Man: Jesus! I was just talking to you!
Woman: I didn’t ask you to talk to me!
In a sharp black-tiled corporate bathroom, a young woman goes into a stall to change. An innocent and friendly conversation eventuates with a young man on the other side of the door, which rapidly degrades as the tension mounts.
Suspecting that you’re alone in a place where the exit may have been locked is anxiety-inducing, as is realising that you could be accused of harassment and subsequently become a registered sex offender because you had misread a situation. She escapes, but from what? What happens when something is alleged but there are no witnesses, and the ambiguous situation suddenly feels like it is out of the control of both parties. Who is harassing whom?
Inspired by an uncomfortable encounter that actor/director/producer Madeleine Sims-Fewer had with a man on the London tube, she, along with writer Josh Boles and co-director/producer Dusty Mancinelli, turned the idea into a script. What resulted was one tense encounter between two people who cannot see each other.
It is a timely film and a perfect metaphor. Gender politics and miscommunication (along with climate change and discrimination, oh and the Coronavirus) are amongst two of the most problematic issues today. The #metoo movement, initially started in 2006 by Tarana Burke, was a platform to give young women, particularly young women of colour, a sense of empowerment. Ten years later it went from underground to Hollywood and a groundswell emerged.
Harassment that had been belittled, ignored and disbelieved was now recognised, and hooray for that. WOMAN IN STALL has created an accurate picture of the angst related to personal space and harassment, as well as the resulting ambiguity when conversation and friendliness are misunderstood, miscommunicated or used to abuse.
The film is a clever tale of what happens when people may be getting things slightly wrong. Did I mention Adam Crosby’s stylish cinematographic contribution to the rising friction? I guarantee an interesting post-film discussion will ensue.
After a very successful time on the festival circuit including winning the Narrative Shorts Grand Jury Prize (2019 Slamdance Film Festival), DM Productions have received funding for their first feature film. Have a look at their site to see what they’re up to: www.dmfilms.com
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