Directed by: #LaurenGill
Breaking the Silence combines fact and fiction to explore an issue that is particularly relevant in the UK right now: sexual harassment against women. A five-minute scene of a man sitting on a BBC-esque sofa, waiting for the cameras to role as the crew set up microphones and deliver coffee, is accompanied by a narration of female voices. These voices tell a few stories of sexual harassment and assault, repeating sentences and overlapping one another, drawing upon instances involving male store managers, husbands and fathers, and even college tutors.
The man (Kay) dominates the scene from the start, and close-ups show his smiling face whilst the details of a sexual assault are narrated conversationally. The newsroom scene isn’t heard or explained, nor is the context of Kay’s character known, but his role is clear. He is a man in power; like the store manager; like the college tutor. When the scene breaks free of its silence right at the end, however, it is the female news-presenter (Hanke) who speaks and starts the conversation as the narration pauses. The scene almost feels detached from the narrated voices until that moment, but the overall point isn’t lost.
The final text on-screen confirms the stories told by the girls are real, forging a stronger impact on the audience as the acting is led by a truth. The narration of multiple voices, uncomfortably overlapping like a whirlwind of panicky thoughts in one’s head during a bad situation (such as the girls experiences), has this impact right from the beginning of the film until the very end. It leaves a lingering after-thought, definitely achieving what this film set out to do; it breaks the silence and starts a conversation.
Clever shots line up with the spoken words: as one girl speaks of her tutor grabbing her breast, the man on-screen grabs the hand of the female crew member. It connects the two; despite the roles of teacher/student and Kay’s character with the crew member being different, the power abuse is the same. This is the strongest part of the film, as it’s that exact moment that the audience gains clarity of the connection between image and spoken word, hitting home their message and leaving an impression.
This film was clearly written with a definitive message in mind and created with a passion for furthering the conversation many women are now speaking out about online. It’s important, relevant, and artistic as it utilises the visual space well in combination with faceless voices. Despite the initial confusion with what the role of Kay and Hanke, it became clear when understood in relation to the powerful voices.