Antonia Campbell Hughes is a Derry-born actress, writer and director, the winner of a prestigious Berlinale Shooting Stars award, and the star of such acclaimed films as 3096 Days, Kelly + Victor and Jane Campion's Bright Star. She will next be seen onscreen in Cordelia, which she also co-wrote with director Adrian Shergold, due to be released in September.

In recent years, she's been making her mark behind the camera, first with a short film entitled Quest 4 Love, now as one of the contributors to The Uncertain Kingdom, a new anthology of twenty-short films from twenty diverse filmmakers offering a unique portrait of the United Kingdom today, available digitally on demand from June 1st.

Subjects explored include climate change, cultural identity, migration, disability, homelessness and sexuality.

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We asked Antonia for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

It's a very interesting time to reassess what we love about cinema. I am fascinated by a film's execution. This is not just the technical, but the artistry by which images are presented to create a world that entrances. I tend to avoid blockbusters... but I am a sci-fi buff. I recently rewatched The Martian. Currently, I am trying to consider how films can be shot in a Covid-19 health and safety conscious environment... If The Martian was entirely Matt Damon walking around Mars on his own... I would perhaps enjoy the film even more. A dreamlike visual vista, total mastery. Other films I have been revisiting include Manderlay and Dogville. Films that were stopped that I was very much looking forward to included new works from filmmakers I'm a huge fan of - Claire Denis (High Life was perhaps one of the best pieces of cinema of 2019) and Terence Davis, whose next film I very much hope still goes into production.

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Then there's The Uncertain Kingdom. A collective of films from diverse and innovative British filmmakers of note. I am the Northern Ireland representative. It's a film made in a time of Brexit, climate change, Greta Thunberg and Direct Provision. My film looks at displacement without geographical relocation. I had been writing a sci-fi film which specifically was about the displacement of social groupings, physical compartmentalisation - which is a much more rigid draconian approach to partitioning.

Mark O'Halloran in Acre Fall Between, Antonia's contribution to The Uncertain Kingdom

My film, which stars Mark O'Halloran, uses a very simple poetic analogy which is also very much addressing what is constantly in the forefront of my thoughts, mass consumption and greed - climate change. It is set in the year 2030... with far fewer people. Containment is the norm. Curfews are the norm. But people are not thriving. This is an unsuccessful host world for humans to thrive upon. And 9 months later, we are living in a reality that looks very similar to the film I made in August 2019.

BOOK

Ill Nature: Rants and Reflections on Humanity and Other Animals, by Joy Williams. Every page is a joy, and a valuable lesson, one that makes us really take a good hard look at who we are as a human race, and the footprint we leave on our planet. I tend to only read non-fiction - literary criticism, social criticism, etc - and a lot in recent years around climate, environment and capitalism.

THEATRE

Katie Mitchell - I saw her production of The Seagull with Ben Wishaw in 2009. I was enormously drawn to the mixed-media approach to theatre. I have always fiercely believed in the creation of experience - externalisation of concept. Whatever tool one chooses should not be a constraint. I began in fashion at age 18, and then quickly became involved in film and acting.

I did a Swedish film with a Belgian actor called Jan Bijvoet, who introduced me to the work he does with FC Bergman - a Belgian theatre group that I am a now huge fan of.

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TV

I don’t watch much television. My first acting job was in a very mainstream British comedy series called Lead Balloon, which continued for 4 seasons. I now very much appreciate the comedy TV world, and some of the great work that's being done. Perhaps in a nostalgic sense. It’s a lovely community of actors and writers. Very inclusive.

I have just shot the pilot for an 8-episode series during the Lockdown period, with actors Brian Cox, Claes Bang and Grace Van Patten. Directors in NYC, London, Scotland, actors all over the globe. It was quite a process. It's called Little Room, and all proceeds go to UK and US film and TV freelancers impacted by Covid-19 - watch it here.

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ART

Alex Prager is an old friend of mine. She is constantly growing her work in its rich production value. I was one of her ‘model subjects’ many years ago when she started, and even then it was this wonderful theatrical setting she created to photograph. I love her loyalty to her own vision, her subjects, her signature... She is always evolving. Her films are extraordinary.

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TECH

I’m really not very ‘techy’. Even Kindles, I can’t quite endorse. I believe firmly in paper and ink. I use a blackberry. I do have a second phone that I use outside of the UK, which is an iPhone 5. I was told recently there's a heart icon app that tells you how much you walk run every day. That's sort of cool.

The Uncertain Kingdom is available to watch digitally on demand from June 1st - more details here.

Picture: Andy Lopo