Archive of films Poppy Shakespeare / Poppy Shakespeare

United Kingdom
2007, 89 min

Section: Forum of Independents - Competition
Year: 2008

A psychiatric patient of many years attending a London clinic meets an elegant black woman who insists she is not insane. The two young women strike up an unusual friendship... An outstanding adaptation of the novel by Clare Allan, who herself spent almost a third of her life in a psychiatric ward.


“N” has lived in the institutionalised world of a North London psychiatric ward for years upon years, and doesn’t want to change a thing about it. The turning point in her life comes with a new patient, an elegant and temperamental black woman named Poppy Shakespeare, who insists she is not insane. The two women strike up an unusual friendship... The outstanding drama is an adaptation of Clare Allan’s successful novel, which The Guardian newspaper described as Catch-22 meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. At once comic and tragic, lyrical and absurd, the story takes an inside look at a claustrophobic, upside-down world in which reality intermingles with fantasy and reason with insanity. In light of the fact that the book’s author spent almost a third of her life in a psychiatric ward, the story of the two women (portrayed superbly by Anna Maxwell Martin and Naomie Harris) can also be seen as a blistering exposé of the shortcomings of the British healthcare system.

About the director

Benjamin Ross (b. 1964, London) studied at St Catherine’s College in Oxford. He drew attention with his very first work, a crime drama based on a true story called The Young Poisoner’s Handbook (1994). His made-for-television retro-drama RKO 281 (1999), about the making of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941), earned him a number of awards, including a Golden Globe and three Emmy Awards. After the short film Torte Bluma (2005), which is set in World War II, Ross took part in the making of the portmanteau film 3 & 3 (2005). He is currently teaching film studies at Columbia University in New York and working on the television series Terminal. His romantic drama Napoleon and Betsy will premiere next year.


Cowboy Films Ltd.
26, Nassau Street, W1W 7AQ, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 255 6756
Fax: +44 207 255 1132

About the film

Color, 35 mm
World premiere

Section: Forum of Independents - Competition
Director: Benjamin Ross
Screenplay: Sarah Williams podle románu / based on a novel by Clare Allan
Dir. of Photography: Danny Cohen
Music: Molly Nyman, Harry Escott
Editor: David Charap
Producer: Charles Steel, Alasdair Flind
Production: Cowboy Films Ltd.
Cast: Naomie Harris, Anna Maxwell Martin, Tessa Peake Jones, Adrian Scarborough, Cathy Murphy
Contact: Cowboy Films Ltd.


Benjamin Ross

Film Director, Film Director

Alasdair Flind



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