On The Cusp, Longlist - Short Film - Non Fiction

Motherland

Ellen Evans

Ellen Evans

As someone who spent my early 20s working as an immigration caseworker, I had long known about the injustices of the British immigration system. But when the Windrush Scandal broke in 2018, I was floored. Hundreds of Black Britons, many of whom had arrived in the UK as children, and had lived in Britain for decades, were being illegally detained and deported by the Home Office. When I was commissioned in 2019 by The Uncertain Kingdom to make a short film about the UK today - I knew I wanted to explore this story. It seemed to me to be the perfect lens to examine the idea of “Britishness”, and question who gets to decide. We extended the scope of the film to explore how the Hostile Environment policy affects younger generations; how the Home Office regularly deports young men with criminal convictions to places they haven’t lived since early childhood, often separating them from their British partners and children in the process. As a mixed-race person of Malaysian heritage, my own ancestry is steeped in British/Commonwealth migration policies - and this is a subject I feel, to some degree, personally connected to and concerned by. I certainly hope that our film, and the voices in our film, are able to contribute to the wider conversation re: what it means to be British, and who gets to decide.

Ellen Evans is a documentary filmmaker. Her short films have screened internationally at festivals such as Sundance, SXSW and Hot Docs, and on public broadcasting channels including PBS and the BBC. Her first film - LIFE IN MINIATURE – played at Sundance, and went on to win at Aspen ShortsFest qualifying it for Academy Award consideration in 2019. In 2019, Ellen was funded by BFI Doc Society to make COUNTRY GIRL as part of their “Made of Truth” shorts scheme. The film was nominated for the International Short Film prize at Hot Docs, and won the 2020 Grierson Award for Best Documentary Short. Ellen completed her most recent film, MOTHERLAND as part of The Uncertain Kingdom anthology. The film was released in June 2020 to excellent reviews from The Financial Times, The Evening Standard and The Guardian. Ellen has been supported by Film Roundhouse as an 'Emerging Artist', by the Indie Training Fund as a 'Rising Director' and was a member of the 2019 BAFTA Crew. Ellen teaches on the MFA Creative Documentary by Practice at University College London. She is working on her first feature.