Update: July 2023: The video accompanying this blog is no longer available. It was only available for a limited time. The Body with no face received an audience award at the Boundless Film Festival in May. It is still being shown at film festivals and might become more widely available once these screenings have completed. For more information, please visit April Hook's blog and fundraising page:
***Trigger Warning – This post contains themes relating to traumatic chronic illness and Severe M.E. You may find them disturbing***
A film containing a nightmare scenario about Severe M.E. could become one of the classic short films about the severe form of the illness. The film, called ‘The Body With No Face’. is being given a surprise re-release this week to raise money for the ME Association.
The five-minute short – where the sense of menace is accentuated because there is absolutely no dialogue at all – was commissioned during covid in 2020 by BBC New Creatives, a long-since dissolved scheme aimed at bringing on emerging talent.
It's now been released from BBC exclusivity and the scriptwriter April Hook told us today: “I submitted the script with a younger producer Emmeline Hartley as she fitted the age requirements. Filming took place in July 2021. It was a very long process due to the pandemic restrictions and nearly didn’t get made.”
The film, which has a credits list as long as your arm, premiered at the Boundless Film Festival in London last week. Now it's been released from the grasp of the BBC, it has also been entered into other filmfests. Our hunch is that it will pick up a few awards.
The film is set in a nursing home, where a young woman with ME is bedbound, in the dark and unable to speak. What should be safe space is invaded by a sequence of mysterious intruders, who silently take away her precious possessions, one by one, stripping her room of all she holds dear.
Her hypersensitivites to noise, light, smell, even touch, are completely disregarded. While there’s no dialogue in the film, what makes these times of her torture even more unendurable is the crescendo of invasive noise against which she has no defence at all.
As the intruders become more and more faceless and dehumanised, and her losses more critical, she faces her biggest threat of all – can she hold on to her own humanity?
April, who has had M.E. since 1999, added: “It certainly isn’t a feelgood film. It portrays a traumatic experience and subject matter, which feels extremely exposing but vitally important to share. It’s fictional and yet does portray an experience – albeit in an artistic visual form – of someone with severe ME.
“As someone who’s had severe ME for over 20 years and lived in the dark for years with very severe ME, it’s important to me to see that unseen story I share with many others.”
The Boundless Film Festival have sanctioned its re-release on their platform until Saturday, 13th May – as part of ME Awareness Week. April has asked that people who watch it should donate something to the ME Association, much like moviegoers do when they're buying a ticket to watch a film.