Wednesday, June 9, 2021

2021 Films: Danni the Champion

Danni the Champion by Laura Cameron-Lewis
United Kingdom (Milwaukee Premiere)

Running Time: 10 minutes
Screening Time: TBA

Young Danni isn’t like the other girls in town. She’d rather be watching drag races down at the airport or tearing about behind the wheel of her brother’s car, Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes blasting on the stereo. Bored of her life on the island and stifled by her passive-aggressive parents, she dreams of hitting the road and showing everyone what she can do. A powerful short from writer Iain Finlay Macleod, starring Francesca Taylor Coleman and directed by Laura Cameron-Lewis.

Produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, in association with BBC Scotland, Screen Scotland, BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine project, An Lanntair and Studio Fir Chlis with support from Hopscotch Films.

Director's Bio:

Developing new ways of making film and television with a theatrical sensibility, Laura has been experimenting with form and writing for television and is working on a full length feature film version of her theatre show 'How the Light Gets In'. Danni the Champion is her first short film as a debut Director.

Laura Cameron-Lewis Born in Fife, Laura was a member of Carnegie Youth Theatre and Kelty Musical Association before she studied on the Performing Arts NC and Acting HNC at Edinburgh’s Telford College, training includes with Derevo theatre company, Angela De Castro, and Gardzienice in Poland during her BA (Hons) Theatre (Devised) at Dartington. She then undertook an MPhil (Research) at Glasgow University in Compositional Strategies for Pervasive Performance under Dee Heddon and Simon Murray. National Theatre of Scotland work includes: Highway Diner’s, Scale of Tears; and Quantum Physical. Other theatre work includes: the new musical, How the Light Gets In with Shona Reppe, Soil and Soul and the Royal Lyceum’s The Illiad, Whatever Gets You Through the Night The Arches/Pachamama/Biphonic; (g)Host City Edinburgh’s Virtual Festival, The Selfish Giant The Arches Theatre Company, Works of Temporary Solace, This is How We Say Goodbye, Franz Ferdinant Impromptu all by Highway Diner and Dig for Fire, and Andromache by Laboratorium-33. TV work includes Gary the Tank Commander The Comedy Unit, Children of Hoarders and Demented for Studio Fir Chlis. Film work includes Whatever Gets You through the Night The Arches / Pachamama/ Biphonic / Daniel Warren, and How the Light Gets In Ootlands and Studio Fir Chlis. Laura won the Scotsman Fringe First award for Highway Diner’s Works of Temporary Solace, and was one of the key creatives on the Creative Scotland Award winning Whatever Gets You Through the Night.

Director Statement

I’m thrilled to be working with NTS Scenes for Survival on Iain Finlay MacLeod’s incredible monologue Danni the Champion. As a theatre director who has recently transitioned into making film and television this has been an especially exciting project to work on and it’s been an absolute honor and a joy to bring the world of Danni to life. Exploring the beauty, rhythm and sounds of the Isle of Lewis and its indigenous Gaelic culture was a key part of the work for us, and It’s especially important that young rural people and Gaelic speakers have the opportunity to see themselves in all their complexity and vibrancy on screen and on the stage. This piece is a powerful antidote to the stereotyping of places outside the cities. Growing up on the island, this is Francesca’s debut professional performance and giving a break to a person from the island and shooting this very contemporary piece on the island is a statement of intent. Dig Where You Stand. We are here, we are an innovative centre and not the edge of the world. It was a really rich process to work together to capture the sense of liveness with an almost improvisational feel in Francesca's beautiful portrayal of this fascinating and powerful character. It’s at once cinematic and yet also theatrical — it was important to me to capture the looseness, the liveness, the drive and an almost elegiac feel as the voice is swept away with the muscularity of the music. The main music in the piece (Fois Anama) is my vision of an ancient keening song, a vigil for the passage of a life from one world to the next which in this film, turns out to be a passage into the next stage of her life - breathing the Gaelic spirituality into a banging, rock and rave fused expression of contemporary life on our island. All in all, I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to bring to life the compelling thrust in the stream of consciousness of Iain Finlay’s poetic and witty storytelling. We hope that you too are swept along with her to her destiny and her discovery of agency and her own power to control her life.

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