In September 2015, the British Council , Creative & Cultural Skills, Royal Opera House and Spectaculu challenged students in Brazil and the UK to create five minute films inspired by Verdi’s opera La Traviata (‘The Fallen Woman’). This was part of Design Challenge, which connected students across the world working on set, costume, make up and marketing as well as film.  

La Traviata tells the story of courtesan Violetta Valery and her doomed romance with former client Alfredo Germont. Students explored the opera’s themes of illness, reputation, sexuality and gender politics . 

The Brief

The brief adopted Spectaculu’s four performance making considerations:

  1. Philosophy: students had to consider the social context and motivation of the opera’s writer, Giuseppe Verdi, and how today’s world would (and does) respond to its themes, supporting their research and socio-emotional skills
  2. Word: students were asked to think about how the characters of their films could communicate the emotions of the opera without singing, considering other forms of language without losing sight of the formal nature of the original structure
  3. Voice, Interpretation and Body: students had to choose and direct actors who could communicate the world of the opera – a world in which bodies are used to influence and as currency – with their own physicality, and judges were looking for films which could create the feel of live theatre
  4. The Look: Taking special consideration of the images of women - especially ones considered to be ‘fallen’ or ‘disgraced’ - presented to them in the media, students were asked to explore the influences of artists on their work and show an understanding of how to subvert and play with the audience’s understanding of the subject matter


Films were judged according to the professional standard of the following components:

  • Cinematography
  • Screenplay
  • Soundtrack
  • Technical Production
  • Overall Impression

 UK Winners

BEST FILM: Morose, by Max Ramsden

Morose follows the story of a young man (Alfie) who is suffering from depression after the recent loss of his long time girlfriend (Violet). Alfie's sorrow begins to rapidly increase when he starts having strange hallucinations whilst visiting Violet's grave one morning. Alfie returns home and things take a turn for the worse. 


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: IO Selezionero, by Jack Beale-Burchell

Io Selezioneró (I Will Sort It) is a modern take on the contemporary opera, La Traviata. In this version we are introduced to Frank (Violetta) as he romances and attempts to seduce women, which ultimately ends in his demise. 


BEST SCREENPLAY: Sally, by Zack Bowen

When a young man orders a life-like robotic companion online he is sceptical about if a relationship is possible between man and machine. As they spend more time with each other their love for each other grows and 'Sally' the machine slowly becomes more human.


BEST SOUNDTRACK: Love is Red, by Liam Clarke

When erotic dancer Violet decides to attend a speed dating night in the search for 'Mr Right', she encounters Alfred, whom is part of the infamous and powerful Germont family.  Surprisingly, the two bond and finally seem to have found their perfect match. However an unforeseen and tragic event alters the fate of the star crossed lovers forever.


BEST TECHNICAL PRODUCTION: Tryst'ed, by Naomi Hemming

A modern film noir thriller about a boy's obsession for his neighbour Violet who is an erotic dancer. The film follows both characters' daily routine of getting ready running up to the day they finally meet. The film looks into the concept and physchology of surveillance and stalker-like behaviour, exploring the idea of a stranger being closely connected to another person's life and not knowing their true intentions.