Before Our Eyes Launches with Olivia Colman, Adrian Lester and Bea Svistunenko

Authors: Shape History
  • Reading time: 3 min.
  • Posted on: February 28, 2024

Shape History, in collaboration with Amnesty International UK, is proud to announce the launch of a groundbreaking campaign aimed at bringing attention to the alarming deterioration of human rights in the UK. Titled ‘Before Our Eyes’, it challenges viewers to reconsider their perspectives on human rights violations, highlighting  that they are not only a distant problem but a reality throughout Britain today.

The genesis of this concept – a trailer that appears to be for a gritty British drama featuring Oscar Award winner Olivia Colman and Laurence Olivier Award winner Adrian Lester – originates from a fundamental truth about our audience: the British public does care about human rights stories… on the telly. It’s a well-established fact that popular TV dramas and films frequently incorporate storylines addressing human rights abuses in the UK, from narratives on human trafficking in Happy Valley to explorations of immigrant and workers’ rights in Whitechapel (2009-13) – and even in Olivia Colman’s acclaimed Broadchurch, which delves into the right to a fair trial and due process.

But despite the prevalence of such themes in entertainment media, many people fail to connect these fictional portrayals with the actual reality that human rights in the UK are being eroded. ‘Before Our Eyes’ seeks to bridge this gap by employing actors in roles and settings that audiences expect, only to subvert their expectations at the end by revealing that the trailer is not actually for a new drama but exposes the harsh reality that – as the leading actors say – “this isn’t drama, this is real life.”

At the heart of the campaign, Amnesty uses celebrity talent to amplify its message. By using esteemed actors Olivia Colman and Adrian Lester, ‘Before Our Eyes’ elevates the role of celebrities beyond mere spokespeople for a cause, integrating them into a dramatised narrative based on real situations that leverage their storytelling prowess. This innovative strategy aims to capture the audience’s attention, stimulate discussions about human rights and motivate people to take action.

“Having the opportunity to work with household talent was too good to waste on delivering another charity message in the expected format. We believe that using these familiar faces creatively can make people pay attention to human rights abuses in the UK.”

Zoë Dawson, Creative Lead at Shape History.

“The need to act on human rights violations here in the UK is terrifyingly urgent. The brutal real-life suffering that people are facing right here and right now is something none of us should ignore and it will continue to get worse unless we as a country open our eyes and act. 

“We hope the film will be a catalyst for people across the UK to join the fight for rights and say that safe housing, enough healthy food, good and timely healthcare aren’t ‘nice to-haves’ – these are basic human rights which we expect our own Government to protect. 

“We need new, firm commitments from political leaders across all parties to protect people’s basic rights and effective ways to enforce those commitments. It’s not just the right thing to do to protect our own citizens, it is critical to protecting the UK’s global position as a leader in rights and standards in law, and a country that the world believes practices what we preach.” 

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive.

Moreover, the involvement of acclaimed professionals extends beyond the cast. Director Catherine Moorshead (known for her work on Doctor Who and Downton Abbey) and Director of Photography Tat Radcliffe (credited in films such as Queen and Slim, Pride, and Matilda) lend their expertise to bring the story to life. Supported by a talented crew with experience in notable productions such as the Paddington movies and Barbie, the collaborative effort ensures that “Before Our Eyes” authentically captures the essence of the gritty drama it aims to portray.

The film will be released in partnership with Pearl & Dean across all UK cinemas and promoted across various social media platforms. Through this multifaceted approach, this campaign endeavours to provoke thought, inspire dialogue, and catalyse tangible efforts toward safeguarding human rights in the UK.

For press enquiries please contact Nuala Ginty at Shape History.