St Albans actress to debut story about a dementia sufferer and his carer at film festival

PUBLISHED: 18:30 28 June 2018

Leigh-Anne Gilbert in 'Kayla'. (Picture: Leigh-Anne Gilbert)

Leigh-Anne Gilbert in 'Kayla'. (Picture: Leigh-Anne Gilbert)


An actress who grew up in St Albans is debuting her short film about a man with dementia at the St Albans Film Festival.

Leigh-Anne Gilbert in 'Kayla'. (Picture: Leigh-Anne Gilbert)Leigh-Anne Gilbert in 'Kayla'. (Picture: Leigh-Anne Gilbert)

Leigh-Anne Gilbert, 32, wrote and starred in the short film ‘Kayla’, which is the story of a young carer looking after an elderly man with dementia. Stanley, the elderly man, believes that the protagonist Sarah (played by Leigh-Anne) is his granddaughter Kayla, and Sarah does not correct him.

Leigh-Anne, who grew up in Sandridge and attended Sandringham School, said: “[Sarah] needs love and affection just as much as he does. She’s had a tough life as well because her nan died some years ago and she has a bad relationship with her mother.

“She gets found out by his daughter that she’s pretending to be his granddaughter. I really wanted to explore what would happen if she did the wrong thing but for the right reasons. It’s got an ambiguous ending - there’s a lot of discussion to have after the film.”

Leigh-Anne had never written or starred in a short film before, and drew inspiration from her own relationship with her grandmother. She said: “When I was a teenager my grandmother was in a care home and I didn’t visit as much as I should. I still carry that guilt with me.

Leigh-Anne Gilbert in 'Kayla'. (Picture: Leigh-Anne Gilbert)Leigh-Anne Gilbert in 'Kayla'. (Picture: Leigh-Anne Gilbert)

“I’ve always had a good relationship with the older generation. I’ve worked at the Alban Arena for about six years and we have had a lot of care homes that come and visit and they were some of my favourite people.

“Stanley, played by Alan Rothwell, is mischievous and hilarious and brilliant.”

The film was directed by John Dower, who previously taught Leigh-Anne at East 15 Acting School in Essex. Leigh-Anne said: “We just worked very well together, we’re very much into improvisation, and three or four years down the line we finally got this film done together. I wanted some more footage for my show reel.

“As soon as we had Alan come on board we knew we were really going somewhere.”

Leigh-Anne Gilbert in 'Kayla'. (Picture: Leigh-Anne Gilbert)Leigh-Anne Gilbert in 'Kayla'. (Picture: Leigh-Anne Gilbert)

‘Kayla’ will be shown in the main short films category at St Albans Film Festival, on Sunday, July 1 in Torrington Hall on Holywell Hill.

The film will be played as part of a selection of short films between 11.30am and 2pm. To buy tickets go to

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