07 March 2022

As part of celebrations for International Women's Day around the world, a short film directed by the University of East London's Dr Lindsay Anne Hallam is to be showcased at Wench Film Festival in India.

They Called Me David was chosen from thousands of submissions to be included in the Mumbai film festival (4 to 14 March) which supports, encourages and celebrates women and non-binary storytellers by providing a platform to showcase their craft.

The six-minute horror short was shot by Dr Hallam, a senior lecturer in film at the school of Arts and Creative Industries, using a Super 8 camera, and follows the story of a genderless being that's created in a lab as a science experiment.

It received its premiere at FrightFest in London in August 2021 and in the last few months has been showcased at the Sydney Science Fiction Festival in Australia, the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival in Germany and now the Wench Film Festival in India.

"I'm really surprised at the reaction to the film; it's been really positive," explains Dr Hallam. "I shot the film on a Super 8 camera, with no money, just in my bedroom. It has that low-budget, lo-fi, schlocky feel that you get with the '50s and '60s B-Movies. I think because it's about a being that’s trapped and it's shot in one room it's resonated with the climate. It's how we all felt during lockdown."

Seeing her first-ever short premiere at Leicester Square was a pinch-me moment for Dr Hallam but it did also highlighted the lack of equity in the film industry.

"I have been going to FrightFest for years and one of my goals was to enter a film into the festival," she said. "I never thought They Called Me David would be accepted. It was amazing to see it premiere at Leicester Square. Such a surreal moment.

"However, what I noticed was that even though the vast majority of shorts were directed by women there were only a few features directed by them.

"There is a big barrier - and it's always been the case - of how women filmmakers go from making a short to a feature.  It seems a male director only needs to make one short film and then they go straight on to features whereas a female director has to make a number of shorts to prove herself before they get given the same opportunity."

Events like Wench Film Festival are playing their part in helping to promote and champion women filmmakers by encouraging the film industry to "shape perspectives by shifting the gaze".

So, on this International Women's Day what is Dr Hallam's advice to female filmmakers? "Don't be discouraged. It's important not to be too critical of your work. Don't try too hard to make things perfect. You have to put yourself into the work, you have to have confidence and not be insecure. Try anything, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Don't let anyone - including yourself - stop you from pursuing your goals!"

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