AN Essex film-maker struck gold at the Cannes Film Festival with a movie shot in Southend and Rochford.
Jane Gull’s Sunny Boy scooped the top award, the Grand Jury Prize, at Entr’ 2 Marches. An offshoot of the main festival, Entr’ 2 Marches is devoted to indie films.
Written and directed by Jane, the film tells of a boy with a rare skin condition. Exposure to sunlight would kill him, so he has to lead his life indoors, and in the dark.
Jane said: “His yearning to live the life of a normal teenager drives him to seek a solution, at whatever cost.”
Judges rated the film so highly they gave it an additional accolade.
Jane said: “Not only did I win the most beautiful award, made by artist Jean Claude Novaro, but my film was requested by the Mayor of Cannes to be screened alongside the winner of this year’s Palme d’Or – the top Cannes prize.
“Imagine – three thousand people, including some of the biggest names in the film world, watching my film in Cannes’ famous Salle Louis Lumiere film theatre.”
Originally from Rochford, Jane, an actress and TV producer, now lives and works in London, often using the proceeds of her day jobs to finance her highly personal films.
Filming Sunny Boy in Essex gave her the chance to set her story in familiar childhood haunts, and to cast friends in many of the parts. She said: “Apart from being my childhood home, Essex is also brilliant because of the diverse locations.’’ The sole professional actor in the film is Lewis Nicholas, who also stars in the current Emirates commercial alongside Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sunny Boy has already enjoyed a cinema release in Australia.
Following its success at Cannes, the film is lined up for broadcast on TV in Britain, France and Germany later in the year.
Jane, who has returned to Essex to shoot her next film, Wags to Witches, about the history of the Essex Girl phenomenon, added: “I am not allowed to disclose much about this at the moment, but it will be shown on mainstream channels.”