Award winning short film CHUBBY comes from a very personal place for director-writer’s Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli
CHUBBY follows the story of a ten-year-old girl who confesses to her family that she has been sexually abused, and the fallout that ensues as her family members each struggle to come to terms with it.
This award-winning short film premiered at Telluride and won the Silver Dragon Award for Best Director of Short Fiction at Krakow Film Festival, the Jury Prize for Best Breakout Performance at the Canadian Film Festival and an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Acting at Slamdance.
CHUBBY writer, producer, directors Madeleine and Dusty met at the 2015 TIFF Talent Lab and quickly joined forces as a filmmaking team. Their short film SLAP HAPPY premiered at BFI London Film Festival, and their short WOMAN IN STALL won the Jury Award for Narrative Student Short at the Austin Film Festival and the Narrative Shorts Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance. Their first feature VIOLATION premiered at Toronto International Film Festival (where Madeleine was named a TIFF Rising Star for her performance) and won the Emerging Canadian Artist Award at Calgary International Film Festival, and the Emerging Canadian Director Award at Vancouver International Film Festival.
Together the directors wanted to write a script that deals with the very complex feelings they had both experienced as abuse survivors. Through opening up about their own personal stories, they discovered that often the burden of responsibility falls heavily on the shoulders of the victim. This was a common theme among other abuse stories they encountered, with survivors believing they have caused, or been active participants in their own abuse. Madeleine and Dusty created CHUBBY in hopes that it would inspire survivors of sexual abuse to feel more comfortable speaking about their own experiences, and to encourage dialogue around the taboo subject of abuse within families.
CHUBBY stars newcomer Maya Harman and Jesse LaVercombe (Murdoch Mysteries). The beautiful cinematography was created by Adam Crosby, who was recently nominated for a Canadian Society of Cinematographers Award for his work on the short.
As a child of abuse I found this really hard to watch. It wasn't so much in the storyline but in the truth. This was my biggest concern as a teacher during COVID. I worried about the schools being closed and all the children who were home with abusers or in horrible home situations. Who would be there to protect them or notice things that are NOT right if they are not being seen? Teachers spend hours with children. We know when someone needs intervention or at the very least can keep our eyes and ears peeled for trauma or changes in a child's personality or body.
Filmed in extremely low light made this short film even more unbearable. All the hidden, unseen things that are right under our noses but because we are all looking at the world through our own blinders we don't always see what is right under our own roof. Maya Harman the child actress who plays Jude an innocently precocious 10 year old often seen either playing her recorder and listening to family conversations or in a total foul mouth conversation with her other brother. Swearing, drinking beer, daring each other to eat each other's "boogers" or drink their pee. Her innocent face hidden behind her hair or in shadow hurt my heart. The cinematography was heartbreakingly stunning making me feel as if I were right there with them and all I wanted to do was hug Jude when she gets a dare she can't refuse because she has been groomed to play along!
Maya Harman was unbelievable and I see huge things for this girl and pray her next project is much much lighter.