Debbie Howard’s Still Loved is a powerful, sensitively made feature length documentary showing what families really go through when they lose a baby. The film, launching this October in Baby Loss Awareness Month, is being screened in cinemas across the country.
Stillbirth is still a sensitive subject and one the media industry is wary of. Debbie told us that before she started filming a prominent film festival producer told her:
'No one will show this film. It’s too depressing.'
Undeterred, Debbie described how his attitude actually spurred her on and made her more determined to break the silence.
Debbie began work on the film four years ago, following the completion of her short film Peekaboo, about one couple’s struggle to get over the trauma of stillbirth. Working on this short film made Debbie feel the need for a feature documentary showing other families real stories, so she began work on Still Loved.
Still Loved features seven different families. One of them, Beth and Steve Morris, raised thousands of pounds for Tommy's during the Born Silently Cycle Challenge, which is featured in the film.
Debbie told us that, despite the highly acclaimed production team, the film is still facing closed doors at cinemas.
'I was outraged at a particular cinema who said that given the subject matter, they didn’t feel they could charge for a screening, but were willing to show it in their lounge for nothing, if we wanted to give it to them for free. I replied asking her why she thought it was OK to show and charge for documentaries about all kinds of other difficult subjects but not baby loss.
This isn’t about us making money, we will never make a profit out of this film, we still owe a lot of money to investors and any profits will help towards those costs.
Parents that have lost babies have been silenced for a long time. The point of making the film was to raise awareness and understanding. Parents that have lost a baby know what it is like to live through this. We want people who have no understanding to see the film too, otherwise attitudes won’t change and no one will learn anything.
Thankfully, we’ve now been offered a proper screening in the cinema, but at an 8pm slot in a proper screen where anyone can buy a ticket.
I’m glad that we made this point. It’s important. This isn’t a subject that should be marginalised. With one in four pregnancies ending in a loss, it’s so important to break the silence around stillbirth and baby loss.'
Another cinema offered Still Loved a matinee screening at an unpopular time and refused to let allow the Q&A afterwards as they claimed, “there is no interest in this”. For Debbie this was yet another sign that the subject is being silence, denying anyone who wants to talk about their loss or ask questions after the film screening the opportunity.
The team have battled away since completing the film to get it screened in film festivals, on television and in cinemas. At Edinburgh Film Festival this year, they teamed up with Miracle Communications who are booking their cinema tour across the UK.
They are aiming for independent cinemas where the film will screen for one night only, followed by a Q&A with the Still Loved panel. This will give people an opportunity to ask questions and find out more after the film.
Debbie told us they are still facing lot of rejections though, based entirely on the subject matter.
“Many programmers won’t even watch the film, they just say no.”
The team are still fighting on and the first screenings are being confirmed now. In order to bring the film to cinemas around the country they really need your support because this comes at a big cost.
Would you like to support this documentary by making a donation, however small, to get this Still Loved into cinemas across the country?
Watch the film trailer at Still Loved’s website here
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Today, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology (RCOG) published their latest Each Baby Counts report, looking at the care given to women and babies during labour in 2016.
The QUiPP app, co-funded by Tommy's, is set to help healthcare professionals identify and treat those women who are more likely to give birth prematurely.
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