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MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK 18-24 May: One film a day chosen by writer/director Deborah Haywood

We asked one of our favourite filmmakers, Deborah Haywood to pick one film a day in response to Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May); the theme of which is “kindness.” We are starting the ball rolling with Deborah’s acclaimed feature debut

PIN CUSHION Here’s Deborah’s candid, and deeply moving account of what inspired her to tell this story – described by Empire as: “A moving meditation on what it feels like to be different.”  Deborah Haywood: “I took my first antidepressants at around age 14/15, well after I got bullied by a group of girls in the year above me at school. They made my life hell for a couple of years, and it haunted/affected my life and my mental health for a really long time. It can still trip me up now. I dreaded going to school and I’d hide in the toilets at break times to avoid them. One time they held me on the school bus, past my stop. The whole bus was watching and they were holding me on the stairs, attacking me and laughing, name calling etc. I burn with humiliation when I think of it. But, just as the bus came to yet another stop I wouldn’t be allowed to get off at, one girl in their gang grabbed hold of me and pulled me off the bus with her.  She took me into her house (which was handily outside the bus stop) and her dad walked me home. I never forgot that piece of kindness. Not only was it a really kind act, but she also risked the wrath of her friends.   After our film Pin Cushion came out she contacted me, and I told her I’d based the character of Chelsea on her. The film is about bullying, but I wanted the hope and resolution to come out of kindness. She was really moved, and remembered the bus incident.  Because of her, I’ve always tried to be kind. Since lockdown I’ve been looking out for my elderly neighbour, who’s dying of cancer. It has really reminded me that the act of being kind, as well as receiving kindness, does wonders for mental health.”

Look out for Deborah’s second choice tomorrow.

WHERE TO WATCH Pin Cushion  “Like a cross between a crocheted bunny and a nail bomb.”  The Observer

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