The final part of Dominic Savage's short film series for Channel 4, I Am Hannah, focuses on a woman in her mid-thirties (played by Gemma Chan) as she navigates what is expected of her from society and her family. Feeling unfulfilled by her city job and comparing herself to other women her age who are married and having children, Hannah is at a point in her life where impactful choices have to be made. With a realistic narrative such as this, it's understandable to consider is I Am Hannah based on a true story, or is it just relatable story?
As with each short film in Dominic Savage's series, the actors were heavily involved in what was portrayed on screen and what issues they wanted to explore. For Chan, it was about highlighting the expectations that women are burdened with, specifically when it comes to motherhood. "From quite early on I knew that I wanted to tell a story about a woman struggling to free herself from expectation," the actor told Bustle in a recent interview. "There's a lot of pressure on women around the idea of being a mother, what it means to be a mother, what it means to be a woman if you don't want to be a mother, or if you can't be a mother." She continued:
"That comes from a lot of different areas — from the media, from social situations, from other people and also from within. These ideas are seeded and ingrained from an early age and I felt it was important to explore this in a way that felt current."
In terms of I Am Hannah being based on a true story, it appears that the concept is more rooted in experiences that Chan is familiar with, either through experiencing them herself or through her friends, than following a specific narrative that has playing out in real life.
"I should say that Hannah's story isn't autobiographical. I haven't been through exactly what Hannah's been through," Chan told Bustle. "Thankfully I haven't been on the series of ghastly dates that she's been on. But in terms of the story it's definitely been inspired by conversations that I've [had] with a lot of my female friends and my family." She continued:
"Hannah's story is about a woman trying to free herself from expectation. And that expectation comes from the external. But also it's about her internal expectations of herself as well."
When it comes to external factors, the struggle of living up to expectation is accentuated by the setting in I Am Hannah. As a rep has previously told Bustle, the short film was filmed and set in Central London, which is a large city brimming with opportunities. But it's also a place that can feel claustrophobic at times and can burden the people living there with unrealistic expectations of how you should live life, as opposed to how you want to lead your life. It certainly makes for the perfect setting for this unique and exploratory new film.
I Am Hannah airs tonight at 10 p.m. on Channel 4.