The Speech

Created by Christina Yianni, The Pitch 2023

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A darkly humoured drama that follows Ankita in her new job as a civil servant. On her first day she is plunged into a dilemma when she is asked to pre-prepare a press release commenting on the eventual tragic deaths of a group of refugees on a ship making their way to the UK. She is alarmed there is no room to question or seek a re-evaluation of the institutional line and turns to her former foster father for advice. The question he poses is whether she will keep her head down to rise in her career or risk her future and use her position for others. Ankita from an underrepresented group has worked hard to get this far, but decides to do what is in her power to do and she draws on her personal story and gift of music to try to convey what seems to have been lost amidst the importance of keeping the wheels of bureaucracy oiled - human life, human connection and compassion. She defies the order of things and appeals her case and wins the ear of the Undersecretary who has power to call for change.

Biblical Connection

My story and protagonist are inspired by the book of Esther. In Esther we see a woman of limited agency, employing soft power through her status as queen to advocate on behalf of a persecuted people facing genocide. She is faced with a similar dilemma, she could say nothing and hope to remain hidden or, as her former guardian puts it, use her status to help her people though it may mean exposure and execution for herself should the King be displeased with her revelation. Though in Esther there is a clear antagonist in Esther who is ultimately punished, there is also a machinery at work behind the corrupt decree. We read of a King happy to take a bribe and promote and demote without check, secretaries transcribing the decree, advisors around the King, and soldiers obedient to carry out any act. In short this film looks at these things as a whole, that there are systems in place which cause and allow individuals to act collectively in inhumane or irresponsible ways that need exposing and re-examining.