The amazing journey of suicide prevention film 'Dear Stranger'

10 Jul 2019

8 mins
The amazing journey of suicide prevention film 'Dear Stranger'

We are very excited to present a new short film, Dear Stranger, made by science teacher Ranw Aso-Rashid and a variety of different students and partners. From crowd-funding to a major premiere and Q&A at BAFTA, the film has enjoyed an incredible journey and it is well worth checking out the full story below on how it came together.

Our films, like Dear Stranger, are intended to be bold and thought provoking. They are intended to shed light on important issues that matter to everyone, in particular our youth.

Writer, co-producer & Director, Ranw Aso-Rashid

Dear Stranger follows Annabelle, a young girl at risk of committing suicide amidst the bullying and isolation she falls victim to. As she attempts yet again to commit suicide, she encounters people who remind her of the meaning of life through reassurance.

The film was written, co-produced & Directed by Ranw who teaches at Friern Barnet School. In terms of young people's involvement, it was a cross-collaboration between students from two academic institutions in Northern London - Friern Barnet School & Woodhouse College - as well as students at Westminster University (where Ranw and producer, Saadan Shaikh attended). Here, the students gained experience in every stage of the production process, with some taking lead acting roles, some working with the award-winning film crew, some composing the film's music and a number of GCSE Business Studies students choosing to get involved with the marketing, promotion and distribution phase of the film.

Dear Stranger is also the fourth project from AR films, an independent company whose purpose is to make films with an important message, help provide a voice to young storytellers and support those intending to gain experience and understanding of film production. Their films have now played in a number of international film festivals, from LA to New York and Amsterdam.

From the beginning, the film's team was hugely successful in building momentum and distinguishing itself from other similar productions. During the initial funding push, many significant figures lent their support, including Producer Jane Frazer at the new London Screen Academy. Meanwhile, the team managed to secure a major premiere at BAFTA on 15 June, which was attended by over 200 people and included an extensive Q&A hosted by London Real's Brian Rose. The event aimed to raise awareness of the various pressing issues explored in the film but also to celebrate the extraordinary work of everyone involved, particularly the students.

Incredible experience for the children, teachers, school leaders and parents as well as some well-known industry people to maximise the students' professional exposure. It was a first for BAFTA to engage in this way with a state school. A truly inclusive event.

Ranw Aso-Rashid on Dear Stranger's premiere

This has been a terrific night to showcase the many talents of the young students involved. By premiering at BAFTA we are showing that we are ambitious in our approach and how much we value the work that we create and the people we work with.

Co-producer Saadan Shaikh on Dear Stranger's premiere

This is certainly not the last we'll be hearing from Ranw and AR films as they currently have two additional shorts in the pipeline and are planning a feature film for next summer. Meanwhile, if you're feeling inspired to make your own film with your students, submissions are now open for the 2020 Into Film Awards.

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