Film festival award for film starring Liverpool Hope Musical Theatre lecturer

A film starring a lecturer at Liverpool Hope University has been recognised with an award at an international film festival hosted in the UK.

Our Kid, which features Musical Theatre Course Leader, Sharon Byatt, won Best Film at the 2023 Birmingham Film Festival.

Launched in 2016, the annual festival showcases professional and independent films from around the world, with the best  nominated for a range of awards, which are judged by a grand jury comprising four BAFTA winners.

Based on the multi-award-winning short film, Thomas, Our Kid tells the powerful story of the Liverpool-based Reilly family, who learn to deal with adversity through humour after being struck with devastating news which forces them to adapt their lives.

Byatt plays the role of Reilly family matriarch, Tracey, as part of an all-star British cast which also includes BAFTA-nominated Ricky Tomlinson and Connor McIntyre, who is best known for his portrayal of Coronation Street villain, Pat Phelan.

The film follows her on-screen daughter, Laura, a football-mad 12-year-old, who dreams of playing for Liverpool. Laura has her football heroes, but her idol is her older brother, Thomas, portrayed by the film’s writer, Daniel P. Lewis, who also won Best Actor at the Birmingham Film Festival.

Despite having cerebral palsy, Thomas embarks on an inspirational quest to raise money for charity through a sponsored bike ride, showing Laura and the rest of his community what determination and perseverance can achieve.

Reflecting on the award, Byatt said: “I’m incredibly proud of every single person who contributed to the making of this film.

“To have an independent Liverpool film recognised in this way is a testament to all involved. I have to mention Daniel Lewis whose tenacity and drive made it all happen.”

Byatt has enjoyed a 30-year acting career which has seen her star on stage as well as screen. She played Irenee in 90s sitcom Bread, as well as Sue Freeman in Sky soap opera, Springhill with appearances in Coronation Street and Moving On also.

She also has the honour of being the only actress to have played Mrs Johnstone, Linda and Mrs Lyons in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers both on the West End and touring stages.

Based in the School of Creative and Performing Arts, she is now responsible for training the next generation of aspiring actors and actresses, who benefit from her continued work as a director, producer and performer.