Lofty ambitions could put award-winning film in contention for Oscar

PUBLISHED: 08:07 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:07 07 June 2019

Jolie Lennon, Benjamin Hartley and Richard and Rachel Prendergast after winning at Cannes

Jolie Lennon, Benjamin Hartley and Richard and Rachel Prendergast after winning at Cannes


A film inspired by a letter found in the glove compartment of a car has just won a Best Short Film award at Cannes - after winning a string of other international awards last year.

The letter, found by the car's new owner, led to the movie, which is called Sylvia, after the name of the car, produced by a team from Saffron Walden and Norwich.

The film was acted in by theatrical agent Benjamin Hartley, from Saffron Walden, whose normal day job is as a specialist casting agent.

Mr Hartley finds people for roles as military or police personnel, whose real life experience means they are familiar with the bearing of armed police officers or soldiers and know how to use the weapons.

His own film role was a first departure into acting.

The lead actress was Jolie Lennon and the film was directed by co-producer, Richard Prendergast.

This was Hartley and Prendergast's first film and the latest award, at Cannes, the most prestigious of the international film festivals, was given at the Emerging Filmmakers Showcase at the American Pavilion.

The 16-minute long movie has now been chosen for the Palm Springs International ShortFest this month, which is the biggest Short Film Festival in North America.

The film was premiered in the UK at Bafta (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts).

Since its release, it has been selected for a number of film festivals across the world.

Last year, it won awards at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, The London Independent Film Awards, The Sydney Indie Film Festival, The TriForce Festival at the British Film Institute on the Southbank in London, The Overcome Festival in California and the Norwich Film Festival (for Best East Anglian Film).

Mr Hartley said: "Our lofty ambitions for the film would be an Oscar nomination, though clearly this is somewhat of a long shot. But the film is very strong and has had some excellent reviews.

"We are currently developing two feature film scripts, and we will be looking to raise finance in the coming months as Sylvia continues its festival season."

To qualify for an Oscar nomination, short films have to first qualify at a series of film festivals.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Saffron Walden Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Saffron Walden Reporter