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Help raise funds for Mary Seacole film

MAKING IT HAPPEN: Filmmaker Moses Ssebandeke

CREATIVE ENGLAND'S shortFLIX initiative, which works to champion creatives aged between 18-25, has birthed another success story in Moses Ssebandeke, who has written a short film about Mary Seacole and is now looking for finance to shoot and release it.

Mary's Room, the south Londoner says, "celebrates NHS and black nurses. And it puts black women young and old at the centre of the film. Something we rarely see in cinema."

Our Andrea Photiou spoke to Ssebandeke about his vision:

Q: What inspired you to base a film on Mary Seacole?

A: Next year is the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Growing-up, my mum worked as a nurse. I watched her work day and night. Because of that, I have a huge respect for the nurses and want to make a film that pays homage to them.

I want to make this film that shines a spotlight on an underrated British hero called Mary Seacole. She was a Jamaican nurse who in the 19th century who singlehandedly traveled to the battlefields of the Crimean War to take care of the British soldiers. I feel she has been really ignored in British cinema compared to her contemporary Florence Nightingale.

TAKE A SNEAK PEEK AT MARY'S ROOM, BELOW (credit: YouTube/Moses Ssebandeke):

It was only last year we got a statue of her on the Southbank. I feel this film will help shed light on this brilliant woman.

Q: What makes Mary's Room different to other historical media which has attempted to preserve and record her achievements?

A: The film tells the story in a different way. It is told from the perspective of a black nurse today and we examine how much the world has changed from then to today. Through a quirky little story. What I have created is different from other historical films because it tackles the past in a new more contemporary relatable way.

Q: Tell us about the rest of the crew and your cast.

A: I'm still in the process of getting the film cast, but an actress I would love to get onboard would be Adjoa Andoh [featured in the video above] Who starred in Noel Clarke's Adulthood and Brotherhood as well as Invictus. I think she would be perfect for the role.

Q: Which other projects have you worked on, or is this your first?

WATCH MOSES SSEBANDEKE'S PITCH, BELOW (credit: YouTube/Moses Ssebandeke):

A: I have worked as a writer and director for the past six years. I have directed short films that have been shown on British National television and screened in film festivals in Hollywood. I have extensive experience making short films for the BBC.

In 2013 I trained at the BBC Academy. After that, I got to work with BBC Radio comedy. I shot and edited the promotional video for the 2014 BBC new comedy award. This was then shown to the BBC trust as an example of what the BBC needs to do more of.

I worked as a visualisation assistant producer at BBC Radio 1 and 1 Xtra. I wrote the treatment, directed and edited an interactive BBC 1Xtra music video with Stormzy.

I was on a contract at BBC children where I produced, edited and directed content for the CBBC and CBeebies YouTube and iPlayer page and I directed the CBBC Halloween video and a segment within the annual CBBC Christmas song.

Working on those projects has given me the skills to bring a high-quality short film to the screen.

Q: Why is it so important to secure support and finance for Mary's Room?

A: I'm striving to make a film that follows the Bechdel test. This is where, in a film, two women talk to each other about something other than a man and they both push the plot further. We rarely see this in British cinema.

I also like to show a relationship between two women, young and old.

I tried to get some funding before and I came very very close but it fell through. I feel if we want some more stories on screen that are different in the UK we can not rely on the industry but try amongst ourselves to get it made.


To contribute to the Mary's Room project, click here.

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