Director: Greta Bellamacina

Runtime: 1hr 23m

Cast: Greta Bellamacina, Sadie Brown, Tanya Burr, Jaime Winstone, Camilla Rutherford, Tania Wade, Jazzy de Lisser, Anna Brewster, Veronica Clifford, Elisabeth Hopper, Stanley Eldridge, Jason Thorpe, Nicholas Rowe, Bruno Aleph Wizard

Synopsis: Celeste is a struggling young poet and single mother trying to carve out a career as a poet in modern-day London; she is faced with rejection upon rejection as she tries to find a publisher.


As well as co-scripting and directing this film, multi-talented Greta Bellamacina also stars in it. A poet and actor who made her debut at the age of 13, Greta’s film credits include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). She has just played the female lead in Venice at Dawn and a main role in The Long Game, both set for release in 2021. Her poetry collection, Tomorrow’s Woman, was recently published globally by Andrews McMeel/Simon and Schuster. Hurt by Paradise is her directorial debut.

A highly original feature, it was shot with the tiny budget of £75,000 and the support of a group of Bellamacina’s friends. It impressed at film festivals last year and was nominated for the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival and for Best UK Feature Film at Raindance.

Hurt by Paradise  is the story of Celeste (Bellamacina), a single mother and aspiring poet, struggling to get her first book published and to find her estranged father, with the help of a supportive friendship she forms with her older neighbour Stella (Sadie Brown). Filmed on location in Camden, London and Margate, with a majority female crew, the film is shot beautifully by Fabio Paleari and Emily Jane Robinson and has echoes of classic London comedy dramas such as Withnail & I  (1987) and London Kills Me (1991) or the vibe of slice-of-life New York comedies.

The film is loosely structured in a series of vignettes with Bellamancina’s poetry as a periodic voice-over.  Alongside Bellamacina the strong ensemble includes Tanya Burr in her first cinema role and Sadie Brown, supported by a strong cast of British character actors – Jaime Winstone (Kidulthood, 2006), Camilla Rutherford (The Phantom Thread, 2017), Veronica Clifford (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 2005) and Nicholas Rowe (Young Sherlock, 1985).

Above all a tale of friendship and family, this quirky, melancholic comedy is the first film from Sulk Youth, the small production company Bellamacina started with her husband, the artist Robert Montgomery. Sulk Youth say, “We come to filmmaking from an art background and we want to experiment and take risks. With this film we wanted to see if you could make a feature film with almost no money but maximum creativity.”

Bellamacina commented in a recent article, ”We wanted to make a film about two women who ultimately were trying to succeed and achieve their dreams but were sort of failing. You see these quite flawed women who are trying to find their way in the world and they’re still ultimately dreamers.

The character Stella, a failed actress in her early 40s, still very much believes, and even says in the film, ‘A winner is just a failure that tries one more time’.

Hurt by Paradise is about not giving up, and is also a love letter between two female friends, rather than a love story with a man.

In cinemas now.

Images courtesy of Sulk Youth Films