The constant background noise of intimidation of women in public space is taken on in Hannah Lingard’s Catcalling: What’s your story?
The film hears the experiences of women who have experienced public street harassment and they explain how it made them feel. Hannah wanted to highlight the issue that she thinks has become normalised.
“It happens on such a daily occurrence, it doesn’t feel like something that you should have the right to be annoyed about, which is something that I definitely have felt myself in the past,” she says. When she asked people to contribute one thing stood out.
“The most common thing that was said to me was ‘nothing that bad’s ever happened to me’. It’s like there was this measure in people’s heads of what justified when talking about the microaggressions faced every day. But that doesn’t mean that your stories and what you’ve experienced aren’t valid,” says Hannah.
“From my experience, speaking to men, men don’t necessarily realise what women – and I use the term ‘women’, inclusive of everyone who identifies as a woman – face when they leave their house, and I wanted to show that. And I wanted to show just how relentless it can be to occupy a public space when you identify as a woman.”
Being made during lockdown meant production wasn’t straightforward. Hannah’s original plan was to work with Catcalls of Bristol, a campaign group who go around the city and chalk onto the floor catcalling that’s been said there so that people can see what took place and where. Filming regulations during Covid from Cardiff University – Catcalling: What’s your story was made as part of Hannah’s MA – put a stop to that approach. Instead, she collected shared international voices.
“I found lots of different women from across the world. I spoke to a woman in Peru and reached out to people in Bangladesh, in France, in the US,” says Hannah, who pulled on contacts as well as put a call out on her Instagram account. Catcalls of Bristol also put a call out on their Instagram, asking people to record themselves.
“A big part of the process of making the film was talking to people, and saying your story is so valid and it is important and people need to hear it,” she says.
Hannah received recordings from about 20 different women across the world, which she put together to create the bigger story. By that time the regulations from the university had changed and Hannah had the opportunity to capture imagery on the street. She chose images that corresponded to what was being said. For example, a stop sign when a contributor called for things to stop. Or a disregarded mask when someone felt silenced after being catcalled from a car “because the car speeds off and you don’t have that opportunity to react, even if you want to”.
For the Communicating Causes module of her course, Hannah made a film highlighting the sexual harassment that happens in nightclubs.
“I do find myself naturally drawn to causes and issues that affect women,” says Hannah.
She’s also interested in documentary filmmaking. She has also made Cornwall: Our Home, a film about Cornwall and what it means to be Cornish.
“I’m very interested in going into documentary making. There are so many things that you see or experience that needs to be talked about,” says Hannah. And it’s the research side she’s particularly drawn to.
“I really like learning and hearing different opinions, points of view, and reading research,” she says. A big part of that attraction is the power of documentary.
“Documentary gives us an opportunity to become informed about something in a different way,” says Hannah. “It has that ability to really grab people and to show them something that they may never experience themselves. That’s what’s so powerful about it. When you watch documentaries you almost feel involved and a part of it. And it gives people new information that’s much more accessible.
“In many ways, it is becoming even more important in informing people and for people to learn more.”
Hannah has joined TBD Media Group as a content writer, progressing to a producer.
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