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Yorkshire-based Oscar winner’s new film premiers in York

Serena Armitage

Serena Armitage, who won an Oscar in 2016 for her film Stutterer, is premiering her new film Charlie in York next month.

Charlie, which is produced by Serena’s new York-based company Red Breast Productions, will be shown at York’s acclaimed Aesthetica Short Film Festival on Thursday November 8.

Red Breast Productions was formed following a grant from the British Film Institute (BFI).

Serena, who was born and brought up in Nun Monkton, near York, said: “What an incredible couple of years this has been. First an Oscar for Stutterer, which was beyond my wildest dreams, then the award from the BFI, which allowed me to set up my own independent production company, and now our new film Charlie.”

Charlie is being supported through Film London’s “London Calling” scheme – an initiative set up to nurture and champion the UK’s most exciting breakthrough talent and by York-based investor and film producer Richard Fletcher.

Serena said: “All of us at Red Breast Productions share a desire to tell simple, compelling stories that get to the heart of the shared human experience. Charlie does exactly that.

“The film tells the story of Charlie, a peculiar individual who doesn’t quite see the world in the same way as everyone else. He doesn’t speak, people struggle to fathom what goes on inside his head, and he has no apparent desires beyond exploring his vague, transient curiosity.

“Charlie lives in the secluded peace of the countryside with his father Henry, a rugged outdoorsy type, who cares for him. But Charlie’s world is turned upside down when tragedy strikes, and he is moved to live with his uncle Morris in the city. The peaceful calm of the countryside – all Charlie has ever known – is replaced with the chaos of urban life.

“This is a film where nothing is straightforward. Charlie is a detached young man who acts frequently on emotional impulse. His uncle Morris and girlfriend Rachel have their own struggles with life to cope with: their relationship is tense as their own pasts haunt them; and they cope with the stress of living close to the breadline.

“So when a heartbroken Charlie, who has lived on the fringes of everyday life and doesn’t make for the easiest of house guests at the best of times, is thrust into their lives, each character’s patience is stretched to breaking point.”

She added: “We love Charlie because it’s a compassionate story about care and understanding. It’s a film which challenges us to try to see life through the eyes of every character we encounter – regardless of how weird or angry or destructive or detached people can be.”

The film also tackles the pressing issue of mental health, which, as Serena explains, is a subject close to many people’s hearts.

“We all know people who are struggling with their mental health and, significantly Shan Christopher Ogilvie, the writer and director of Charlie, has first-hand experience of depression, which gives our film a powerful authenticity and integrity.”

Cherie Federico of Aesthetica said: “Serena is an example of a very talented women working in the film industry. Her work on Oscar-winning Stuttter was outstanding and to date it’s still one of my favourite short films.

“It’s fantastic to have Charlie premiere at Aesthetica because we believe in working with our filmmakers as their careers develop and flourish. Serena is a huge credit to the film industry and I look forward to her future endeavours and I am delighted that Aesthetica audiences have the chance to see another production. I wholeheartedly support her production company and eagerly anticipate their future productions.”

Red Breast’s first feature project Look The Other Way – And Run is currently in post-production and the company has several projects in funded development including a biopic of the artist Niki De Saint Phalle  (being written by Deborah Haywood) and an adaptation of Laura Kaye’s novel English Animals, directed by Claire Oakley.


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