Private Project


Calais, Northern France.

Father and son Joe and Ivan are moored in a quiet marina, preparing for their return journey to the United Kingdom following a sailing trip. After years of mutual estrangement, they finally seem to be healing the wounds of the past.

Their peace is shattered by the arrival of father and son Afran and Waleed, two desperate men from Afghanistan who board their boat and try to pay for Joe and Ivan to take them across to England.

When an argument escalates into an ugly altercation, one man is critically injured and they all have no choice but to set sail into the unknown across the English Channel.

  • Leo De Haan
    Vendetta, Race Across America
  • Leo De Haan
  • Barbara Maria Hauser
  • Anierin Hughes
    Key Cast
    Keeping Faith, Under Milk Wood
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes 29 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 16, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    76,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • DC Shorts International Film Festival
  • San Francisco Short Film Festival
  • Monadnock International Film Festival
  • The Lake County Film Festival
  • Mystic Film Festival
  • Beeston Film Festival
Director Biography - Leo De Haan

Leo has spent years working as a filmmaker and director with entertainment companies such as LoveFilm, Bill Kenwright Ltd and Amazon. His feature documentary Race Across America was transmitted on British Eurosport. PERSISTENCE will be his third, final and most ambitious short film to date. He is also an amateur sailing enthusiast!

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Director Statement

The seed of this story was born when I witnessed a chaotic and life-threatening emergency at sea, sailing with a small group of individuals from a diverse set of social and cultural backgrounds. As the real-life drama unfolded before me, I witnessed differences bubble to the surface, dissolve and then something transcend above it. Human instinct.

The script went through quite a few changes and different guises before I eventually had a shooting script that would allow me to explore this theme more deeply.

I believe a short film needs to be honest enough to challenge an audience, to take them somewhere different, to inspire them or awaken some long forgotten hidden desire. That was my intention as a filmmaker with this project, given the characters, the situation and the pertinent subject matter.

In this film you have two father and sons from cultural polar opposites clashing in a desperate situation. I’m interested in how our familial roles change throughout life, seemingly slowly and subtly without incident - or in this story, violently and drastically. What happens when those precious perceptions that have been carefully shaped and displayed are received without empathy? What happens when you strip back everything you know up until a point and have to stick your neck out and do something drastic?

Joe is a quiet father, who has come on a sailing trip with his braggish son in an attempt to re-kindle a long lost relationship. He is entering the stage of life where he feels reconciliation is important above all material displays. As a man of the world, he is rooted in humility, but is sometimes passive and new to having to stick his neck on the line.

Ivan’s materialism reflects all he has achieved on his own and he is proud of it. He isn’t going to give anyone an easy ride and in his mind, why should he? He hasn’t had it easy. He believes people should help themselves and life is for the taking. After all - it has served him well.

Afran is a shell-shocked man fleeing a life of turmoil from Kabul to try and find a safer and more prosperous life in the United Kingdom. Having provided for his family for the past 25 years, conflict has forced his hand to make the move, but tragedy has dogged his family’s journey through Europe. By the time he meets Joe and Ivan, he believes he can appeal to their rational judgement - man to man, human being to human being.

Waleed is a bright young man working as a trainee nurse, moving with his family to find a better life in the West. Any doubts about leaving home were dashed when he lost his Mother en route through Europe. Now he washes up in Northern France with his father, two men at hope’s end and lacking any understanding of their next move.

Some of us are fortunate enough to live without ever knowing conflict. Others are not so lucky. So what happens when four individuals from two totally disparate worlds collide headlong into each other?

Although PERSISTENCE confronts political issues, it is not about politics. What we wanted to do is to tell a story about people. It is for the audience to decide how political this film is and the only burning question we'd like our viewers to ask themselves is What would I do?