FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT: VICTORIA MAPPLEBECK
Victoria Mapplebeck doesn’t shy away from telling difficult stories about her personal life. In her first smartphone short 160 Characters, Victoria documents the highs and lows of raising her son alone.
She took the journey even further in the BAFTA-winning film Missed Call, made in collaboration with her teenage son Jim, as they decide to reconnect with a father who's been gone over a decade.
Victoria was nearing completion of Missed Call when a routine mammogram revealed she had breast cancer. She decided to keep filming, using her iPhone to chronicle life after the diagnosis, as she undergoes chemo and months of uncertainty. The resulting film, The Waiting Room, is a nuanced and intimate account of the toll of undergoing cancer treatment. An accompanying VR piece takes you even further inside Victoria’s perspective.
During the global lockdown caused by COVID-19, Victoria is continuing to film. As she told our own Programme Associate Carol Nahra in this interview for Docs on Screens “There’s something about scrutinizing the hell out of difficult stuff that I find helps. It maybe doesn’t help everybody but it helps me. It’s almost like it brings emotional dramas into closeup and puts it at a distance at the same time.”
For the launch of our new ‘Dochouse Conversations’ podcast, Carol will talk to Victoria about what the crisis means for her own work and the documentary making community, including the documentary students she teaches at Royal Holloway. Listen to Victoria's episode here.
You can stream all three of Victoria’s recent films for free on the below links.
160 Characters / 2015 / 11min
Shot entirely on an iPhone 6, 160 Characters is a story that began a decade ago, archived in an old Nokia 8310 phone that Mapplebeck owned. The story unfolds through 100 text messages between Mapplebeck and her ex-partner, starting from how they met, dated for a few months, broke up and subsequently dealt with an unplanned pregnancy.
This essayistic approach to storytelling not only tackles a personal subject but also opens up a wider conversation about our relationship with technology. 160 Characters is a poignant excavation of memory through technology.
Watch 160 Characters here.
Missed Call / 2018 / 19min
Missed Call was the first commissioned short film to be shot on the iPhone X and won a BAFTA for Best Short Film in 2019. As a follow up to 160 Characters, this intimate documentary explores the various ways in which our lives are documented and archived through our mobile phones.
This deeply personal film portrays Mapplebeck’s relationship with her teenage son and how they can reconnect with his estranged father. Beginning with the last message the father sent, back in 2006 when his relationship with Mapplebeck was drawing to a close, and ending with the first phone call made to him in more than a decade.
Watch Missed Call here.
The Waiting Room / 2019 / 15min
In 2017, Victoria Mapplebeck was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to create a film and a virtual reality project which would explore each step of her journey from diagnosis to recovery.
Similarly to Mapplebeck’s previous films she employs a lo-fi style shooting video diaries entirely on an iPhone X. The Waiting Room is an unflinching portrait of the blood, sweat and tears and cancer.
Victoria documents cancer from a patient's point of view, examining what we can do and what we can’t control when our bodies fail us. The Waiting Room challenges the cultural myths that surround cancer, putting under the microscope the language of illness.
You can watch The Waiting Room here.