Borough film-maker directs powerful look at domestic violence

The short film shines an urgent spotlight on an important issue.

Friday, 1st January 2021, 7:00 am
A scene from the film Hand to Hand Combat

Paul Blinkhorn, from Atherton, has been working with writer Jayne Marshall to bring her work Hand to Hand Combat to the screen.

Originally a theatre monologue for a single actor, the piece has been expanded considerably in scope for film, with the words now being spread among more than 40 women of a wide range of ages and backgrounds.

Filming in lockdown, each contributor was recorded individually over Zoom under Paul’s direction before editor Paul Anderton had the painstaking job of stitching it all together into the final seven-minute film.

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Paul Blinkhorn

The data on domestic abuse are horrifying, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggesting one in three women aged between 16 and 59 will experience it in her lifetime.

And Wigan charity Dias has previously told this newspaper that lockdown has made the problem worse, with a significant increase in calls from people seeking help.

The team behind Hand to Hand Combat hopes the film’s striking words and images will get people thinking about the issue as well as offer hope to those currently suffering abuse.

Paul said: “I’ve worked with Jayne before and prior to lockdown we had discussed doing something with the monologue.

Jayne Marshall

“Lockdown gave me a bit of time and I said I wanted to move it away from one person speaking to doing the whole piece collectively.

“It’s about people being there for each other, supporting each other and speaking out if you suspect someone is experiencing domestic violence.

“We wanted to show how it can affect women across the board.

“The statistics on how many women are victims of domestic violence are quite stark.

One of the characters in the short film

“It’s awful when you think about it.

“Lockdown has also exacerbated the situation. You can’t condone it at any time but there has been a higher level of pressure and stress on people.

“After two weeks we’d all had enough of feeling like prisoners in our own homes and not having our independence to go out, but that’s what it is like for domestic abuse sufferers on a daily basis.

“If someone sees the film and asks for help, speaks up for someone or confides in someone then it will have done its job. No-one should have to suffer in silence.”

Hand to Hand Combat had an open casting process, with anyone who expressed an interest or felt passionately about the material given a chance to appear.

The monologue has also previously been performed on regional radio in audio form.

The size of the cast for the new film version has also been chosen deliberately and the reason will become apparent when viewers see it.

Hand to Hand Combat is released online on Tuesday. To find out more visit www.facebook.com/NorthernOutletTC

The charity Dias is available to help Wiganers in abusive relationships. Anyone requiring help can call 01942 311365 between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday, and more information is available online at diasdvc.org/

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