by writer/director Harry Macqueen
Supernova is an incredibly personal film.
About six years ago I was working in a bar. One day a middle-aged colleague, who had become distant and increasingly bad at her job, was fired. Tragically, six months later she had passed away. At the same time, I saw a documentary that moved me like nothing had before. It followed a 60-year-old British man to the assisted dying clinic ‘Dignitas’ in Switzerland. It transpired that both the man in the documentary and my friend at work had a version of young-onset dementia that had played out in two very different ways. These experiences made me want to find out more about dementia as well as the debate around end-of-life choices, which still rages in many countries today.
Supernova is the result of a lengthy and immersive research process. Over a three-year period, I worked closely with the UK’s leading dementia specialists and collaborated with many individuals and families living with the condition. I continue to do so. It has been one of the most profound experiences of my life. The characters and themes in Supernova are inspired by these people and their stories. As such, I wanted to make a film that placed a trusting, loving relationship in the context of an immediate future that hung in the balance. A romantic, life-affirming, yet challenging film, which was an empathetic portrayal not only of the tragedy that has befallen these lovers, but the beauty of what binds them.
It was important to me that the film was helmed by two honest and uninhibited performances. So, when Stanley said he wanted to be part of it and then suggested his best friend Colin for the other role it was, naturally, a dream come true. As I hope you’ll agree, what Stan and Colin bring to the film is both surprising and heartbreaking. The three of us worked tirelessly to bring these characters and their specific situation to life. The result, in my view, is two of the rawest, most powerful performances of their careers. And they make it look so effortless.
I’m writing this from my East London bedroom on a cloudy, cold…(very British!) January day. The once busy streets out of the window are now almost deserted and we wait to see when life will return to normal again. But I am honoured and thrilled to be able to share this film with you all over in the USA as it was meant to be seen—in a movie theatre. Watching ourselves reflected back at us in a room full of strangers is a beautiful and important experience; one that until very recently I had taken for granted.
I hope the film makes you think about how we might love, and laugh, and live—even in the most challenging of circumstances. Perhaps right now that feels more important than ever.