SHE came to Glasgow for a month’s work but award-winning actor and director Adura Onashile was so enamoured with the city she made it her home.

“I had never been to Glasgow but the moment I arrived and saw all the buildings, I was in awe of the architecture and after that, I became in awe of the people – so it just made sense to stay,” she told the Sunday National.

That was nearly 15 years ago and in that time she has premiered two sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, winning the Scottish Arts Club and Edinburgh Guide Best Scottish Contribution to Drama in 2013 and 2016, as well as a Fringe First Award, and has been highly commended for the Amnesty International Freedom of Speech Award.

The National: Film director and actor Adura Onashile pictured in the Tramway, Glasgow. Adura's first feature film, Girl opens the Glasgow Film Festival on 1st March where it receives its UK premiere...  Photograph by Colin Mearns.8 February 2023.For The HeraldFilm director and actor Adura Onashile in the Tramway, Glasgow

She has also been nominated for the Alfred Fagon and TOTAL Theatre Awards.

Her Bafta-nominated short film Expensive Shit won both the audience and critics awards at the Glasgow International Film Festival and now she has made her first full-length feature film, Girl, which is set in Glasgow.

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Due to be released nationwide at the end of November. it will screen on the opening day of the BFI London Film Festival this week. There will be live broadcasting premieres every day of the festival at the Glasgow Film Theatre.

Girl centres on the deep bond between a young girl and her mother, Grace, which is impacted by the trauma Grace experienced when she was younger.

Their lives are confined to their Glasgow flat, with Grace leaving only for her job as a cleaner and forbidding Ama to set foot outside. As Ama becomes more inquisitive, Grace is forced to confront the traumas of her past in order to give her daughter some freedom.

Onashile said she set the film in Glasgow because she wanted the people that surround Grace and Ama to have “some of the spirit of Glasgow”.

“Of course, people have hard times here but also there is a feeling in the city of connection,” she said. “People want to connect with each other, and it is not a mistake that everybody around Grace and Ama wants to help them. That is a part of the city I felt it was important to portray.

“Maybe it is quintessentially Glasgow as opposed to any other place in the UK.”

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Although the mother and daughter happen to be immigrants, rather than focus on immigration, the story is about trauma and how you overcome it.

“We all know women’s experiences of assault or rape are prevalent in all our societies but often we maybe don’t focus on how that might affect a young mother whose child is growing up into being a young woman,” said Onashile.

“I am really interested in what that can do to you, especially if you haven’t dealt with the trauma. I am interested in how it shows up when you see your young child becoming a teenager and close to the age that you might have been. It’s not something I have really ever seen from a female perspective on a film and it was a story I really wanted to explore.

“We have seen so many movements over the last few years where women have had to reckon with the reality of what it means to live in a patriarchal system and we still get headlines about the disparity in women reporting assault or how it is dealt with by the authorities. It is still very much a live issue and I think we will be making films and art about this for a while until it is really looked at and sorted out.”

It was vital for Onashile that within all the trauma there was still beauty in the relationship.

“A lot of these situations have contradictions built into them,” she pointed out. “There is no doubt that Grace really loves her daughter but because she has not dealt with her issues, she is incredibly overprotective and that is in danger of damaging Ama. The film tells how she deals with that.”

Girl is quietly powerful without being overly dramatic despite the unresolved trauma affecting Grace and Ama’s lives.

“It was important to me that these characters’ lives are not full of drama because I think the quiet strength of people going through really difficult circumstances is something to be applauded and understood better,” said Onashile.

She added that she was fortunate to have a “brilliant” Scottish crew to help make Girl which premiered at the famous Sundance festival in the US earlier this year.

“At the moment it feels like there is a real energy behind debut features from the UK,” said Onashile. “There is interesting work being done across the UK and particularly in Scotland. It is very important that we continue to ride that wave because I think there are really distinct stories we can tell from a Scottish perspective and that is so important.”

GIRL is premiering at the BFI London Film Festival on October 4 –