The Silent Child Produced By UWL Graduate Wins An Oscar

Written by on 9 March 2018

UWL BA (Hons) Film Production 2013 graduate, Rebecca Harris, is now a producer of an Academy Award Winning short, The Silent Child.

The film won best live action short at last nights ceremony in Hollywood, and Rebecca attended the esteemed commemoration with her fellow cast and crew.

Rebecca, 25, was a producer for the Academy Award-winning short film, but this is not the first time Rebecca has received recognition for her work. She has also produced for award-winning short films, Dandelion and The Tooth Fairy.

Rebecca Harris, UWL Film Production graduate and producer of Academy Award short, The Silent Child 

It is truly incredible to see a former UWL student be a part of one of the most prestigious awards in film history. Before beginning her journey as an award-winning producer, Rebecca spoke about her journey at the University of West London, “Studying at UWL helped me work out what I was good at, introduced me to the right people and it definitely gave me the tools to help start off my career.”

Paul Lohneis, Head of the London School of Film, Media and Design, at the University of West London shared his prosperity on hearing the news about Rebecca, “This is great news and we’re absolutely delighted for Rebecca that her film has won this global award. The film she produced is a very worthwhile project which has now been recognised in the best possible way. It is fantastic that the School now has an Oscar winner among its alumni, having come close with a nomination in 2013.”

The short is set in England and is inspired by real-life events. It is based on a profoundly deaf four-year-old girl named Libby. She is born into a middle-class family and has not experienced any form of communication until a devoted social worker teaches Libby how to communicate.

Actress Maisie Sly as Libby in The Silent Child (2017)

Maisie Sly is a profoundly deaf actress, who was born in 2011 in Plymouth. In 2013, Maisie and her family moved to Swindon, for better access to specialist education, for herself and her two siblings. This is Maisie’s first ever acting role and has produced such an astonishing performance in the short.

The Silent Child is Chris Overton’s directorial debut, and before directing, Chris was an actor in various TV shows and films, including The Phantom of the Opera, and British soap, Hollyoaks, which himself and Rachel Shenton acted alongside each other in. This is also Rachel’s screenplay debut and has been yearning for the opportunity to bring the story of The Silent Child to life.

Director, Chris Overton, and writer, Rachel Shenton of Oscar-winning short, The Silent Child

Rachel was inspired to write the film by her father, who suddenly lost his hearing in the last two years of his life. She was then inspired to learned sign language and developed a passion to create a change in the deaf community. Shenton became a qualified British Sign Language Interpreter and an ambassador for the National Deaf Children’s Society.

When giving her acceptance speech, also in sign language, Shenton, expressed the importance of deafness as a disability, “Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence. It’s not exaggerated or sensationalised for the movie.

“This is happening. Millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers, and particularly access to education.

“Deafness is a silent disability. You can’t see it and it’s not life threatening so I want to say the biggest of thank yous to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience.”

Overton also thanked his fiancé, Shenton, during his acceptance speech by saying, “It’s really your hard work for the last 12 years that has really made this project authentic.”

For more information about The Silent Child and all cast and crew, click here.


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