Norwich woman writes a "truthful and heartbreaking" film about abuse

Juliet Stevenson and Hannah Morrish as the mother and daughter, Ceres and Proserpina

Juliet Stevenson and Hannah Morrish as the mother and daughter, Ceres and Proserpina - Credit: Ceres

A new film written by a Norwich woman and filmed in north Norfolk, is exploring the complexities of coercive control in romantic relationships.

Hannah Morrish, screenwriter of film Ceres, is using the tale of Ceres and Proserpina to share her experience of a controlling relationship in the hopes that it will help spread awareness and further the conversation.

The Roman myth centres around Proserpina, who is the daughter of Ceres, and Goddess of the Harvest.

Proserpina is abducted by the God of the Underworld. Ceres makes a deal to allow her daughter to be with her for half of the year.

While Proserpina is with her mother, there is spring and summer, and when she is with her abductor,  autumn and winter.

Hannah Morrish, the screenwriter, as the daughter, Proserpina

Hannah Morrish, the screenwriter, as the daughter in Ceres - Credit: Ceres

Miss Morrish, in her 20s and originally from Norwich, said: "The myth has always haunted me and, with everything I learned about coercive control, I found myself writing a film about a daughter coming home to her estranged mother to seek refuge."

Miss Morrish, like Proserpina, returned to her mother, who "barely recognised me. Her warm and joyful daughter was withdrawn and tense. She said 'The light in your lighthouse is out.'

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"She asked me about him. I changed the subject. She talked about her relationships, ones that had started as passionate and become suffocating. How the signs were almost imperceptible at first."

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the year ending March 2020 there were 24,856 offences of coercive control recorded by police in England and Wales.

Juliet Stevenson as Ceres, behind the scenes a north Norfolk cottage

Juliet Stevenson as the mother, Ceres, behind the scenes in a north Norfolk cottage - Credit: Ceres

The film had a crew of around 90pc women, including director Amelia Sears, actor Juliet Stevenson (playing the mother, Ceres), and producer Cat White. They also had funding from Julia Bolton at Beth Chatto Gardens and Jane Steward at Eastgate Larder.

Ms White, who is also a gender advisor to the United Nations, said: "Hannah didn't dramatise anything, it's such a delicate and fine line and you can tell that she wrote from life. It's rich and truthful and heartbreaking."

Miss Morrish added: "Standing on set, thanks to the support of women and an ancient story, I felt that my own wound of coercive control was healing, that the light in my lighthouse was back on."

Ceres will be released in Spring 2022 and its team is hoping for screenings in Norfolk's independent cinemas.