Sunday, 11 November 2018

Does Helen Keller belong in History?

Perhaps Helen Keller has made too much of our world history (as seen from Whirlpool’s directors interview with BBC History Magazine) for anyone to threaten removing her from history curriculum of any kind. The Texas Board of Education is currently debating whether or not Helen Keller (and Hillary Clinton) should be included in the next round of historic curriculum distributed to schools across the USA.

The decision will be voted on by the board at 9:00AM on Tuesday, November 13th. People can write to the board prior to that time, voting for Keller and/or Clinton by filling out this link:

Board meetings are open to the public on November 13th from 9:00AM, as well as November 16th, when they reconfirm or finalise their decision. 

Location: Room 1-104 of the William B. Travis Building at 1701 N. Congress Ave. in Austin.

Meetings are also broadcast live from this link:

No matter which country you're from, your background or your views, it's all of our business to ensure people with medical conditions and women are represented in any telling of history. 

Please fill out this form by TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13th to add your voice to those wanting to keep Helen Keller (and Hillary Clinton), in school curriculum. They'll ask you "which proposed rule are you commenting on" to which you can answer "ch. 113 social studies curriculum." 

Thank you for taking 2 minutes to share your vote!


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Whirlpool makes London Premiere at UNDERWIRE with an Award Nomination

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.17.44.png

With utter excitement we announce that Whirlpool is making its London premier at Underwire: the UK’s largest festival celebrating female talent!

Freya Dolby, a first class creative and Whirpool’s production designer, is to be congratulated as well for being nominated by Underwire for the Production Design Award for her work on Whirlpool. With only 1 week to plan, source and create all the objects and design needed, Freya brilliantly pulled off a 1918 Alabama and Boston style here in modern London. To say we are proud is an understatement.

To date, all screenings in London have been private ones, and at Underwire, the film is accessible to all.

Join us for a screening and Q&A in November!

Sunday 18 November | 1:00pm

Running time | 76 minutes, followed by a filmmaker Q&A

Venue | The Castle Cinema, First Floor, 64 – 66 Brooksby’s Walk, London E9 6DA

Tickets | £10 / £8 concessions


Monday, 25 June 2018

Whirlpool up against '18's Oscar-winning short at SDFF, and wins

Big handwaves to all the winners at 2018's 4th annual Seattle Deaf Film Festival (SDFF) this year hosted by DEAF SPOTLIGHT to bring you international films offered for the deaf community's participation.

Our creative team were elated Whirlpool was one of the Best Film winners at SFDFF, beating out 2018's Academy Award-winning short film, The Silent ChildWith Whirlpool's recent qualification for 2019 narrative short film category for the Academy Awards, our team is grateful to be compared to past awardees.

SDFF believes in cultivating a vibrant community of emerging and experienced Deaf filmmakers, actors, and producers. Any filmmakers from the Deaf community are welcome to participate. 

Whirlpool  competes alongside  2018's Academy Award-winning short film,   The Silent Child ,    and wins! 

Whirlpool competes alongside 2018's Academy Award-winning short film, The Silent Child, and wins! 


Monday, 15 January 2018

Whirlpool makes NYC Premiere with '17 & '18 Box Office Hits at Athena Film Festival


Whirlpool highlighted in Athena Film Festival 2018 trailer

Led by the fierce feminist Melissa Silverstein, we are grateful to be in good company as we screen Whirlpool among the incredible films slated for the 2018 Athena Film Festival in New York City, February 22nd - 25th. Checkout the Athena team's shout-out to Whirlpool in this years' trailer.

The festival lineup includes films such as LADY BIRD, the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, starring Saoirse Ronan; THE BREADWINNER, directed by Nora Twomey and executive produced by Angelina Jolie; the New York premiere of I AM NOT A WITCH, from first-time writer and director Rungano Nyoni; MEGAN LEAVEY, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite and starring Kate Mara; WONDER WOMAN, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot; and THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE, directed by Niki Caro and starring Jessica Chastain.

The documentary category includes BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY, directed and written by Alexandra Dean and many more documentaries and shorts.

This will be Whirlpool's New York premiere, and will screen in the Shorts Program I. See below to attend the screening


The 2018 festival co-chairs include Ava DuVernayJulie Parker BenelloDebra Martin ChaseGeralyn DreyfousPaul FeigSherry Lansing, Jon Levin, Dylan McDermott, Sheila Nevins, David Oyelowo, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Susan Rovner, Regina K. Scully, and Rachel Weisz.


3 December, 2017

WORLD DISABILITY DAY industry screening of Whirlpool hosted by BULGARI Hotel

On December 3rd, the Bulgari Hotel London hosted an private industry screening of Whirlpool, a short film about Helen Keller. The event was sponsored by Five Fifty Five Productions with support from Long-Winded Lady Productions founder, Bridget Arsenault, who also organised the event and hosted the after-film Q&A (below).

The Q&A included questions to filmmakers Kate Baxter and Elizabeth Dixon, as well as BAFTA-winning and 2x Academy Award-nominated composer, Jered Sorkin, and BAFTA-winning cinematographer Stil Williams.

The event was attended by representatives of cast, crew and executives across the industry. Simon King's photography is on display here, with a few of our favourites above.


25 November, 2015

KATE BAXTER wins BEST ACTRESS, and other awards for Whirlpool at Birmingham Film Fest


Birmingham Film Festival announced two major awards for Whirlpool out of 100+ films including Best Female Actor to Kate Baxter in her role as Helen Keller, and the award for Best Hair and Makeup. Whirlpool's Hair and Makeup lead was Hannah Wing

Festival Director Dean Williams said of the film which was also nominated for Best Short Film, “Whirlpool is a great film and an excellent period piece with high production value, beautiful cinematography, and the hair and make up is out of this world.“ Whirlpool Director of Photography, Stil Williams' work was also recognised in a nomination for Best Cinematography.

Kate Baxter said winning the award for best actress out of over 100 feature and short films, was overwhelming after watching many fantastic performances in feature and short films alike. Kate Baxter said, "Helen Keller is a dream role and such a well-known historic figure, so I'm grateful the judges felt my performance did her persona justice.

Co-writers and -directors Kate Baxter and Elizabeth Dixon expressed their fondness for the experience and team at the Birmingham Film Fest, noting the festival directors' care and attention for all the filmmakers. "Our team will definitely be submitting with other films to the Birmingham Film Festival in the future," says Baxter.

KATE BAXTER wins BEST ACTRESS playing HELEN KELLER in Whirlpool at Birmingham FF, 2017

Elizabeth Dixon and Kate Baxter accepting WHIRLPOOL's win for Best Hair & Makeup - Birmingham FF, 2017

Kate Baxter is interviewed by Mikey's Movie World for WHIRLPOOL's screening at Birmingham FF, 2017


22 November, 2017

BEST INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM awarded to Whirlpool at Austin Indie Fest

Austin Indie Fest has awarded Whirlpool as the Best International Short Film after an unprecedented amount of submissions and films in-competition in the festival's 2017 run. With a focus on supporting new and upcoming filmmakers, writers/directors Kate Baxter and Elizabeth Dixon are grateful their debut short film is recognised as the Best in the International category.

The Festival's Executive Director, Matt Rifley, shared that he felt Whirlpool demonstrated understanding of fine details around disability, and particularly deafness and sign language, which he felt many films miss.


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Whirlpool contrasted with Breathe and Blind as it Doesn't Pity Helen Keller, or Disability

In an article looking at recent portrayals of disability on screen and stage, Selina Mills applauds Whirlpool in The Spectator as "bringing [a] new way of telling disabled people's stories." Miss Mills writes that "disability is not about pity, but about living the best life you can."

Comparing Whirlpool to Breathe, starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, and Blind starring Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore, Miss Mills shares that Whirlpool shows "authentic complexity of people’s lives, not the melodrama and presumed victimhood surrounding their disability." She writes that Whirlpool depicts Helen Keller "not as inspiration porn, but through flashbacks and an interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in the 1900s. Given that there are more than 25 films about Helen Keller’s childhood, it is odd that this is one of the first to engage with her outspoken views about civil liberties...and her romance with Peter Fagan, which her family firmly thwarted."

The Spectator article  by Selina Mills

The Spectator article by Selina Mills

Miss Mills goes onto say that films should not be cheered on simply for being about disability, but that "while there are some really interesting new plays and films out there, most stories about disability still represent disabled people as being either trapped in their bodies, able to be rescued only by healthy, happy people, or as people we can pity, exalt or laugh at, rather than laugh and live with." As artists, we consider whether or not its our role to ensure that when we are telling real stories, we tell them authentically.  


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Whirlpool wins RIFA Inspiration Award at BAFTA

Whirlpool receives the RIFA 2017 Inspiration Award at BAFTA. Left to right: Kate Baxter (Actor, Co-Director) Elizabeth Dixon (Co-Director), Timo Säilä (Sound Designer) and Jered Sorkin (Co-Composer)

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) announced the winners for The AHRC Research in Film Awards 2017 on Thursday 9 November at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), in London. 

Five short films have won the top prize, including Whirlpool in the most ”hotly contested category" of the Inspiration Award, according to the award announcer, Fatima Manji, correspondent for Channel 4 News. 

The prestigious award ceremony was hosted by writer and broadcaster, Danny Leigh, who stated that ”Whirlpool is an extraordinary piece of work.

Filmmakers Kate Baxter and Elizabeth Dixon said that receiving the award ”means that Helen Keller's deeds and accomplishments, once buried in history, are now highlighted in media. Winning the award has already impacted our efforts in creating the feature film about this incredible moment in her life, and has wider ramifications on society and how people with disabilities, or different abilities, are both perceived and represented.” 

Chair of the judging panel, Jan Dalley said: “The wonderfully varied winning films from this year's Research in Film Awards demonstrate the real impact of this art form and how carefully crafted work can take us on a journey of discovery and amazement in under 30 minutes.”

The winners will receive a trophy and £2,000 to put towards their future filmmaking. Filmmakers Kate and Elizabeth are moving the feature film about Helen Keller forward with momentum since Whirlpool has been officially selected for over 11 film festivals and nominated for multiple awards.


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Whirlpool Nominated for 4 "Bests" at Birmingham Film Festival

Birmingham announcement 1.png

With sincere gratitude, we thank the Birmingham Film Festival (BFF) for choosing Whirlpool as an Official Selection, as well as for the 4 nominations for the film, including: Best Short Film, Best Actress (Kate Baxter), Best Cinematographer (Stil Williams) and Best Hair and Make Up (Hannah Wing). BFF demonstrates awareness of the importance of Helen Keller's story, authentic portrayals of disability on screen, as well as the talents of a talented and hard-working production team-who we're constantly inspired by.

The festival runs from 23-26 November, with Whirlpool screening at the below date and location

Whirlpool screening at BFF:

  • Date: Friday 24th November, 2.00pm
  • Location: Mockingbird Cinema, The Custard Factory, B9 4AA.

We wish to congratulate our entire team for Whirlpool's shortlist for the Best Short Film award. We also congratulate Kate BaxterStil Williams, and Hannah Wing for each of their individual awards.

See the full screening schedule here. The award winners will be announced at BFF's Awards Gala Ceremony on Saturday, the 25th of November. 


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Whirlpool Shortlisted for AHRC Research in Film Award 

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 04.05.14.png

The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has shortlisted Whirlpool for the Inspiration Award in the third annual Research in Film Awards. The judges had the demanding task of whittling down the shortlist across five categories to only 25 films, with winners awarded in November at the home of BAFTA.

Whirlpool was shortlisted due to their extensive research about Helen Keller and her global impact and accurate telling of that research, the portrayal of blind- and/or deaf-ness in media, as well as the research and development of a 3D tactile interface technology allowing for people who primarily use their tactile sense to better experience 2D media. This technology is in the R&D stage with plans to be launched with developers from the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College when Kate Baxter and Elizabeth Dixon create the feature film about Helen Keller.

AHRC committee describes Whirlpool's selection:

"Whirlpool was selected by the judges for being a beautifully made film with very high production values. One of the judge’s commented that [Whirlpool] is an exceptional short film that adopts Arts and Humanities methods and attempts to portray not only a factual and historical encounter, but also engages the audience in Helen Keller’s experience.”

Kate Baxter and Elizabeth Dixon (Whirlpool creators), had this to say about the nomination:

"We are honoured that our film about a moment in Helen Keller's adult life, Whirlpool, has been shortlisted for the AHRC's Research in Film Awards. The recognition of the AHRC brings weight and attention to our research of Helen Keller, authentic portrayals of disability on screen, and the technology we are developing with the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College to address novel ways to communicate 2D media through tactile interfaces."

See the full list of shortlisted films here.



Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Austin Film Festival chooses Whirlpool as Official Selection

Academy-Award nominating Austin Film Festival, or "The Writer's Festival," has found Whirlpool to be 'powerful' and 'cinematic,' and therefore have chosen to screen it at their festival. Our team is honoured to be invited, and Whirlpool creators Kate Baxter and Elizabeth Dixon will be attending screenings followed by a Q & A at the festival.

Please see Whirlpool's schedule below, and definitely do come along!


Whirlpool Screening 1Rollins Theatre, 9:45 PM on Thursday, 10/26/2017

Whirlpool Screening 2Galaxy Highland, Screen 9, 3:00 PM on Monday, 10/30/2017


Our team is thrilled to be attending and watching all the other filmmaker's work! See the full schedule here.


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Academy Awards-qualifying film festival, Heartland, announces Whirlpool as Official Selection

Our team is thrilled to share that Whirlpool is chosen as an Official Selection for the 26th annual Heartland Film Festival, Indiana’s largest and longest-running independent film festival. We appreciate Heartland Film Festival's recognition of Helen Keller, her dynamic leadership, her story, and the importance of authentic portrayals of disability.

With over 11 days of programmes in October, Heartland Film showcases 213 independent films, and gives audiences access to more than 150 independent filmmakers from around the world. The Heartland Film Festival is a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards within the Live Action Short Film Category, which Whirlpool sits in. 

Whirlpool will be screened in the Heartland Film Festival in Indiana on the following times and locations:

  • 18 October 2017, 8:00 PM at AMC Castleton Square 14

  • 19 October 2017, 2:30 PM at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

Access the full schedule here. We are grateful for the work of the entire Whirlpool team, including our Whirlpool Ambassador Paulina Bruce's public affairs work for HFF. Thank you!