Ellie Stones on winning the East Anglian Film Award
Born and raised in Suffolk
Taking part in the first year of Suffolk Shorts was a real privilege. I first came across the festival via FilmFreeway on my hunt for festivals to submit The Pangolin Man to, and being born and raised in Suffolk, it was at the top of my list to enter. After you submit you have to just put it out of your mind for a while, otherwise you’ll go mad with anticipation.
I remember getting the call saying that I’d won Best East Anglian Film – I think my exact response was “no way?!?”, followed by a series of other befuddled words of disbelief. My family were all very proud. I don’t think anyone expects you to actually win, until of course you do. And everyone then explains how they were never really in doubt.
Being able to attend the festival in person was amazing. It’s been such a challenge for everyone to continue a normal life because of the pandemic, but I think it was really important for the event to be in person. You need to have that social interaction, that audience atmosphere that you just can’t get from a virtual event. It was inspiring being able to meet other filmmakers, and chat to members of the public who connected with my film in some way. The whole Suffolk Shorts team did an incredible job, and I think with every passing year, the festival will continue to grow into something really special. It definitely made me very proud to be a Suffolker.
The story of two mammals
Screening The Pangolin Man at the festival means more and more people are aware of Moses and pangolins, and it’s gratifying to know that audiences have felt inspired to donate to his work after watching the film. As a young filmmaker who recently graduated from university, winning the award and getting that support from Suffolk Shorts means the world. It gives you that reassurance that, all the effort you put in, all the blood, sweat and tears, was worth it. It gives you that fighting spirit to continue doing what you love, because you know it has the potential to make a difference.
I questioned myself a lot during the creation of this film, particularly as I was an inexperienced student making a solo documentary. But ultimately, I knew I had a story worth telling, and more importantly, a story that needed telling. And I will always be grateful that the people at Suffolk Shorts saw that.