Watch Previous Festival Films!
Sheffield Shorts 2020
Fiction // Drama
Interview with director Libby Burke Wilde
Firstly, tell us about the film and what inspired you to make it?
Absent was made for the charity Freedom4girls. It is a charity I have known and respected for a long time. It is run by the producer of Absent’s mum (Tina), so I have followed their hard work for a number of years now. We spoke about making a film in 2018 and it took until July 2019 to find the right story, actors and crew to become the film it is.
A lot of people don’t know period poverty exists in the UK, let alone how prevalent it is. There is also so much stigma still attached to periods in general it makes it hard for people to talk about period poverty. This has to stop. Children are missing school every month as a direct result of period poverty, which just exacerbates the difference in education for those that can afford and those that can’t.
Myself, Lucy (writer), Harvey (producer) and Tina (freedom4girls) spent a long time thinking we were going to be making a 30 second commercial for the charity. We wanted our message to be clear and concise as dwindling attention spans can mean your message isn’t getting out. However, we soon realised there were so many important stories to be told and 30 seconds just wasn’t a long enough time frame to get the nuance across.
How important was it for you to create a film surrounding the issue of period poverty? Do you feel it isn’t spoken about enough?
As a woman in the fortunate position of having a platform I really have to strive to make films that have a social message. Period poverty is astoundingly prevalent in the UK and no one talks about it. It is impacting children’s education and sets back young girls before they are even given a chance. The silence around periods in general is a big part of the problem. When researching this film I found the stats shocking, and when I spoke to peers about the figures a lot of them didn’t even know period poverty was ‘a thing’ in the UK.
When we made the film, there was mounting pressure on the government to provide free menstrual products to schools. Thankfully they relented and now most schools are provided with these basic products. However, poverty in the UK is at an all time high and with lots of schools being disrupted by Covid the issue still stands.
Finally, what are you working on next? Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I have just put out a new short film called Tinned Pears. It was made with the charity Chefs In Schools and was part of the #endchildfoodpoverty campaign. Other than that I am currently waiting to see if my next short has been given BFI funding and on the hunt for script writers to collaborate with!