A film co-created by University of East Anglia (UEA) academic Prof Eylem Atakav focusing on survivors of domestic abuse and the people who support them is set to reach a global audience, with screenings in two prestigious international film festivals.
‘Lifeline’, an 18-minute short film which focuses on the pressures of being a social care worker during COVID-19 pandemic, will be featured in the International Section of the International Women Filmmakers Festival (IWFF). The festival announced its official line up today.
The International Women Filmmakers Festival, which is based in Turkey, aims to unite female filmmakers and highlight their ever increasing international visibility. The festival, which is in its fourth year, will take place from Monday 1 March-Thursday 10 March, to coincide with International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March. UEA will be sponsoring screenings of films from the festival, and will run Q&A’s and masterclasses with directors throughout the festival.
Not only that, the film is also an official selection for the Best Short Documentary category for the Global Lift Off Film Festival, which takes place between Monday 15 February-Monday 22 February, and showcases emerging talent from the world of independent film. The public will vote on which films will make it to the Lift Off jury, who will announce the winners.
‘Lifeline’ highlights the intense strain placed upon social care workers during the first lockdown in spring 2020. With much of the country forced to work from home, these key workers were forced to carry out their immensely sensitive and often distressing work in their own private spaces, which no longer provided an emotional barrier away from work. The lockdown period saw a rise in domestic abuse, increasing their workload and the emotional pressure placed upon them.
The film features exclusive interviews via video link with social workers, MPs including Labour's Jess Phillips, policy makers and other experts in the field. It follows several female social workers as they provide support for victims of domestic abuse, whilst finding it increasingly difficult to separate their own work and home lives.
It launched with an online screening by UEA on 25 November last year to coincide with the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, known in the UK as White Ribbon Day.
Prof Atakav said: “I’m immensely proud of the film and the spotlight it puts upon these women and I'm delighted that it has gained international recognition.
“They’re all heroes for being able to do such emotionally raw work, which is tough enough in normal times. But to have to bring it into their own homes, whilst being around their loved ones, really intensified the pressure placed upon them.
“We need to take time to understand each other’s stories so that we can become more empathetic and inclusive.”
Prof Atakav, Professor of Film, Gender and Public Engagement in UEA’s School of Art, Media and American Studies, has worked with parliamentarians, charities, and police forces across the UK, on issues related to gender-based violence and cultural identity. Her previous documentary, Growing Up Married, tackled child and forced marriage in Turkey, an issue she’s also investigated in the UK, contributing to debates on the Child Marriage Bill in Parliament.
Prof Atakav co-created the film with filmmaker Karoline Pelikan, who is an award-winning German-Peruvian filmmaker and whose production company Pelikan Pictures focuses its films on social injustice, violence against women and LGBTQI+ rights. She will be joining UEA on 1 March as a Senior Research Associate, focusing on female contributions to the thriving Peruvian film industry.
Karoline said: “Telling these women’s powerful stories was so important. Domestic abuse has unfortunately increased during the pandemic, as many victims were left unable to access the support they needed – these women really were victim’s lifelines.
“Of course any international film nomination is exciting, and to get two is hugely gratifying, but given the subject matter we were talking about and the people we featured in Lifeline, it feels particularly special for our work to be screened at the International Women Filmmakers Festival, an event that is a celebration of what women can achieve.”
Watch the full documentary
The full-length (18 minutes) film can also also be viewed on Vimeo