Scottish short film selected for Cannes

"Obviously it's amazing," says director Rory Alexander Stewart.

by Jennie Kermode

Emma Curtis as Joan in Wild Horses
Emma Curtis as Joan in Wild Horses

One of the things that makes the Cannes Film Festival stand out from the crowd is its focus on undiscovered talent. This year, a 27 year old filmmaker from Leith is among those whose short films will be showcased on the Croisette, after being selected from over 2,000 applications.

"I actually found out about a month ago now," director Rory Alexander Stewart told Eye For Film. "I was in Belgium at the time and I got a mysterious phone call saying it was from the festival. It felt really weird. It wasn't something I had foreseen happening."

The film, Wild Horses, is about a girl called Joan who is housebound by ME (chronic fatigue syndrome), and was inspired by one of Stewart's close friends. "She has a lot of stories," he said, explaining how he tried to make a key scene, where Joan travels on a bus, feel like a rollercoaster ride. "The first time [my friend] went on a bus after she recovered it was with me, and she told me that she was terrified the whole time, whereas to me it was just another bus ride."

Joan's relationship with her overprotective mother is at the core of the film. "I had a really great casting director, Leanne Flinn, and we did the classic thing where we auditioned a whole load of people, and then we found Emma [Curtis] and Emma [Cater]. It was one of those roles where what really mattered was their relationship so they had to have that chemistry and seem like they could be related."

Stewart will be going to Cannes to promote the film, but hasn't yet mastered the mercenary approach take by many filmmakers in his situation. "I just want as many people as possible to see it, around the world," he told us.

This is his seventh short film, but having just completed a degree at the National Film and Television School in Buckinghamshire, he hopes to go into the business full time. "I'm hopefully going to be developing a feature this year. I'm just at the very beginning of that. It's based on a previous short called In The Grass about a detective who kills his partner and then tries to blame it on a serial killer."

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