet Company of Ithaca, New York, USA, written and directed created and performed by Linda Wingerter with assistance from Evgeni Nudelman and Judy Wingerter. It was commissioned by the Handmade Puppet Dreams film series.

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

I’m a puppetry artist and work in live theater. I started to see other artists putting their puppets on film, and the image of this particular character commuting on a bus came into mind. Over the 5 years I thought about it, it became more and more about this character struggling with the noises the people around her make while being trapped on the bus– the situation in reality I find myself in all the time because of a disorder called misophonia. But I wanted to make the film fun, and give this character a more fantastic and fairy tale reason for her condition, and give her an escape at the end. 

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival ?

My husband and I lived as residents at a zen meditation center for a time, where the community focus was always on awareness of the mind and its curious workings. In that environment I could see more clearly all the different ways people experience the world, and a lot of that had to do with mental health. In my own struggle with misophonia I usually feel completely unlike everyone around me– other people always seem to be living more comfortably in the world than I can. And yet from that time at the zen center, I know there are many more invisible struggles going on than I can see from the outside. Art is a way to smooth the sharp boundary between the inner and outer worlds, and I’m interested in any venue that is making a place for art like this to be shared.

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

Misophonia was made from vintage papers and cardboard, and performed by live puppeteering in front of a camera. It is live puppetry rather than animation. Our producers, Handmade Puppet Dreams, is an organization created by Heather Henson, (Jim Henson’s daughter) who is very committed to getting more puppetry on film, and helping to get it seen. There are some amazing puppetry films out there to be found, and it is exciting to be part of this growing art form.

Solo Peaks

Isaac Kenyon, British adventurer and endurance athlete, has set his sights on both summiting and running 218km (135 miles) between the three highest peaks in Wales (Mt. Snowdon, Cadir Idris and Pen-y-Fan). Isaac hopes to be the first to complete this gruelling ultra-endurance run, set to take him 4 days to complete. Throughout the journey, he will traverse some of the best nature spots and countryside Wales has to offer. It will share his love for reconnecting with the outdoors as a natural well-being prescription for his physical and mental health.

Director Biography – Jacob Chambers

Jacob Chambers is a highly talented creator who has been honing his skills in drone, DSLR, film photography and videography since his early teens. A keen environmentalist and endurance runner himself, he specialises in outdoor pursuit and human impact content that seeks to bring about dialogue regarding our place within nature and how we have shaped our planet.

With a wide range of skills and experiences, including photography, camera operation, drone piloting and film production, his work to date has taken him across the world to locations such as Costa Rica, the Dolomites, Andalusia and the Canary Islands to name a few. Recent projects include: Solo Peaks, Cinematography, October 2022; Open Arts 2022, Drone Photography, September 2022; Ashmolean Museum, Photography, March 2022

Isaac Kenyon – Executive Producer, Screenplay & Script Writer, Voiceover Narration, Leading Cast Member

Isaac is one of the youngest international keynote speakers in the world, specialising in sustainability leadership, mental health, motivational resilience. A philanthropic world-record-breaking British eco-adventurer and endurance athlete, he is also an energy transition expert communicator, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London and the Geological Society of London, and a trustee for MIND.

Isaac’s purpose is to empower individuals to make a positive difference in the environment and mental health of others. Isaac has founded B Corporation ‘Climate Explorers CIC’ which delivers eco-adventures to individuals and businesses. He has swum seas, climbed mountains, rowed oceans, worn a 15kg weighted vest during a full Ironman, cycle toured countries, and even cycled over two seas. With an out-of-the-box mindset. Isaac intends to leave a lasting impact of thought-provoking (sometimes challenging) ideas and inspiration to help develop a culture that values the mental health of each other and the environment around them.

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

Isaac: It was a combination of personal experience and a desire to shed light on an important topic. I’ve faced my own mental health challenges, including gripping anxiety and suicidal ideation. During those difficult times, I found solace and healing in nature and sports, and I realized that these elements could be powerful tools in the journey to better mental health.

Recently, I became the first person to run the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge unsupported, setting a new Fastest Known Time record, and running 218km while summiting the three iconic peaks in Wales. Throughout this adventure, every moment was captured on film, with a focus on showcasing the role of self-care and mental fitness in the wilderness.

Solo Peaks is not just about my personal achievement; it’s a story of inspiration and resilience. The goal is to inspire viewers and raise awareness about the positive impact of outdoor spaces on mental well-being, while addressing the challenges of loneliness.

Jacob: “For me, this project was a unique opportunity to combine my passion for adventure with a desire to advocate for mental health. As the videographer, director, and editor, I immersed myself in this endeavour. It was a challenge to capture my run in real-time while ensuring it didn’t interfere with my attempt. This required meticulous planning and proactive preparation for each shot, including summiting with equipment ahead of me and utilizing drones for breathtaking aerial footage.

Visually, Solo Peaks encompasses three main themes: the breathtaking landscapes I journeyed through, the intensity of the running itself, and reflective interviews on the motivations behind the journey. I aimed to showcase the beauty of the natural spaces I traversed, using sweeping drone shots and wide-angle views to evoke awe. This was contrasted with the up-close and personal footage during the isolated and rugged mountain portions of the run. Finally, the interview segments provided a platform for reflection, bringing the audience back to the core message of the project – the importance of nature and exercise in building mental resilience and well-being.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival ?

Isaac: What attracted me to the UNBROKEN festival and film prize, in particular, was its mission and approach to addressing mental health issues. The festival, organised by Shadow Road Productions, had a clear goal of increasing awareness about mental health, reducing the stigma associated with it, and encouraging open conversations on the topic. This resonated with me deeply because of my personal experiences with mental health challenges, including anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

I firmly believe that art, in its various forms, can be a powerful medium for addressing and exploring mental health issues. When I learned that the UNBROKEN festival had launched the Short Film Prize to encourage the exploration of mental health through film, I was genuinely inspired. It provided an avenue for artists to express their perspectives and experiences on this vital issue, which is often surrounded by misconceptions.

My own journey of tackling mental health challenges and finding healing through nature and sports aligned with the festival’s mission. It made me passionate about contributing to the conversation about mental health and well-being. This alignment of values and goals, along with the festival’s commitment to fostering a diverse range of entries and high-quality content, drew me to participate.

In creating Solo Peaks, I saw an opportunity not only to document my personal achievement but also to use my adventure as a means to inspire others and raise awareness. The film aimed to showcase the positive impact of outdoor spaces on mental well-being while addressing the challenges of loneliness, a topic that resonates with many individuals. By using my journey as a backdrop, I hoped to convey the message that nature and exercise can be powerful tools for building mental resilience and promoting better mental health.

The film is raising funds for local mental health charity Mind in Mid Herts and people can donate through this fundraising link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/1st-person-to-run-the-welsh-3-peaks-challenge

In summary, my personal connection to mental health challenges, combined with the UNBROKEN festival’s mission and platform for creative expression, drove me to choose this particular subject and approach for Solo Peaks. It was an opportunity to contribute to an essential conversation through the art of filmmaking and inspire positive change in the realm of mental health awareness.

Enid’s enjoyment of her twilight years has been overshadowed by the corona virus. Government guidelines produced in response to a global pandemic have placed restrictions on visitors to care homes and her world has shrunk. In this tender and moving monologue, Enid invites you into that world, providing a snapshot of her life in lockdown.

**** Broadway Baby: A simple yet moving vignette. Hudson’s performance is endearing
**** The Wee Review: A remarkably human short piece of theatre

Director Biography – Marcia Kelson

Marcia’s short plays have been performed at Putney Arts Theatre, Theatre503, OSO Barnes, and Southwark and Stockwell Playhouses. Two full length plays were longlisted for the Papatango prize (Island Odyssey in 2016, Bed 13 in 2017). Bed 13, updated with an original score by Geoffrey Hewitt, was performed at OSO Arts Centre Barnes in July 2019. Marcia’s two short filmed dramas, The Plague Thing and Stranded were performed on theSpaceUK’s online platform as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2020 and both won OnComm commendations.

Director Statement

“Previously a writer of plays for live theatre, I started producing films of my plays during the Covid pandemic lockdowns. The idea for The Plague Thing, produced for an online platform as part of Edinburgh Fringe 2020, came from my own experiences of being unable to visit an elderly relative with failing memory in a care home due to lockdown restrictions.”

Actor: Carol Hudson

Carol Hudson has tackled a wide range of roles over the years. She started by playing Charlotte in Tennessee William’s The Night of the Iguana (The Edinburgh People’s Theatre). Major roles with Putney Players, Carlton and Putney Theatre Companies included parts in Table Manners (Alan Ayckbourne), Enter a Free Man (Tom Stoppard), The Ladykillers (Graham Linehan) and Little Gem (Elaine Murphy). She felt very privileged to be cast in Marcia’s beautifully observed monologue The Plague Thing which speaks so movingly of the 2020 lockdown situation.

Marcia and Carol are grateful to their local theatre company, Putney Theatre Company at Putney Arts Theatre, whose call to members to make short films to keep the membership engaged during lockdown triggered the making of The Plague Thing. Thanks also to Geoff Hewitt who composed the incidental music.

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

The film was created during the Covid lockdown. The script drew on the experience of the writer who had an elderly relative in a care home who the family visited often, until the government imposed the Covid ban on visits. We wanted to convey the enormity of such an imposed isolation. Having access to Carol’s wonderful acting talents resulted in the decision to write the script from the perspective of an ‘abandoned’ relative.

We deliberately chose to film on a mobile phone, partly because there was no way of meeting up to make a film. And partly because we thought it would emphasise both the time in which it was made, and the isolation of the character, more than using a tool such as Zoom to make the recording would have done.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

Marcia’s short stage play, Sophie’s Story (about self harm) was previously selected and performed at Theatre 503 as part of the UNBROKEN Festival Theatre Showcase. She was so impressed by the collection of short plays, dance pieces and spoken word, covering a range of mental health topics, so this year’s UNBROKEN Film Festival seemed like an ideal home for her first attempt at writing a film script. As a retired psychologist, Marcia has a particular interest in mental health issues.

What else would you like people to know about you or your film?

The film was originally developed in response to a call for short films from Marcia’s local community theatre, Putney Theatre Company at Putney Arts Theatre. They organised this to keep their members involved in the theatre despite being unable to meet in person during lockdown. So Carol and Marcia teamed up to make this short film.

In August 2020, with the scrapping of the in-person Edinburgh Festival, the film was selected by TheSpaceUK online and screened as part of the online Edinburgh online fringe, where it won an ‘OnComm’ commendation.

As the local community search for her son’s remains, Catherine also searches for answers to questions she doesn’t want to ask.

Director Biography – Gavin Kelly

Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, Gavin has spent 8 years working consistently in the thriving local Film and Television industry as part of the Locations department. These experiences provided the opportunity to work closely with some of the world’s leading Directors and Producers. The Search is Gavin’s first short film, and he has ambitions to make more.

Director’s Statement

“I have always had aspirations to make a short film but like many aspiring filmmakers, life takes over. However during the first lockdown I finally decided to put a small script together. I had a few different ideas but The Search was one I kept coming back to. Mainly because my aim is to make original, thought-provoking stories and I felt this achieved that. It is a topic that has been addressed many times in film, but I feel this story looks at things from a different angle. It is a sensitive subject that had to be approached with a certain level of respect while also not loosing its impact, and I hope that’s been reflected on screen.”

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

Growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland, I have seen many of these search parties happen along the banks of the river Foyle. Unfortunately, the river has taken the lives of so many young men over the years and members of their families, who spend weeks searching for the remains.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

I wanted The Search to be selected for Festivals that highlighted Mental Health and encouraged those difficult and uncomfortable conversations.

To Survive is a loud and quiet journey through resilience to anxiety and panic attacks. Told by expression of the body.

Director Biography – Céline Freixe

Céline Freixe graduated from the International Film School of Paris. For the past eight years, she has worked as a freelance video editor for leading
production companies in Paris, and elsehwere.

She also self-produces « my video therapy », her series of self-introspective stories. Where she explores the knowledge of oneself, of one’s emotions, of one’s thoughts, with a real authenticity and sensitivity. Videoing her feelings always helped her through uneasy parts of life. Making videos is her therapy and she hopes her work will help and inspire people.

Director Statement

“In 2021, when I was infected with bacteria, I couldn’t eat and became even skinnier than I was.
I felt so vulnerable. I was suddenly seized with panic attacks and angst took hold of me.
A real fight had begun. Loud. Quiet. Insidious.
I tried to face it, to understand it, to survive.

By making this film, I wanted to talk about resilience. When I improvised these movements on this beach, I let my body talk about it, it was a need to free myself. It was my therapy. I wanted to share my own experience to support people who are going through the same problem. It’s really important to talk about mental health issues because most people are ashamed of them. There are more of us than we think.

With To Survive, I want to inspire people to release their emotions, to embrace them. Because angst comes when we struggle and when we suppress our feelings.

To Survive is an ode to letting go.”

Who are the people behind the film?

I am the main person behind To Survive: Writer, Director, Performer, Editor, Producer. It’s my personal story and I wanted to be the most authentic possible. The person behind the camera is my partner: Jérémy Laidi. He is a director as well and he has been very supportive to me along this journey.

What inspired you to choose the particular subject and/or approach that you did?

Angst is a very challenging and silent journey, and it’s a quiet subject as well. When angst walks with you on your way, you fall, and you try to get up, constantly – and I wanted to show this resilience, this primitive survival mode.

I wanted to show the silence we experience when we face anxiety attacks. But also, the loud sounds of all its thoughts. The sounds of nature express these fears, these angers. I wanted to be seen standing alone facing it, like a fight between me and angst. Because this feeling of loneliness and incomprehension of others was very present in my own story. It was all happening inside.

What attracted you to the UNBROKEN festival?

I wanted to share my own experience to support people who are going through anxiety crisis, panic attacks, angst. It’s really important to talk about it because most people are ashamed of them. If it was more exposed to the world, people would feel less alone as well. A good mental health to me is a good health. I think most of illness comes from a fragile mental health and chronic anxiety and I would like to change that with my films. UNBROKEN Festival stands for mental health awareness and so do I.

Thank you for watching the 2023 UNBROKEN Shortlisted films. Don’t forget to vote for your favourite! The shortlisted film with the highest number of votes is awarded the Audience Choice Award!

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