A DEAF schoolgirl from Upper Stratton was overjoyed when she won the Best Actress award at an international film festival.

Five-year-old Maisie Sly plays the lead role of Libby in The Silent Child, which explores the relationship between a deaf child and her hearing parents and their struggles to communicate with each other.

The film was made to raise awareness of the issues around hearing impairment and improve audiences’ understanding of the condition.

It won the Best Live Action Short award at the the Rhode Island International Film Festival earlier this week and its little leading lady was also honoured with an award for her remarkable performance.

Her father Gilson Sly was thrilled to bits with the wins.

He said: “It was surreal, we we felt immensely proud of Maisie and The Silent Child team.

“It’s amazing that the film’s message is being received and welcomed by viewers.

“Maisie says she was shocked and excited when she won.

“We went to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate and celebrate what we’d achieved.

"It’s amazing and we’ve only just started the festival trail.”

Maisie auditioned for the role earlier this year and wowed the film’s creators.

She flew out to the film festival in Providence, Rhode Island, last week with her family to see its international premiere.

The young actress was very excited to travel to America and go on her first-ever trip abroad.

In its list of award-winners, the festival highlighted Maisie’s star quality.

It commented: “Maisie Sly is a young girl who proves that being different makes you special and that talent and passion comes in all shapes and sizes.”

It could be the first of many wins for the short film, as its success at the RIIFF now makes it eligible for BAFTA and Oscar consideration.

The Silent Child will also be screened at the world-famous Chinese Theatre in Hollywood for the Holly Short International Film Festival later this year.

Maisie’s co-star Rachel Shenton organised a special surprise screening of the short film at Maisie’s school Red Oaks Primary in June.

The former Hollyoaks star plays a social worker who comes in to help Libby when she develops behavioural problems due to feeling isolated.

Rachel is an ambassador for the National Deaf Children's Society.