First-year ecology University student Sonia is the eldest of three sisters, living in a run down one-bedroom flat. While awaiting the student loan, crucial for helping her family, she finds out about rejection due to a system error. She tries to hide this from her tired and angry step mum who was counting on it, by working harder at the café and trying to sell the only memory of her mother, her gold cross. This eases some of the pressure off Sonia’s back as she can pay off some of the bills. However, the pressure from the step mother continues – Sonia is the only one who can share the responsibility for the younger sisters with her. One of the university Professors notices Sonia’s desperation and tries to help in an unexpected way.
This screenplay and the film are part of primary data for a PhD research I undertake at Lancaster University: “Reframing the Overlooked Woman: Sonia Marmeladova in English-language Screen Adaptations of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment”. The characters of “Transgressing” are modern British versions of Russian characters from the Dostoevsky’s novel. I will argue that Dostoevsky can be called a true feminist based on the way he depicts women in his novels. Dostoevsky researchers consider his character Sonia to be “one of Dostoevsky’s strongest characters in terms of her steadfastness, self-sacrifice, and influence on others”, “the most appealing of Dostoevsky’s feminine figures”, “one of the most impressive characters of Dostoevsky’s work of art, and of world literature in general”. This inspired me to bring this character to the modern world and contemporary Britain.
I’m always fascinated by the reasons behind unconventional behaviours. Exploring and addressing how long-term sources of pain can affect people’s actions, gives me the perfect leverage to unravel and simplify human emotions into an empathetic and relatable piece of filmmaking. Sonia is clearly a strong character who, despite the beating, has been fighting for the right moral thing to do, all her life. But when the fragile balance comes to a tipping point, she has to make decisions that go against her core values. Or are they? I’ve found myself to be attracted to film characters who make the wrong decision for the right reason, mostly compromising the people around themselves. Sonia goes beyond that, and makes the only decision for the right reason, compromising and ultimately sacrificing herself. Sonia is a strong young woman who allows her weaknesses and vulnerabilities to be part of herself. She’s a complex and multi-dimensional person, immersed in a plot of abusive circumstances, tangible problems and imperceptible wounds. While adapted from a classic Russian novel, Transgressing is a plausible life story, extremely relevant in today’s society, particularly in Great Britain. I am thrilled and honoured to be entrusted with directing such a symphony of arts. Transgressing is going to be an exceptional film, as well as a unique example of modern feminism and social controversy.