Grit and Glamour: Inspiring Pretty Red Dress

Dionne Edwards and Georgia Goggin select the inspirations behind their acclaimed debut feature, Pretty Red Dress.

I wanted Pretty Red Dress to be joyful, symphonic and exhilarating as well as grounded, raw, and truthful. While making the film we came up with the term ‘Grit and Glamour,’ because in many ways they are opposites, yet strangely harmonious when placed together intentionally. The following films selected for this programme served as inspiration in their grit, glamour and authenticity - even their imperfections.

Dionne Edwards, writer and director.

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We Love MosesWe Love Moses

Drama201616 minsDirector: Dionne Edwards

Twelve year old Ella's obsession with her brother's best friend Moses leaves her with a secret to take to the grave.

"I was already developing Pretty Red Dress around the time of making We Love Moses – it set the tone for it by exploring themes such as family, secrecy, and shame. This paved the way for Pretty Red Dress because it was our first time working with a proper budget and professional crew."

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Drama195982 minsDirector: John Cassavetes

John Cassavetes' directorial debut follows the relationship between a mixed-race woman and a white man.

"I love Cassavetes’ films. This film is free and magical. There’s a looseness and an unprocessed ease with which it moves along, led by its brilliant cast’s realistic performances. The film isn’t concerned with rigid A-to-B style but focuses on emotions and the truthfulness of human needs and interactions."

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Fear Eats the SoulFear Eats the Soul

Melodrama197493 minsDirector: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Fassbinder’s international breakthrough, this unconventional love story combines lucid social analysis with devastating emotional power.

"Perhaps this film sits in a strange place politically today, but the filmmaking is extremely considered - from the imaginative staging and framing to the emotional dynamics - also look out for the brilliant use of red and green in the bar scenes; we drew inspiration from this device in our party scenes."

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Drama198095 minsDirector: Franco Rosso

A young Rastafarian toaster (rapper) aims for success at a Reggae Sound System competition, in this cult classic from Franco Rosso that pulsates with an irresistible dub soundtrack.

"An underrated classic, capturing the sights, sounds and politics of late 70’s Brixton. I was inspired by the mood of this film, by way of letting music lead, hanging out with characters and of course that famous engagement party. Also look out for Mark Monero who plays Carlton making a cameo in Pretty Red Dress as Travis’ mother’s partner in the party scene!"

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A Woman Under the InfluenceA Woman Under the Influence

Drama1974146 minsDirector: John Cassavetes

John Cassavetes' powerful drama stars Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk as a blue-collar couple struggling to cope with the wife's slide into mental illness.

"I couldn’t go with only one Cassavetes film in this list. This is one of Cassavetes’ greatest; a rich and profound exploration of human emotion. I was heavily influenced by the raw performances that feel intensely real and also by the idea of looking outside of the box."

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Bullet BoyBullet Boy

Drama200586 minsDirector: Saul Dibb

Ashley Walters impresses in the hard-hitting Hackney drama that’s still one of the best of Britain’s black urban crime films.

"This was one of the first black British inner-city dramas that I remember seeing. Featuring a moving performance from a young Ashley Walters and released in 2005, it paved the way for many of its kind. The starting point in the narrative of a young man coming out of prison with hopes to turn his life around was an archetype that I was exploring in Pretty Red Dress."

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Pretty Red DressPretty Red Dress

Drama2022110 minsDirector: Dionne Edwards

One dress changes everything for a family in Dionne Edwards’ brilliant debut. Defiant, uplifting and with music at its core.

Chart-topping singer and West End actor Alexandra Burke and Screen Star of Tomorrow Natey Jones star in this stunning debut feature from Dionne Edwards.

More from Grit and Glamour: Inspiring Pretty Red Dress in our Rentals collection.