Sunday is the new short film by London based writer Daisy Stenham, who following the success of her first short Don't Burn the Breakfast (2016), is gearing up to promote her most recent filmic artwork. Sunday tells the story of the breakdown in a marriage, navigating the couples tested relationship within the domestic setting. We meet Fergus and Matilda in their family home on the evening of their final meal together, a dinner at which they plan to tell their children. Stenham explains to coeval magazine; I was interested in exploring the nuances of a broken down marriage and how the shifting lines between anger and tenderness, bitterness and grief, all play out.
During the film we see the couple prepare for an elaborate dinner party, stirring up the familiar yet corrosive spaces that simmer in things left unsaid;
I think there's something very interesting about the aftershock of a dramatic event and exploring those quieter moments where unsaid tension is left to stir. Film has the ability to magnify the minutia and so I find it the perfect medium in which to play with the unsaid. I also think there is an interesting fragility and inherent drama in those moments in life where someone or something is on cusp of great change. I saw a wonderful French film 'After Love', written and directed by Joachim Lafosse, which is about a couple who decide to get divorce after fifteen years of marriage but are forced to live in the same house with their children. I thought the decision to focus on this specific in-between moment, bookended by huge change, was very compelling.
Food plays one of, if not the key role in Sunday, as each shot relentlessly examines the extravagant spread that will be included in the ‘last supper’ (so to speak) of this nuclear family. Drawn to food for not just its visceral impact but also for how it can be subverted, Sunday navigates how quickly it can change from something luxurious, salubrious and welcoming to something messy, ugly and repulsive. Ultimately, food becomes a visual metaphor for the breakdown of the character's marriage: the dinner starts to collapse around them as they start to collapse within each other.
The films aesthetic, worthy of Vogue editorial, is thanks to Stenham’s collaboration with artist and designer Luke Edward Hall, who is credited as Sunday’s Art Director. Hall is known for his illustrations that include portraits and patterns drawing heavily from the beautiful Greco-Roman boys and glamorous lives of the 1920s and 30s. Here we see his vision adapted to fit the screenplay in a way that is generously representative of both his distinct aesthetic paired with that of Stenham’s directorial vision;
I had a lot of fun building this visual world with Luke. His attention to detail and instinct for style is remarkable. From diner plates, to espresso cups, to ashtrays, we used a lot of his own belongings as props which made the set feel distinctly him. Luke's influence was really felt on every level – whether it was costume sourcing, set dressing, making me a three tiered birthday or a paper mache 'under the sea' mobile for a child's bedroom – there was nothing he couldn't do! From the outset I really wanted Sunday's aesthetic to be shaped by him and so it was a very harmonious experience to collaborate.
For a low budget film, Stenham manages to achieve a filmic piece of art with an impressively high production value. She credits this success to her heavily female dominated team;
I was very lucky to have such a talented and hardworking team (from the crew to the producers, to everyone involved in the post-production ) who went above and beyond to make such a strong final product. I was especially grateful to have such fantastic gang of producers: Romy Waller, Kitty Wordsworth, and Nkem Egbuchiri who really were the driving force to make Sunday happen. It also goes without saying that the generosity we received from our crowdfunding page was overwhelming and I am truly grateful to everyone who allowed us the opportunity to make this film.
The subtle, yet poignantly dark comedy, generously offers its viewer a satisfying visceral experience in which a family situation unfolds that is all to familiar to its contemporary audience. Its dysfunctional yet stylish and mature aesthetic is both satisfying and relatable. Sunday will be premiered in the UK festival circuit at the end of the Summer.
words LARA MONRO
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