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It looks like a simple game of tennis, but Jack’s increasing aggression makes it impossible for Elle to stop herself from remembering something more sinister.

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Director’s Vision for ‘Hard Luck’

I’ve always been curious about how even the strongest, most confident people internalise shame and blame themselves as a coping mechanism when they have experienced abusive or traumatic situations. It seems counter-intuitive, but perhaps it’s the easiest way to make sense of a situation and to shift the narrative to something within your control.

I wanted to explore a story about these kinds of shifting power dynamics, through a woman mentally processing something while engaging in intense physical activity. Tennis in particular is such a mental sport, and it seemed like the perfect setting for something disturbing to invade the mind of our protagonist, really getting under her skin in a physical way, but also in a way that would likely go unnoticed by her opponent.

As Lara and I started talking about this idea, we kept seeing parallels between some of the gendered power dynamics and subtle nuances on the court, things that cause shame, self-doubt, fear of other people’s perception, and dynamics in situations of harassment or abuse. The thing that I find most interesting and affecting about any kind of trauma is how we process it, and that often happens when we least expect it, going unnoticed by those around us.

In sharing this film with a few people I have been quite astonished by how my female contemporaries seem to understand immediately exactly what is going on with no prompting, whereas many men (in particular of older generations) don’t seem to “get it” and often have a completely different takeaway. Since this story is an exploration of a subjective female experience I find it really interesting the wildly different responses coming in from some male viewers and how it in some ways mirrors the obliviousness of Jack’s character to what Elle is going through.

I wanted to create a visceral, visual experience that people can relate to and one that forces us to question the silent handshakes we all make with ourselves.