Director Marley Morrison tells DIVA about this “uplifting and joyful” feature film

BY NADIA DAVIES

A refreshing take on the classic coming-of-age story, Marley Morrison’s first feature stars Jo Hartley (In My Skin, This Is England), Nell Barlow (Doctor Thorne) and The Stranger’s Ella-Rae Smith. We had a chat with Marley to find out more.

Describe your film in three words

Awkward, nostalgic, summer.

What inspired you to make the film?

I wanted to make an uplifting film about what happens after a young lesbian has “come out”. Highlighting the nuances and painfully honest family relations that a young gay female has to navigate. I also wanted to make something that the young queer community could relate to and specifically for young lesbians to see themselves reflected on screen. A lot of what we see on screen is LGBT+ people suffering or dealing with trauma. I always liked the idea that people could see a queer story that is uplifting and joyful.

What does screening at BFI Flare mean to you?

I have spent years watching films at BFI Flare and consider it a huge part of my filmmaking journey so to be screening my first feature there is amazing. I’m hugely grateful to everyone at BFI for the support.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this story?

I hope people enjoy the film and it brings back some old memories of British summer time. Mostly I hope people feel uplifted after seeing it and understand that queer cinema can be fun and joyful.

Why is it important that queer films and documentaries are showcased every year at an event like this?

To see yourself reflected on screen is intrinsic to your sense of self. It is important that queer creators are given the space and support to tell their stories and the public have an opportunity to see them.

BFI Flare is completely online this year, giving everyone across the UK the opportunity to watch the amazing line-up of films available. How important is accessibility with regards to representation on screen?

I think the landscape has changed so much that in some ways the rise of online has made these films more accessible to a younger generation. For people that may not be able to attend the festivals it is a great way for them to still feel a part of it. Having accessible queer films online will help people feel seen all across the country.

What are your words of advice for any aspiring queer filmmakers/actors?

Start before you are ready.

How has the pandemic impacted you creatively?

I’ve recently discovered that I’m finding new ways to be inspired, although that does mean that I’m spending a lot more time looking at screens. I generally write from home so I’m fairly lucky in that respect as the pandemic hasn’t massively interrupted my work.

Who is your LGBTIQ+ screen hero? (Actor/director/producer etc)

Dan Levy, for his ability to combine comedy and drama in an honest and authentic way.

Other than buying tickets for BFI Flare, how can people best support independent queer media?

Follow your favourite writer/directors online via social media. Watch Queer-led TV shows/films to help audience numbers, thus increasing the demand for Queer content.

SWEETHEART plays as part of the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival until 28 March and will be released in the UK by Peccadillo Pictures later this year. 

DIVA magazine celebrates 27 years in print in 2021. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another 27. Your support is invaluable. 

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