M&M’S® Short Film Festival: Solers United Trailer Sees Tensions Rise In A Female Football Team

Solers United – M&M'S

by Empire |
Published on

Created by Empire for M&M’S Chocolate.

Time to lace up those footy boots, and get yourself out on the pitch – there’s potentially a brand new female footy film in town, and you could be part of making it a reality.

Introducing the M&M’S Short Film Festival, an exciting new way to find the filmmakers of tomorrow. Bringing together diverse voices from across the UK and shining a light on the next generation of talent, the M&M’S Short Film Festival is a competition which gives up and coming directors the chance to receive £25,000 in funding to bring their short film idea to life. The best part? You get to be involved too, and vote for who takes the top prize.

M&M'S Short Film Festival

The challenge for these budding movie-makers was to come up with a compelling cinematic concept that fits the theme of ‘belonging’. After receiving many incredible applications, a panel of judges selected three finalists, each of which have put together trailers for their short film as a teaser of what’s to come if they get to make them for real. To help you decide who to vote for, Empire sat down with each director to get to know them a little better, learn more about their short film idea, their influences – and, of course, their favourite type of M&M’S.

Here, we’re talking to Sara Harrak, director of Solers United – a dark comedy about a grassroots female football team trying to raise funds to save their pitch, and whose close dynamic is thrown into disarray when a new girl arrives. Find out more about Harrak below – and click here to watch all three trailers, and place your vote!

Solers United – M&M'S

EMPIRE: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

SARA HARRAK: I am a British-Moroccan filmmaker. I've actually worked in this industry for over 10 years, but previously as an assistant director. I've been back in London for about a year and a half, but previously, I was living in Bali. That's where I found the love for directing. I had a bit of an Eat, Pray, Love moment.

What made you want to be a filmmaker?

Originally, I wanted to be an actress – which now would be the last thing I would want to do. I think it's a talent that I have not got! I first started making films with a best friend of mine. Because we were both actors, we were like, 'No one's hiring us, right? Let's make our own short films.' And then we realised, after we'd written this short film and got the crew on board, 'Oh, we need someone to direct this'. So I ended up doing it.

Solers United – M&M'S

Can you tell us about your previous short films?

The most recent one is called F**ked. It's a dark comedy about a lesbian married couple in an open relationship, and one of them decides to sleep with men. It's all shot in a supermarket. We won the Best Short Film at the Iris Prize, which was brilliant. It's on Channel 4 at the moment as well.

Which filmmakers inspire you the most?

Desiree Akhavan – Appropriate Behaviour is my favourite. Nida Manzoor – I love We Are Lady Parts, and how it's spinning what being a Muslim is on his head. Ramy Youssef, and Emma Seligman. Bottoms is actually one of the references I've been using – that and We Are Lady Parts – for the actors and heads of department to look at, because it is essentially about these misfits working together, and it somehow works. It's like, there's always a place for people. Derry Girls is a great example of that as well.

Solers United – M&M'S

Which films are direct influences on your new short?

I'll be honest, it's been so hard. This is a good thing and a bad thing. It's been so hard to find references for a female football team comedy. Obviously, there's Bend It Like Beckham, which is a cult film now. But the fresh version of that? I cannot find one. I've been having to look at films like The Bromley Boys, or male football things.

Where did the initial idea for Solers United come from?

When I came back from Bali, all my friends had left London. So I had to start fresh with finding new friends, and I’d started playing football again in Bali. I knew that was good for me – join a team, and you'll make friends quickly. So I did, and that is basically where this whole thing has come from.

You kind of become engulfed by football. I was trying to explain to my actors that even though my team plays very low league football, like five-a-side, when you score a goal, it feels like you have scored for England. We had a rehearsal recently, and they were all converted. They're like, 'We're gonna play football!'

Solers United – M&M'S

The theme of the competition is ‘belonging’. How would you say your short film encompasses that?

I want to show that feeling of belonging within a second family, essentially. Seeing these misfits, and really highlighting the different characters, and showing that there's always a place for someone. That's where the belonging comes from.

There are so many levels to being part of a team. You get to literally put your boots on, you're on the field, and that's all you’re worried about. I can't really explain that feeling of bonding, it's just really special, and I really want to highlight that. Female football teams do have problems: are you gonna get bums on seats? Are you going to make money? There are those things that you need to think about. That's the reality. It's gotten better, don't get me wrong, but we want to try and push for more.

What would be your absolute dream project in the future?

Generally my genre is dark comedy. There are two things I'm developing. One's called A Big Snip, and it tackles what it is to be a good Muslim. It's about a convert, and there's a bit of circumcision in it. Hopefully we'll get funding for that. And then the big one would be a feature. In terms of dream people to work with, a casting director would be Shaheen Baig. I just did a panel with her the other day, and I am planning to email her! That one's loosely based on my family, and it's about being a second-generation immigrant and what that looks like, because you have very different people who live in different worlds, and I think there's a lot of comedy to play around with in that.

Solers United – M&M'S

You win an Oscar one day. Who are you thanking in your speech?

Number one would be my mum, 100%. She's like the rock in my life. She's amazing. I don't even know where she got it from, but she's obsessed with Jackie Chan. She's like, “Sara, just think of Jackie Chan. I think Jackie Chan had some hard times to get where he is.” My other one would be Meg Salter. She was the person I did my first short film with – and the most recent one, F**ked, which has done really well, she wrote and acted in it. She has been brilliant for supporting me and believing in me. As a filmmaker, it can be quite lonely sometimes, and it has its ups and downs. So it's really nice if, when you're down, you've got a support network. The last one is my bestie from Switzerland. Her name is Ezra. She was the one in Bali who was like “Sara, I think you need to get into directing and creating. I think that's your world.” She believed in me when I didn't know what to do.

What's your favourite type of M&M’S?

The peanut ones. I love the peanut ones. I always get them, and the yellow ones specifically are the ones I go for, even though there's no taste difference!




Stills photography by Hansof Waller.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us