About the film
What is the film about?
A mother fights the school system to protect her ten year old son with Aspergers. All he wants is a friend. When a new girl joins his class, both their lives change forever.
Although he struggles to know how to communicate with Isla, the girl with the ladybird backpack becomes a positive focus for a young boy desperately trying to make a human connection.
Whilst inadvertently trying to protect himself and new girl Isla, he lands himself in serious trouble with the Headmistress, Mrs Benson. Kerry attempts to defend her child but Mrs Benson refuses to look at the causes, only the incident. Harrison is excluded, judged and ostracised by the school.
Kerry is heartbroken. Harrison is more confused then ever and above everything he wonders whether he will ever have a friend.
The Story BEHIND
The Boy and The Ladybird represents a heart-wrenching, poignant and ultimately uplifting exploration of a mother fighting a broken system and young boy navigating this strange world through the multicoloured windows of Asperger’s.
Harrison goes to school every day fearful of the school bully, Bobby. Harrison’s mother, Kerry, is at her wit’s end, not only struggling with Harrison’s condition but also making numerous complaints to the school with no resolution.
On the umpteenth day of Harrison refusing to enter the school gates he sees Isla and her ladybird backpack. Harrison loves ladybirds and is intrigued by Isla, who, like him, seems to isolate herself from other children.
Autism and Me Notes from the Writer Marie Delanote
As a child, I always felt like an outsider, struggling to fit in. I remember desperately trying to figure out why people would act and speak the way they did. I have taught myself everything through observing others and reflecting on past experiences. If I find myself in a situation that I haven’t experienced before, enormous anxiety is created and I struggle with how to deal with it. I need to be able to relate to similar situations. As a child, I would have major anger outbursts which were completely wrongly interpreted. The anger outbursts were pure desperation and an outlet of bottled up emotions and over stimulation. I long for structure and schedules in my life. Any change throws me off.
As a child and young adult, I developed OCD as a desperate attempt to control uncontrollable life. This was highly stressful, leading to even more anxiety and eventually depression. Having heightened senses, being in a room with many people, I need recuperation time to let go and come back to myself. The reason behind this is that I feel everything very deeply; touch, taste, emotions and sight. Hence the reason for easy over-stimulation. I wasn’t diagnosed with autism until I was 34 years old when a paediatrician was reading a list of autism traits to diagnose my boys. I ticked off many traits on the list. For years I thought I was weird, socially impaired... but there was a name for it.
Ben S. Hyland
Ben S. Hyland is a writer/director raised in Nottingham but now based in London. He creates “poignant, harrowing and important” films. https://www.benshyland.com
In 2019 Ben was a finalist in the ENTER THE PITCH competition.
In the same year his short film ROLE MODELS was nominated for the charity film of the year.
In 2018 he was awarded funding from the Talkies Film Fund for his short comedy Quiet Carriage starring Amit Shah.
Also in 2017 he won the Colchester Film Festival 60hr film challenge with his film JUNIOR.
In the same year he was shortlisted (top 20) for the JAMESON’S FIRST SHOT from 2722 entries.
Ben worked closely with charities including The Mankind Initiative, TENUK and Unseen for his films PADLOCK and SAFE SPACE. Films that explored male domestic abuse and human trafficking respectively. Both films were successful on the festival circuit playing at BIFA and BAFTA qualifying festivals.
Ben is a member of DIRECTORS UK and was also part of BAFTA crew 2018/19.
Marie Delanote was born in West Flanders, Belgium and relocated with her British husband and children to Essex in the UK in 2011. Her early years were dedicated to music, and she completed a masters degree in music/double bass at the ‘Lemmensinstituut’, Royal College of Music in Belgium. In addition to these academic feats, from a very early age, she had a fascination for spiritual practices.
Over the years, numerous courses have enhanced her knowledge and abilities and Marie has been a practicing healer for many years. She provides one on one consultations in the following – Chakra-therapy, Crystal-therapy, working with Ethereal Crystals, Past Life Regression therapy, Mediumship, Reading of Oracle cards ‘Belline’ and ‘Lenormand’, Numerology.
Her experiences and practices led her towards writing and her first book “The Healing Of The 1lb Baby” was published in November 2014. The book captured the attention of the media in the UK and the USA..
Marie’s second book and CD, published by Inner Traditions, was released on June 13th 2017 “Acorns to Great Oaks – Meditations for Children”.
Adam Gregory Smith
Adam is a proud Northerner with a Masters in Marine Biology from Southampton University. Remaining in the south, he attended London’s Central Film School, later the Production Guild Production Management Training Scheme (2017) and NFTS Producing Your First Feature certificate (2019)
Passionate about British independent cinema and its contribution to the exploration of our national culture, Adam has a broad interest in genres, having produced successful short films in the social issues space with IdeasTap Funded THE BACKSEAT and SAFE SPACE both of which screened at BAFTA and BIFA festivals internationally; while also making a mark with comedy THE INSECURITIES OF DILL which played at multiple Oscar® Qualifying festivals and his latest production QUIET CARRIAGE.
Adam is developing a slate of films under his company Hidden Art Films and for two years has been a BAFTA Crew member.
What is different about this film? The Directors Vision
Directors Vision - Notes from Ben:
If I were to describe myself as a director in one word I would say authentic. This is what I strive to achieve with each and every project. Making films about subject matters with no prior knowledge base is a minefield and one can often tell when writing or direction doesn’t find the truth in a story. My previous most successful films have been based on real events. Padlock (2017) was a suspenseful thriller that explored domestic abuse against men. Safe Space (2018) was a traumatic drama that explored the recovery of a women suspected of being trafficked into the UK. As a starting point I knew very little about these topics but I worked closely with charities like Unseen, The Mankind Initiative and TENUK to understand legislation and mechanics behind the issues. They in turn gave me direct contact with victims and survivors of both domestic abuse and human trafficking which allowed me to find the emotional core of each story..
I wouldn’t have touched the subject matter of autism if I hadn’t have met Marie Delanote. I really knew nothing about the condition. Marie initially sent me the original script for The Boy and the Ladybird and I immediately saw something beautiful. I engaged with the story and it felt very much like the type of film that I would make.
When you strip away the complexity of the issues in the film there is actually a really simple story. That’s a mother that wants her son to be okay and a little boy that just wants to find a friend.
A huge part of the vision for the aesthetic of this film is the combination of live action and animation. This helps move our story forward, adds charm and production value but most importantly it provides us with some insight into Harrison’s creativity as experienced through his Aspergers. When Harrison is alone he draws pictures in his Book Of Creativity. Those drawings, mainly of ladybirds, literally come alive off the page and exist in the real world. So the animation will have a look and feel as though drawn by a ten year old boy.
The animations are part of Harrison’s coping mechanisms. They’re calming, they help him make sense of the world around him and they help him to focus when the world seems most confusing. They bring insight and (cough cough!) further authenticity to this film.
We are supported by Charities and Businesses Leaders
Sprankel helps schools and parents of children with dyslexia. Sprankel was founded by former Belgian Queen Fabiola..
The best thing would be for you to reach out to us using the below contact info.
If you are inserted in supporting the film and rainsing awarness about autism internationally you can donate to the films budget.
How to support us?
The film was supported by Unseen UK, The Garvan O'Doherty Group, LeQuid and LaCie.
We worked closely with Unseen UK who give specialist care in the fight against slavery. Through supporting survivors, their provision gives victims a safe place to recover from trauma and rebuild their lives.
Their practices are researched thoroughly, enabling them to identify the key issues surrounding slavery and exploitation.
Safe Space is the story that chronicles the relationship between Sarah and Amne. Sarah is a key workers in a women's safe house. Amne is a new resident and Sarah's new client. The story begins when the two first meet and ends when they say their final goodbye.
The Film has reached thousands of people at Film Festivals internationally and helped the debate on the subject.
The film has been selected of many of the most exclusive film festivals in the world including OSCAR and BAFTA Qualifying festivals such as Rhode Island International Film Festival and UnderWire Film Festival.
You can find out more about the film at and