THE NIGHTINGALE, 37min., UK
Directed by Robbi Stevens
Set in London and inspired by real-life events, The Nightingale follows Grace, a second-year university student, on her reckless and dangerous path through the different stages of PTSD. With unflinching honesty, the film explores the lasting impact of sexual assault and the courage it takes to overcome it.
Get to know director Robbi Stevens & producer Abbie Elliott:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Robbi: I’ve always wanted to tell stories that asks the audience to contemplate what life is really like for people who have been through injustices like Grace or for anyone who has suffered discrimination. Then around 2019, so many girls and young women I knew were going through different levels of trauma after been sexually assaulted or raped or just having to contend with rape culture. It had become normalised - even decriminalized. It started to feel like an emergency with everyone looking in the other direction and no-one coming to help. Then COVID hit and I sat down and wrote it. It was a call to action! We wanted to shatter the complacency surrounding sexual violence by bringing attention to the lasting impact it has on victims. We refuse to accept a society where violence against women and girls is deemed baseline, and where the burden of preventing assault falls solely on women. Through the raw power of storytelling, we want audiences to witness and truly comprehend the immense struggles victims endure long after the act.
‘The Nightingale’ is not intended to focus on the perpetrator but rather on the strength and resilience of the survivors as they overcome adversity. It is crucial to shift the narrative away from victim-blaming (‘cover your drink, don’t go home alone, stop wearing short skirts) and instead foster a collective responsibility to address this societal problem.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Abbie: 3 years, 1 month and 2 weeks… Not that I kept count or anything…
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Money. We didn’t want to cut costs if it meant compromising on the quality of the film but films cost a lot.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Robbi: Blown away. Grateful. We were sat together. It was the first time we’d really heard any feedback from anyone who wasn’t involved in making the film.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
Robbi: When I was 12.
Abbie: I’ve been making films with Robbi for a few years but it was 26th June 2023, so yes, after we finished The Nightingale. It was my last night in Melbourne. I was in a Jazz bar and all I could think about was taking everything in, every detail. The people, their clothes, how they stood or sat, the stuff on the walls. This was going to be a scene in a film. No idea what film, but I’m making it.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Robbi: Erin Brochovich
Abbie: This is so bad but I’m pretty sure it’s the first Alvin and the Chipmunks film.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Abbie: The feedback element of this festival is great. There should be more opportunities for clear, considered feedback.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Abbie: It’s been a super simple way to manage submissions and stay on top of what’s happening when, especially when the film’s screening world-wide.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Robbi: Salad. Can’t beat fresh veg with some lemon on top.
Abbie: Not a meal, but I love mushrooms. Bit of garlic, bit of Himalayan salt. Beautiful.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Abbie: We’ve got two short films in post at the moment. I’m excited to enter them once they’re done!