Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s CHUBBY approaches sexual abuse from a unique angle

CHUBBY follows the story of a ten-year-old girl who confesses to her family that she has been sexually abused, and the fallout that ensues as her family members each struggle to come to terms with it.

This award-winning short film premiered at Telluride and won the Silver Dragon Award for Best Director of Short Fiction at Krakow Film Festival, the Jury Prize for Best Breakout Performance at the Canadian Film Festival and an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Acting at Slamdance.

CHUBBY writer, producer, directors Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli met at the 2015 TIFF Talent Lab and quickly joined forces as a filmmaking team. Their short film SLAP HAPPY premiered at BFI London Film Festival, and their short WOMAN IN STALL won the Jury Award for Narrative Student Short at the Austin Film Festival and the Narrative Shorts Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance. Their first feature VIOLATION premiered at Toronto International Film Festival (where Madeleine was named a TIFF Rising Star for her performance) and won the Emerging Canadian Artist Award at Calgary International Film Festival, and the Emerging Canadian Director Award at Vancouver International Film Festival.

The aftermath of sexual assault is a silent burden millions endure in their lifetimes. In Chubby, directors Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli address the unspoken and sometimes disregarded frequency of sexual abuse by relatives. As the film progresses parallel scenes reflect the psychological toll that abuse from a relative incites; and the young child Jude (Maya Harman), evolves into a fractured individual with a forced sense of maturity caused by the assault and the loneliness associated with an absence of confidants.

The aftermath of sexual assault is a silent burden millions endure in their lifetimes.

Chubby approaches sexual abuse from a unique angle as it focuses on Jude’s recurring trauma due to a continuous betrayal from her loved ones. Noah (Jesse LaVercombe), the person she trusted most, committed unspeakable acts, while her loved ones doubted her claims, forcing Jude into a transient state of victim-blaming and isolation.

Cinematographer Adam Crosby intricately designed the scenes between Noah and Jude from the point of view of a predator. Every action Jude made appeared hypersexualized and what appeared as a genuine relationship for Jude was a manipulative plot for Noah. Even classic childhood games where audiences found themselves reminiscing in its familiarity grew corrupted and void of the innocence it once held. 

Cinematographer Adam Crosby intricately designed the scenes between Noah and Jude from the point of view of a predator.

Chubby is a resource encouraging families to believe victims and no longer treat sexual abuse as a forbidden conversation. Unfortunately, many will have a shared understanding of the complex emotions following sexual assault from a family member; similar to Jude, their relationship with the opposite or same-sex will forever be tainted and hesitant. However, instead of glossing over the conversation, the remaining family members can help shoulder the burden, heal together and restore and strengthen their bond.

Chubby is a resource encouraging families to believe victims and no longer treat sexual abuse as a forbidden conversation.

A chance encounter at the 2015 Tiff Talent lab ignited Madeleine and Dusty’s filmmaking team, together the writers, producers, and directors earned various accolades across Canada for their films Slap Happy, Woman in Stall, and Violation. In hopes of encouraging survivors to feel more comfortable sharing their experiences, the dynamic duo revealed personal stories agreeing that the responsibility of healing from the incident usually falls solely on the victim. The two sought help from cinematographer Adam Crosby for help translating the emotions into the film, and in turn, Crosby earned a nomination for the Canadian Society of Cinematographers Award for his work on the short. 

This remarkable film is under Oscar consideration and we think it should go all the way!

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