Private Project

The Refuge

Eva, a young reserved girl, arrives at the Refuge, a woman's aid centre run by Mrs Kane. There she is introduced to the other girls who greet her with mistrust and distance. The strict rules of the household are explained and Eva's new life begins in a pressing feeling of entrapment. The story is charged with fear, love, tension and hope. The Refuge is threatened by government cuts in funding that would leave the girls, homeless. Until they unite in a final act of protest.

The film features the actress Lujza Richter Hugo known for her role as "Princess Mona Braganza" next to Daniel Day-Lewis in "Phantom Thread" by Paul Thomas Anderson and the TV series "Dracula".

Her co-star is the international model Demi Hannah Scott known for her constant work at SHOWstudio with Nick Knight, her worldwide campaign for Uniqlo, Fenty Puma, Gareth Pugh and so on.

The film is directed, written and produced by the Venezuelan born British filmmaker and photographer: Maria Millan. Her talent lies in breath-takingingly beautiful storytelling, as she utilises the subtle art of tension. Her fashion videos and pictures effortlessly bring buried emotion and sentiment to the surface. You can find her intriguing work in Vogue Italia, Jute, Fruk and Ellements Magazine amongst others.
Millan also has a background as a Production Designer for TV ads. She also led the Production Design for the film "Chop Chop" by Christopher Granier-Deferre.
Millan is now developing her first feature movie -also female lead-, and a short film starring Tim Pritchett.

The Refuge had a solo guest screening +Q&A at SILENCIO, The David Lynch’s Private Members Club, won an award for best short in the Social Machinery Film Festival in Italy, is part of the official selection of The Women’s Film Festival in the US and the L’Etrange Film Festival in Paris, 2018.

“Maria Millan definitely shows up her directing skills. The Refuge is a very moving piece,” says Anthony Fawcett, art consultant and writer.

Based on true stories, The Refuge sheds light on the fact that women are being marginalized instead of being accepted into society especially when being in crisis.

Tackling gender disparity in an often-frightening world dictated by money and male ego, The Refuge holds a mirror to the contemporary misogyny that is having tragic implications for real lives.

  • Maria Millan
    Izzy and Matias.
  • Maria Millan
  • Maria Millan
  • Demi Hannah Scott
    Key Cast
    "New Space" by Nick Knight. "The worst crime is faking it by Nick Knight". "New Happiness · Love Chaos" by Nick Knight.
  • Lujza Richter
    Key Cast
    Phanton Thread by Paul Thomas Anderson. "Princess Mona Braganza"
  • Tommy Antonio
    Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, Pigeon English, Stitch in Time, Calais Carol and Focus.
  • Juan Luis Carmona
    Sound Design
    "Volver", "All about my Mother" and "The Bad Education" by Pedro Almodovar. "The Other" by Alejandro Amenabar
  • Adrian Wolfon
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, thriller
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 59 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2018
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • The Women's Film Festival
    United States
    March 17, 2018
    East Coast Premiere
    Drama Short Film
  • Silencio, The David Lynch's Private Members Club.
    October 26, 2018
  • L'Etrange Film Festival
    September 12, 2018
    French Pemiere.
  • Social Machinery Film Festival
    September 7, 2018
    Premiere for Italy
    Awarded: Best Short
Distribution Information
  • Gonella Productions- NON EXCLUSIVE
    Sales Agent
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Maria Millan

Maria Millan is a Venezuelan/ British film director and Fashion Photographer. She holds a BA Honours in Communications Science and Media & a specialization in Audio- Visual Arts. Her experience starts in the art department where she worked as a production designer for TV ads for clients like L'Oreal, CVS, Mr Muscle, Mac Donalds among others. She also produced a TV Series called "The Adventures of Sifo Diaz".
Millan moved to London in 2011 where her love for photography and fashion came to life delivering stills to Vogue Italia, Cosmopolitan, Fruk Magazine, Funckin' Young, Jute, Eclectic Magazine among others.
She also led the Production Design for the film "Chop Chop" by Christopher Granier-Deferre.
In 2012 Millan was selected to be part of an art residency at the prestigious organisation “District 789” in Beijing, China, that ended with an installation about synesthesia in the ‘Contemporary Art Fair 2012’ in China. Additionally, her images have been included in the ‘Story of Creativity’ (2012) and ‘Creative’s rising’ (2013) exhibitions in New York City.
She directed actress Lujza Richter Hugo (Phantom Thread), and Demi Hannah Scott (SHOWstudio) in her film "The Refuge", part of the official selection of The Women’s Film Festival in the US, L’Etrange Film Festival in Paris, and winner of “Best Short” in the Social Machinery Film Festival in Italy.
Millan was also invited to have a solo screening and Q&A at the David Lynch's Private Members Club: Silencio.
“The Style of Illusion” one of her Fashion Films commissioned by Fruk magazine is now part of the LA Fashion Film Festival.
In 2018, she was invited to be part of a panel within London Fashion Week SS18 discussing the role of Creatives in the Fashion Industry.
She is currently working in a LGBTQIA+ feature documentary film and has finished writing her first screenplay.
Maria Millan aims with her work to call attention to the role of women within the society, especially in the filmmaking industry.

Here you can find some of her work as a set designer:

'Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.' Einstein

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see".

Henry David Thoreau

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Director Statement

Women are so easily considered neurotics. We live in 2019 and we still fighting for equality. Our system is designated to judge and punish the ones that are already beaten instead of trying to understand and help. Women raise children on their own, work full time and still get marginalized as soon as they show any sign of weakness.
People tell you what to do when a stranger hurt you, but nobody tells you what to do when someone you love does it. You find yourself knowing that you are physically able to claim onto your dreams, but without really caring if you don’t because you feel out of yourself.
I tried to illustrate that feeling of staring through the window, seeing the raindrop fall from the leaves, the polluted sky, the quietness, the tension and the silent.