A Scottish film which reimagines a popular fairytale has won an international award from its premiere at the Melech Tel-Aviv International Film Festival.
Featuring Outlander's Gary Lewis and Susan Vidler, the feature film Stella was lauded as it scooped the 'Best Drama' prize and has now also been nominated for the Montreal Independent Film Festival.
The film tells the story of a German Jewish refugee who finds herself working in a stately home in Scotland belonging to aristocratic supporters of Oswald Mosely, offering a unique take on the Cinderella story.
Set in 1937 and filmed at Galloway House, it highlights a lesser-known and dark moment in Scottish history – when Dumfries and Galloway became one of the main centres of support for fascist leader Mosely and his British Union of Fascists.
While the film is inspired by the Cinderella fairytale, it is based on early folk versions where there are no quick magical solutions to her woes.
Wigtown-based writer and director, Jessica Fox, said: “I never liked the story of Cinderella - her fairy godmother, the glass slippers or the fuss of the ball - until I heard the older folk versions.
"In these stories, Cinderella has no magical transformation. Instead, she flees her kingdom to find safety in another. She takes on a new name and identity.
“As a grandchild of holocaust survivors, who had to flee their homes, find new identities and keep only what they could carry, this Cinderella resonated.
"She wasn’t the fairy tale archetype, an epitome of goodness waiting to be rescued; she was a refugee, a survivor, heroic.
"This Cinderella, her story, was one I wanted to tell and one that is relevant to so many people forced to flee their homes today.”
The main character, Stella Deutch, is played by Edinburgh actor Oli Fyne who described the role and the opportunity to work with Ms Fox as a "dream come true".
She added: “I was drawn to the character of Stella immediately. It’s still rare to have a strong female protagonist in a period drama, and that really excited me. Stella is strong in the authentic sense of the word; inherently flawed and brave in the face of struggle.
"It’s such a fantastic and poignant project and I am thrilled to have been a part of it.”
Actor Gary Lewis, who plays the role of Lord Rig, said it was a "joy to be part of this film".
He drew parallels between the story of Stella and the reality still faced by refugees and asylum seekers today.
He said: "Stella tells the story of a young German woman stranded in Scotland as the Nazis rise to power in Germany.
"The difficulties she faces echo those of desperate people today; refugees and asylum seekers trying to escape many horrors.
"Isolated and terrified for the fate of her family, she then encounters supporters of the Nazi's racist ideology."
Speaking on the recent nomination and award, Ms Fox added: "To have been named Best Drama at the international film festival where Stella had its world premiere was beyond our wildest dreams.
"And now we've been nominated for Montreal's Independent Film Festival we hope to bring it to a much wider audience in the near future.”
The film is now in negotiation for UK distribution.
Susan Vidler, who plays Lady Rig, said: “This is a wonderful new take on the Cinderella story and I'm delighted to have been involved in a project that celebrates a young woman's resilience and the power of love in the face of the evil that was overwhelming Europe and threatened the world.
"We need stories of this kind right now - perhaps more than at any time since the Second World War.
“It was also a real privilege to be part of the remarkable community which came together to create this film."