Synopsis: A young family have just moved into their new home. With everything still in boxes, they spend the morning in slow time: playing and laughing together. Wearing nothing but an empty box on his head, father Jonas chases his naked 3-year-old son Otto through the living room, much to the amusement of mother Marie, also naked, on the sofa.
A few doors down, neighbour Margaret is getting ready to greet the new arrivals on her road with a home-baked cake. As the game next door builds in excitement, we watch Margaret make her way down the road to knock on their front door. When nobody answers, Margaret boldly enters through the back garden and steps inside the house. A scene of peak bacchanalia unfolds before her.
Time stops. Both parties stare at each other like animals in a zoo. Then Marie takes a tentative step forward to signal a hello. Margaret responds, but suddenly everyone is painfully aware of their situation. With an awkward shuffle, Margaret leaves the kitchen the same way she came.
We leave both parties digesting what has just happened. How did they all get here? Where was the line? And who overstepped it? How will they possibly find common ground after what happened?
From A Strange Land poses the timely question of how we can make ourselves understood in moments of real tension. Are we able to re-build bridges when a line has been irrevocably crossed? How tolerant are we really? This short looks to raise these points in a non-confrontational way and bring its audience along for the ride.
Deborah Findlay (Margaret)
Matthew Needham (Jonas)
‘From A Strange Land’ is a project very close to my heart. The film is based on a true story that happened to my parents and two older brothers (then 3 and 5 years old) over 40 years ago. The images that this family tale evokes have been with me for as long as I can remember, and I always promised myself that if I ever had the opportunity to make a short film, this story would be it. I am delighted that we have come this far.
Up until now I have been working solely as a theatre director. My work has taken me to some of the countries most famed and revered stages. I have made productions for the National Theatre, Royal Court, Shakespeare’s Globe, Sheffield Theatres and Manchester Royal Exchange to name just a few. I have won numerous awards for my work, including the JMK award for outstanding theatre directors. Over the past twenty years I have honed my skills in telling stories, collaboration and working alongside some of the nation’s finest performers, writers and designers.
Not only is ‘From A Strange Land’ a passion project; it is a point of departure in my career trajectory to date. I intend to take this experience as a jumping-off point to make more stories for the screen, to write and direct and continue to hone my craft of working with actors. I want to build a future in film and TV alongside my work in the theatre. This project has taken me one step closer to reaching my goal, and I can see that my skills and level of experience makes this transition entirely possible.
On its surface ‘From A Strange Land’ is a comedy: we witness the collision of two worlds when a young family are surprised by a well-meaning neighbour. As the film unfolds however, we begin to ask questions. How do we connect with people? Can we make ourselves understood in moments of real tension? Are we able to re-build bridges when a line has been irrevocably crossed? How can we accept cultural differences and learn tolerance? To me all these questions deeply reflect the times we are living in at present. This film hopes to raise them in a non-confrontational way and bring its audience along for the ride.
Caroline is a freelance theatre director and dramaturge, represented by Casarotto Ramsay. She is currently Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres.
Caroline was born in Munich and now lives in London with her family. She studied at the London University of Royal Holloway and completed her MA at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
In 2009 Caroline won the prestigious JMK Award for Outstanding Directors. She directed Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest. Her production Fatherland was invited to the Radikal Jung Festival in Munich in 2011.
Her production of Brilliant Adventures won the prize for Best Studio Production at the Manchester Theatre Awards in 2013.
Rutherford and Son which Caroline directed for the Sheffield Crucible was in at number 7 in the top ten list of theatre plays of 2019 by the Guardian.
Caroline was International Associate at the Royal Court Theatre from 2011-2013.