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The Spring

Inspired by the works of Marjane Satrapi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Spring is a film about forced marriage, exploring the illusion of choice within the myth of 'separate but equal'. Set in a world where men and women live in apparently equal, yet parallel universes, The Spring is the story of a young woman on the most important day of her life: her wedding day. But her world is not as it seems.

  • Kate Marie Davies
    Key Cast
    Apparition of Evil.
  • Scott Wharram
  • Scott Wharram
    VFX Artist
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 43 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 8, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    500 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Artemis Women in Action Film Festival
    Santa Monica, California
    Special Selection
  • Plymouth Film Festival
    Plymouth, UK
    May 16, 2015

Gabriela Staniszewska was born in Bristol, UK. After studying American Studies with Film at Kings College London, she completed a masters in Production at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Her first major project was Bristol zombie film 'Blaise', for which she was the producer, as well as other credits. Since then she has assistant directed and produced various other short animations and live-action films. This his her live-action directorial debut.

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Director Statement

I have never been quite so moved by someone's life story as I have been by both Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Marjane Satrapi's. The complex relationships with their parents, the drastic changes to their immediate environment and culture, and the painfully detailed description of Ms Ali's own circumcision, all amazed me, but not as much their ability to stay strong within themselves despite such adversity.

To know oneself and to have confidence in one's own beliefs is a difficult task at the best of times, and yet Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Marjane Satrapi appear to have wrestled control of her own sense of self despite the devastating personal challenges and great political and social changes they encountered throughout their young lives.

When I read the description of Ms Ali's circumcision, at two o'clock in the morning, with my partner asleep by my side, I had to get up and find a quiet room to cry in. When I lent the book to my closest friend, I received a text from her at another unearthly hour stating "I've just read it. I feel sick". Such visceral and physical reactions can only come from a brutally honest description of something which must have been quite difficult to recount. That Ms Ali is now speaking about FGM, and helping support women who have suffered it through the AHA Foundation, is a testament to the strength and willpower that people can summon despite huge pressure to submit to an oppressive regime.

The strength of these women put me in mind of my own grandmother, who survived the Russian gulags in WWII, when so many around her were lost. She saw such horrific things in her lifetime, and still held a strong sense of self. Women like this are like mountains, with the challenges they face being like water: its attrition may shape them in the long term, but they can withstand great tsunamis without being brought to their knees. I aspire to be as strong in myself as all of these women were.

When I read Nomad, my ideas crystallized and I decided to make a short film about the issues raised in Ali's and Satrapi's work. I live and breathe Science-Fiction and Horror, as I believe they are great channels for expressing controversial political and moral conundrums.

The world I created in the final piece is one where men and women are forced to live in separate, parallel universes, with a third universe organising marriages and births. I envisaged that women would live a hard life, working the land, assuming that their male counterparts live under similar hardships. We meet our main character on her wedding day: a sterile affair with no romance, and watch as her reality unravels before her. The film explores the illusion of choice within the "separate but equal" mythology that is so proliferated by systems of oppression.