Cleft Lip (Film)

Communication, Culture and Media

Project Website

What happens when fertility becomes a commodity in a fractured society? Oedipus reborn. Sophocles’ classic of classics adapted for the 21st Century by Erik Knudsen into a contemporary tragedy about the unravelling of the most fundamental of relationships in society; that between a father, a mother and a child. The prize winning feature film, Cleft Lip, is set in the context of a world where donor eggs and sperm are freely traded as increasing numbers of people are having to resort to fertility treatment as a consequence of social changes, individual decisions and biological imperatives.

Research Statement

Cleft Lip constitutes practice research located within the field of narrative independent film and world cinema. The film forms part of Knudsen’s ongoing critical and practical exploration of transcendent narrative forms and the impact of technologically inspired independence on the telling of prototypical stories (Booker 2004, Hogan 2003).

Heritage and histories are critical to framing our present and shaping our futures. While the digital revolution has liberated our access to moving image technology, it has not necessarily yet liberated our attachment to the hegemony of the Hollywood dominated approach to telling prototypical stories; an approach that usually reaffirms an attachment and aspiration to abundance, complexity and the spectacular. With reference to previous applied theoretical outputs by Knudsen, including the monograph Finding The Personal Voice In Filmmaking and the journal articles, The Total Filmmaker and Zen and The Art of Film Narrative, Cleft Lip explores, through micro budget film practice that is empowering a new generation of independent filmmakers, new ways of engaging with elements of composition, performance, editing, sound and narrative structure to create an independent cinematic paradigm that can truly liberate the cinematic storyteller from existing hegemonic approaches to telling the epic and prototypical story. Situating Cleft Lip within the seminal literary adaptation contexts of Joyce (Ulysses, 1922), and the seminal cinematic adaptation contexts of Bresson (L’Argent, 1984 from Dostoyevski), Kaurismäki (Crime and Punishment, 1983, from Dostoyevski), Pasolini (The Gospel According To Saint Matthew, 1964, from the New Testament) and Kieslowski (Dekalog, 1989, from The Old Testament), supplemented by the theoretical works of Booker (The Seven Basic Plots, 2004) and Koestler (The Act of Creation, 1964) and Hogan (The Mind And Its Stories, 2003), Cleft Lip has taken on the classics of classics, Sophocles’ Oedipus, for which there are no contemporary cinematic adaptations, and created a world’s first film adaptation rooted in the contemporary everyday.

Cleft Lip was produced by One Day Films Ltd and is the winner of Best Feature Film at the Black Star International Film Festival 2018 and the Best Foreign Film at the Lebanese Independent Film Festival 2018. Cleft Lip is due for UK theatrical release from the 8 March 2019 and worldwide VOD release (iTunes, Amazon Prime and Google Play) on the 15 March 2019.