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Tyneside Cinema to show Electricity featuring Agyness Deyn shot in North East

Supermodel and actress Agyness Deyn takes her first leading role in a film shot in the North East

 

Better move fast if you want to see an extraordinary film starring a supermodel in her first lead acting role and shot mostly in the North East.

There are just two screenings of Electricity at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle on Thursday (Jan 15), one at 1.35pm and another at 6pm.

They follow a single screening in December when the film, starring Agyness Deyn, was well received by the North East audience.

Some viewers, no doubt, were having fun trying to spot familiar locations although this won’t have been easy in the case of Newcastle since it was masquerading as London.

This is where most of the story of Electricity, which originated as a novel by North Yorkshire author Ray Robinson, is set.

But it is likely all who saw the film before Christmas were swept up in the story of Lily O’Connor (Deyn) in what London-based Stone City Films call “an Alice in Wonderland for the modern day”.

Lily, described in the synopsis as “brash, sexy, witty, scarred and defiant”, has had a troubled upbringing on the North East coast – Saltburn, to be precise.

She has lived with temporal lobe epilepsy since she was a victim of violence as a child. The film’s catalyst is the death of Lily’s mother and the subsequent need to find her brother, Mikey, who hasn’t been seen since he left for London in pursuit of a girl.

He was the only one who cared for Lily when she was a child and looked after her. But for Lily, a trip to London – in fact, a trip anywhere – is complicated by her condition.

Temporal lobe epilepsy means she is at constant risk of overpowering seizures and is also hypersensitive to visual and aural stimuli.

A seizure, which can come without warning, leaves her bruised and befuddled and it can take her days to get her mind back into sharp focus.

This is not bad science, the product of an author’s and a film-maker’s need for a plot device. Medical charity The Wellcome Trust invested in the film, seeing it as an effective way of explaining the condition to people in a way that wasn’t dry or dull.

Electricity crew member & Si Bell, director of photography, in Newcastle
Electricity crew member & Si Bell, director of photography, in Newcastle
 

“They also wanted to counter the negative perceptions of epilepsy that have pervaded its portrayal in culture for a very long time,” according to the producers.

Director Bryn Higgins said: “One in 20 people have experience of epilepsy so it’s really very common. In a sense that gives the film a worldwide audience.

“But although there is some medical terminology the film is a drama and extremely personal to the lead character of Lily.

“One thing we’ve done in the film is not show her from the outside, lying on the floor and having a seizure. Instead we jump inside her head to see what she sees. For the audience this is a very immersive experience and, I think, quite powerful.”

Bryn, who shot in the North East because he had made an earlier film here and was impressed by the wide range of locations and the ease of moving between them, said: “Clare (Duggan, producer) and myself have a journalistic background and know the value of rigorous research.

“The truth is so often more extraordinary than fiction and there was a responsibility not to take liberties.”

A young woman best known as a supermodel might seem unusual – if attention-grabbing – casting but Bryn said: “She’s a seriously good actor – exceptional. To me she could have been an actor from the beginning.”

As an independent film Electricity is having to fight hard for cinema room. Full houses at the Tyneside could mean further screenings, said Bryn. For tickets to Thursday’s showings, call the Tyneside Cinema on 0845 2179909.

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