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Documentary, Female Directors, Female Filmmakers, Women in Film

Still Mountain goes into production

27th March 2019

Still Mountain is a new documentary from Big Buddha Films


Story outline

Irene set up Still Mountain, a ranch on the outskirts of Sheffield over many years with her Amish husband, Chris. They imported ‘cowboy’ horses from the USA and lived an Amish lifestyle, off grid, in their log cabin surrounded by wildlife. When Chris died of cancer three years ago, Irene was left alone, getting older, almost deaf and with no one to help her run the place. Her husband had managed most of her affairs in their very traditional marriage. She had no idea about the general running of things. The cost of maintaining the land and horses is huge and she is sinking further into trouble trying to survive and keep all the horses alive. Today, Still Mountain is no longer a viable business and has fallen into disrepair.

Luckily for Irene, a neighbour Alison, a retired university researcher, has been trying to help Irene find ways of making Still Mountain viable again. She has stabled her own horse on Irene’s land and is helping to maintain the place since Chris died. But there is way too much work for the two of them and nowhere near enough income to adequately look after the horses, some of whom are getting old and sick. So several months ago, sinking under the weight of it all, Alison placed an ad for help.

Steven is an ex cocaine addict from Newcastle with an extremely troubled past. Newly released from his latest stint in prison and in a perilous state, he was admitted to Phoenix House, a rehab centre in Sheffield. He has undergone an intense program of recovery. A friend told him about Alison’s ad in a pet shop that was looking for volunteers to help out at Still Mountain. Having always loved horses, Steven responded and Alison arranged for him to come and help. Steven quickly fell in love with the place and now comes every day. His connection with the horses is incredible. There is an unmistakable bond between them, a natural affinity. In addition to this, a close friendship triangle and deep dependency has evolved between Steven, Alison and Irene.

Steven hasn’t used drugs in over 18 months now and he swears the horses and Still Mountain have saved his life. He says for once he has a purpose, is needed and appreciated. He is relishing the opportunity to give back and help others after the chaos, sorrow and destruction he has created in the past.


As well as Steven, other recovering addicts from Phoenix House signed up to volunteer at the ranch, coming once or twice a week.

A few months ago, Alison discovered a horseman named Joe who trained in the America. He devotes his life to teaching both human and horse to develop a partnership. Joe visits Still Mountain weekly. Over the next few months he is planning to train Steven to ride ‘western’ and take part in competitions. Steven is currently doing the groundwork, using a technique called ‘The Feel’ building up to his first riding lesson. But this comes at a cost, so they are looking at ways to fund Steven’s training.


All of this is now in jeopardy. Still Mountain is in serious danger of being shut down due to the surrounding neighbours petitioning Sheffield City Council to get Irene off the land. They see the ranch and it’s motley crew as a blot on the landscape. There are huge class issues at play here.

So the Still Mountain community is now fighting hard to try and save Irene’s home, horses and the very essence of Steven’s world, the key to his continued recovery and healing. If the council closes the ranch, Irene will be made homeless and ten old, but much loved horses will have to be put down. This is having a huge impact on Irene’s mental health and she says that she often thinks of suicide. The only thing keeping her going are her horses and her new found community with Steven and Alison.


During the coming months we will see if the fight with the council is successful. What will become of Irene and Steven if they close Still Mountain down? They must do all they can to raise the stakes for the place, bringing in as much new business as they can. They have all kinds of creative plans for the place. This has to succeed. Their very lives depend upon it.

The Creative Team

Still Mountain will be Directed by Debbie Howard, Produced by Colin Pons. It is a co production between Big Buddha Films, Studio of the North and Sheffield Hallam University.

Award, Award of Excellence, Big Buddha Films, Debbie Howard, Documentary, Female Directors, Female Filmmakers, Film Festivals, filmmaking, Impact Docs Award, Press, Still Loved

Still Loved documentary Wins ‘Award of Excellence’ in Impact DOCS Awards Competition

28th July 2017

Still Loved documentary Wins ‘Award of Excellence’ in Impact DOCS Awards Competition

Sheffield based Debbie Howard of Big Buddha Films has won a prestigious Award of Excellence, from The Impact DOCS Awards Competition. The award was given for Debbie Howard’s compelling documentary Still Loved, which explores the complexity and reality for families surviving baby loss. Giving an unexpected voice to bereaved fathers, who speak candidly for the first time providing an additional perspective to that offered by mothers, grandparents and siblings. This is a brave, inclusive and ultimately life affirming film, for anyone that has ever, or will ever, lose someone they love.

Watch the trailer

“We are thrilled to receive this award. Still Loved has been an incredibly challenging film to make due to the stigma and taboo surrounding stillbirth. Our team have worked passionately on this film for three years working closely with the seven families featured in the film. After being told many times not to make this film and that there is no audience for it, we released the film into cinemas last year to packed houses and many sold out screenings. We received fantastic reviews in the press and receiving this award is a great endorsement for us. Unless people see this film, attitudes towards baby loss won’t change, and it desperately needs to. We hope now that one of the national television channels will be courageous enough to broadcast this film so that it reaches a wider audience and breaks the silence around baby loss, which affects thousands of families every year. Thanks so much for this incredible award.”  – Director, Debbie Howard.

Ways to watch Still Loved


★★★★ The Guardian  “Remarkable Candour”
★★★★★ Vulture Hound  “Vital viewing”

Impact DOCS recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Documentaries were received from 30 countries, including veteran award winning filmmakers and fresh new talent.  Entries were judged by highly qualified and award winning professionals in the film and television industry.

In winning an Impact DOCS award, Big Buddha Films joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award including the Oscar winning director Louie Psihoyos for his 2016 Best of Show – Racing Extinction, Oscar winner Yael Melamede for (Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies, and Emmy Award winner Gerald Rafshoon for Endless Corridors narrated by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons, and many more.

Rick Prickett, who chairs Impact DOCS, had this to say about the latest winners,The judges and I were simply blown away by the variety and immensely important documentaries we screened. Impact DOCS is not an easy award to win. Entries are received from around the world from powerhouse companies to remarkable new talent. Impact DOCS helps set the standard for craft and creativity as well as power catalysts for global change. The goal of Impact DOCS is to help winners achieve the recognition they deserve for their dedication and work.”

For more information about Still Loved
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For more information about Big Buddha Films
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Award, Best Documentary, Documentary, Feature Film, Female Directors, Female Filmmakers, Festivals, Film Festivals, filmmaking, Screenings, Still Loved, Women in Film

Still Loved wins Best Documentary award

24th July 2017

We’re delighted that Still Loved won the ‘Best Documentary’ award at High Peak Independent Film Festival this weekend. With tough competition from some other feature docs, we’re thrilled to have been honoured with this award, giving recognition to the film and also to stillbirth and baby loss.

Big thanks to Festival Director Nicole Pott and her team at HPIFF 2017 for their hard work and hospitality at this festival.