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WAAPA short films explore nurse and midwife heroes


A new film by a registered nurse turned filmmaker and a creative work that uses contemporary dance to convey emotion are celebrating the extraordinary dedication of our midwives and nurses.
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Helen Hanson-Searle as Nurse, Deb Chikurah as Woman on Bus in the film ‘Shift’.

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Stephanie Khoo, Nathan William Khoo, and Sarah Chaffey feature in the film Becoming.

A new film by a registered nurse turned filmmaker and a creative work that uses contemporary dance to convey emotion are celebrating the extraordinary dedication of our midwives and nurses.

The two short films are by Helen Hanson-Searle and Dr Lucinda Coleman, graduates of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) at Edith Cowan University (ECU).

Both filmmakers were awarded ECU Commissions: the Arts in society grants earlier this year by WAAPA and ECU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery to create artistic works that celebrate 2020 International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

Professor Di Twigg AM from ECU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery said 2020 could not be a more fitting year to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives.

“COVID-19 has highlighted the amazing work that nurses and health care workers do every day,” Professor Twigg said.

“We wanted this project to highlight and recognise nurses and midwives for their courage, commitment, knowledge, resilience, advocacy and persistence in many varied circumstances.”

Shift

In addition to working as an actor, screenwriter and director, Helen Hanson-Searle is also a registered nurse, making her uniquely qualified for this project.

She trained as an actor at WAAPA and studied scriptwriting at the WA Screen Academy at ECU. She has also worked as a registered nurse since 1984 in adult and paediatric nursing.

“I love the diversity of experiences that I’ve had working as a nurse and the wonderful people I’ve met along the way,” Ms Hanson-Searle said.

Ms Hanson-Searle wrote the short film Shift, and also plays the lead role of a nurse who finds renewed energy and inspiration through a series of chance encounters on her journey home from a hard day’s work.

“It was inspired by the small acts of kindness that collectively transform challenging times in our life,” Ms Hanson-Searle said.

Becoming

Dr Lucinda Coleman’s creative work Becoming takes the form of a contemporary dance film that responds to the experiences of registered nurses and midwifes at ECU.

“Because dancers’ bodies convey emotion in a way that spoken or written language does not, the emotional experiences of the nurses/midwives can be conveyed in a distinctly powerful way,” Dr Coleman said.

“The sounds and images of water have been used as a metaphor for the nurses’ becoming: from washing hands, to tears, to immersion in the ocean as representative of the all-encompassing experience of the work of a nurse/midwife.”

Dr Coleman said the spoken reflections in the film offer unique insight into the roles of nurses and midwives, illuminating stories of advocacy and social justice with honesty, humour and sensitivity.

“The recorded voices have provided the soundscape for dancers whose duo and solo work responds to the nuanced emotion of shared narratives of care,” Dr Coleman said.

“The film responds to those formative events, including seeing death for the first time, caring for a new mother and baby and being alone with a patient in crisis, which shape the nurse’s becoming.”

The films are available to watch on ECU’s Youtube channel.

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