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Serena Armitage - former Nun Monkton Primary School pupil wins Oscar

PUBLISHED: 16:00 06 September 2016

Old girl Serena Armitage – and her new friend Oscar – are given a warm welcome at Nun Monkton Primary School

Old girl Serena Armitage – and her new friend Oscar – are given a warm welcome at Nun Monkton Primary School

Archant

Oscar-winning filmmaker celebrates award for Stutterer by going back to school

Leonardo DiCaprio? Here. Brie Larson? Here. Mark Rylance? Here.

If we were calling the register of this year’s Oscar winners, Yorkshire’s Serena Armitage would be first among equals with this talented little lot.

Her short film Stutterer brought her deserved acclaim and a little gold man to bring home to show the pupils at Nun Monkton Primary School, where she was a pupil from 1985 to 1990.

‘I had five wonderful years here and it has been a privilege to return,’ she said. ‘I have been overwhelmed by the reaction from the school and the village, which has been humbling. I really hope my experience can inspire others and prove that even our wildest dreams can come true.’

Parent Anna Gawthorp was one of a large group of well-wishers who welcomed Serena back to her home village. She said: ‘This was a wonderful experience, which many of our children will remember for the rest of their lives. We were very honoured she chose to share her success with us. We’re very proud of her.’

Stutterer is a powerful drama, which had already won a number of prestigious awards before its Oscar glory, created by Serena’s company Bare Golly Films.

It documents the struggles of a young man with a cruel speech impediment but an eloquent inner voice who, after falling in love online, has to face his greatest fear – meeting and speaking to his new-found love in person.

Serena and her co-filmmakers Benjamin Cleary and Shan Christopher Ogilvie spent a month in Hollywood before the awards night; their trip sponsored by York Handmade Brick Company (her dad, David Armitage, is the chairman).

‘The last six months have been absolutely extraordinary,’ she said. ‘I can’t believe this little project went to Hollywood. It’s been an absolutely insane journey.

‘We didn’t set out to make an award-winning film, just something that might get seen by a few people, but the response has been completely bonkers and I’m just thrilled that we’ve made something that resonates with its audience.’

The film, starring Matthew Needham (Sherlock and The Hollow Crown), Chloe Pirrie (War & Peace and Brief Encounters) and Eric Richard (Bob Cryer in The Bill), has been selected for almost 30 film festivals and has won awards at, among others, the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, Kerry Film Festival and the York-based Aesthetica Short Film Festival.

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