A film starring a six-year-old deaf British and two former Hollyoaks star has won an Oscar.
The Silence of the Child, which tells the story of a girl who has difficulty communicating, was named best short film.
It stars Maisie Sly, aged six, of Swindon, and Rachel Shenton, who played Mitzeee Minniver in the Channel 4 soap.
Shenton also written and sign language in his acceptance speech. It was directed by Chris Overton – AKA Hollyoaks cage fighter Liam McAllister.
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“I made a promise to our six-year-old main actress that I sign this speech,” Shenton said, while accepting the statuette at Sunday’s ceremony in Hollywood.
“My hands are shaking a little, so I apologize,” she added.
Maisie did not go on stage to receive the award, but Overton told BBC 5 live: “When we won, I could see where jumping up and down and that was surreal.
“But I think she took it all in his stride. She has always said that we were going to win.”
Shenton added: “She held the Oscar, she said it was very heavy, she had a picture taken with her and then said she wanted to go back and see his brothers and sisters, she is keeping it real.”You may also like:
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The Silence of the Child tells the story of a profoundly deaf four-year-old called Libby, played by Maisie. She lives a quiet life until a social worker, played by Shenton, teaches her how to communicate in sign language.
In giving his acceptance speech complete with the sign language, Shenton, said: “Our film is about a deaf child to be born in a world of silence. It is not exaggerated or sensationalised for the film.
“What is going on. Millions of children around the world who live in the silence and in the face of barriers to communication, and in particular access to education.
“Deafness is a silent disability. You can’t see it and it is not life-threatening, therefore, I want to say the biggest of thanks to the Academy, to enable us to put in front of a large audience.”
Shenton, Stoke-on-Trent, was inspired to write the film by his father, who went deaf after receiving a chemotherapy treatment, when she was 12 years old.
She became a qualified British sign Language Interpreter and ambassador for the National Deaf Children’s Society.
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In his acceptance speech, Overton thanked Shenton – his fiancÃ©e. He said: “It is really your hard work for the last 12 years that has really made this project authentic.”
Overton also thanked their parents for making cupcakes to raise funds for the film, and those who supported its crowdfunding campaign.
He told BBC Breakfast they have raised “more than Â£1000 in cupcakes”.
“My mom and dad made the cupcakes and Rachel’s mom and her mother, partner and Nigel sold their work,” he said. “We raised it all by ourselves and we had the support of many people, but it was made on a shoestring.”
The pair cast Maisie, who had never played before, after a research in all the countries involved advertising on the web sites of the organizations of the deaf. They have interviewed 100 children to find their star.
Maisie that her family has recently moved 160 miles from Plymouth to Swindon so Maisie could attend a mainstream school where the deaf children are supported.
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