Luton artist's film 'Where are you from?' debuts on BBC Four tonight

A Luton artist is proud to have her powerful film featured on BBC Four this evening, as it raises questions about identity and belonging.

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 4:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th March 2020, 6:34 pm

Visual artist Sophie Gresswell, 28, was commissioned by BBC arts and Arts Council England to develop a short film which she has written and animated called 'Where are you from?'.

The piece will be broadcast as part of a program on emerging female filmmakers, and Sophie is hoping her home town will tune in and support her work.

She said: "The film is a personal look at identity, being mixed race British and struggling to answer the question 'Where are you from?'

Where are you from?

"It's a kind of personal story about my interpretation of how to answer it, and features myself and some of my family.

"I am British; I grew up in Luton and lived here all my life, but my mum's half South African and half Saint Helenian and my dad is British.

"It's about the struggle to answer that question; we are all from everywhere so in a sense it's obsolete."

She added: "The film looks across three generations. I narrate the film and it takes us through the experiences of a Grandpa, a mother and finally a daughter and their individual but interconnected experiences."

Sophie applied to be part of the BBC's New Creatives project, and filming took place from the summer until October. She was supported by organisations in Luton such as the University of Bedfordshire and 'Little Red Creative Studios', which was the location for the last scene in the film.

It was quite a family affair, as Sophie's cousin directed the film, while her 95-year-old grandfather is also featured.

Sophie said "In the times that we're living a lot of people are trying to isolate and be patriotic and that could be quite damaging. I am conscious that people need to talk about this subject area because our past history informs where we are now. I'm quite interested in looking at the effects of empire.

"The film is also a personal look at questions of identity, at a time where migration, political isolation and reclaiming history are important topics of discussion I wanted to start a dialogue about the identities we choose and ask the question: 'Is it important to look to your own past in order to better respond to wider issues present today?'

Sophie is a multidisciplinary artist and uses a mix of traditional painting, animation, technology and audio. Residents may recognise her name as one of the members from the Colour the Town project in Luton.

She has also produced animations for Shemiza Rashid's 'Mother Monologues, resisting austerity' and is currently working on creating some poetry and visual artwork to link to her experiences of being an inpatient in hospital after having recently had spinal surgery.

To watch 'Where are you from?' as part of 'Female Filmmakers: BBC Introducing Arts' tune into BBC Four at 11pm tonight (March 5) or catch up on iPlayer.

Describing the programme, the BBC Four website, states: "Celebrating the next generation of female filmmakers, these short films from BBC Introducing Arts are all made by women.

"Presented by Janina Ramirez, these talented, emerging artists use comedy, drama and dance to tell stories from a contemporary female perspective."