Just Film Works in Progress

Highly Inflammable

United Kingdom, Spain
youth film

After music, boys and politics put a strain on their teenage friendship, an old punk must decide whether or not it is worth reconnecting with her childhood best friend after 40 years.


As teenagers growing up in turbulent 70s Britain, they were best friends. Then the music faded, the boys vanished and the political fervour waned, leaving behind a chasm of silence. 40 years later, in Brexit Britain, Jenny, who once thrived on rebellion and liberation, faces her most daunting decision yet. Should she resurrect her past by reconnecting with her estranged childhood confidant or does she risk reopening the wounds and conflicting interests?

More info about the project

In tumultuous 1970s Britain, teenagers Jenny and Sophia form an unbreakable bond. Their friendship is a patchwork of contrasts: Jenny, the fiery punk yearning to shatter the status quo; Sophia, the dreamy romantic, content in the world of boys and the glossy pages of Jackie magazine. As the call of a punk lifestyle grows louder for Jenny and the allure of Sophia’s racist, skinhead boyfriend, they drift apart. When Sophia faces the traumatic loss of her mother Jenny is too busy with her new band. This causes a dramatic rift that would haunt Jenny for decades. Now, 40 years later, Sophia wants to meet up. Jenny and Sophia must untangle the threads of a friendship that defined their youth. As they tentatively reach for reconciliation in a new Europe, fate intercedes in the cruellest of ways. Sophia's life is cut short by cancer, leaving Jenny distraught and full of regret. All that remains are the gifts Sophia prepared for her, tokens of a friendship unfulfilled.

Director's note:
Highly Inflammable began life as a play. I was commissioned by the Arts Council to write it in 2016 and it later performed to sell-out audiences in Hastings in 2017. After coming out of lockdown I wanted to do something local and manageable, and to bring a team of creatives together, so I decided to adapt Highly Inflammable for the screen. The story was inspired by the Brexit referendum. I got to thinking about why one half of the country felt one way, and the other half felt differently. Where did the division come from and could it ever be resolved? I wanted to explore what makes people who had previously got on, even loved each other, become so bitter towards each other. I thought a good way of telling it would be through the story of two friends. The 70s were as turbulent as the current wave of political extremism in Europe and beyond, so the story resonates across the decades and of course the punk aesthetic feeds into that.

Producer's note:
Sadly with the rise of the far-right and populist, right-wing politics around the world, the racism and xenophobia haven’t changed much in 40-odd years. This is what Highly Inflammable explores. We’ve all been there - does nostalgia make us want to forgive and forget the worst? Or should we stick to our principles and accept that people move on in life? We are looking for financing partners who are moved by this fresh approach to political turmoil and are excited to get on board a dynamic punk film with great potential for family viewing and cult following from older and younger audiences alike. A production partner from a country with a strong punk music scene would be ideal to set and film a storyline in that country – initial thoughts are with Estonia or Germany, but could expand to others. We’re also looking for an animation partner, distributor and general financing.

Rose Kowalski
Director, Screenwiter
Cheryl White
Lost for Words, Horizontal Films
Project Status
490000 €
252000 €
Looking for
distributors, festivals, co-producers, sales agent, technical participation, private funds / banks, broadcasters, gap-financing, gap-financing
Contact name
Rose Kowalski
Contact email
Contact web
Cheryl White
Director, Screenwiter
Cheryl White

A multi-award-winning writer/director Cheryl's films have screened around the world. Highly Inflammable is her first feature. Her short 'n Which Loneliness Suffers a Loss won the Best Short, South Coast ff (2022); Audience Award, Hastings Rocks 2022, and two gold awards as part of the One Earth festival (2022). She also won the Fan Award 2018 at the White Whale Festival (USA), and Best Sussex Short 2017, Crossing the Screen (UK) for her part-animated film, A Lighthouse in Breaking Waves.

Givery Takery, 2023, https://vimeo.com/843231615 In Which Loneliness Suffers a Loss, 2022, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt20455122/ A Lighthouse in Breaking Waves, 2016, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5461180/ Anyone’s Game, 2012, https://vimeo.com/40586011 In Which a Wife Suffers a Loss, 2011, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2306575/

Rose Kowalski
Rose Kowalski

British filmmaker and producer specialising in independent, creative storytelling based in Catalonia, Spain. Year of the Artist award winner (Arts Council of England), Best Iberoamerican Documentary, DOCSDF winner for El Club (Director) and Bancoco (Producer) won Best Writer Quetzalcoatl Indigenous IFF; Best Director Geneve Awards; and Best Documentary London Independent Film Awards.

Bancoco, 2023, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt23788650/ McCurry The Pursuit of Color, 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11226218/ El Secreto del Doctor Grinberg, 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11898888/ Autoterápia, 2019, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11034702/ El Club, 2009, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2630660/