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LFF Women Directors: Meet Corinna McFarlane – ‘The Silent Storm’

LFF Women Directors: Meet Corinna McFarlane - 'The Silent Storm'

On a remote Scottish island in the 1950s, Aislin (Andrea Riseborough) lives with her minister husband Balor (Damian Lewis). He is a man of sudden and violent mood swings and stern religiosity. Aislin finds consolation from his attitude of wrathful disapproval in the stark beauty of the surrounding countryside. With the other islanders leaving for the mainland in droves, the couple are joined by a Glaswegian youth (Ross Anderson), entrusted to their care by a religious charity. Balor is initially suspicious of him, but Aislin recognises a kindred spirit in this sensitive young man, and their relationship deepens when her husband has to leave the island.

Marking Corinna McFarlane’s feature debut after her co-directed 2006 documentary Three Miles North of Molkom, this domestic melodrama is a tale of sweeping emotions and grandly realized landscapes, featuring full-blooded performances from Riseborough and Lewis. (Tricia Tuttle for LFF)

The Silent Storm will play at the London Film Festival on October 14 and 19.

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

CMF: The Silent Storm is a tempestuous romance, a modern folk tale set amidst the wilds of the Scottish Highlands.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

CMF: My father was orphaned in Glasgow as a boy. A few years ago, he became unwell. Faced with this situation, I immediately felt this overwhelming call to discover Scotland and the echoes of my ancestors in the landscape. I was reading a lot of Jung and exploring archetypes and mythology at the time. The Silent Storm is a result of this process. My father has since thankfully recovered.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

CMF: The biggest challenge in making the film was raising the finance and holding on to the steadfast belief that the film had to be made in the face of the glass ceilings.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?

CMF: I’d like people to feel the empowerment of being part of a changing world, where patriarchy and conventional religions can and must have their limitations admitted and moved beyond for the sake of society, women, and our planet.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

CMF: Find a producer you trust. Never give up. Laugh off the doubters. 

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

CMF: I can tell you that I have a team around me now that knows and understands me very well. This has been paramount to getting this film made. There have been many along the way who have just seen a young woman with a loud laugh and have just not given me the time of day, thinking I was somebody’s wife, girlfriend, or the director’s PA.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? 

CMF: A combination of private equity, gap, the UK tax credit, and some regional funding from the Film Agency for Wales. 

W&H: Name your favorite women directed film and why.

CMF: The Piano by Jane Campion. This film changed my life as a child seeing it for the first time. From that moment on, I knew that, even though I was a girl, I could embark on a career in film and dream big. 

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