Melbourne-made award winning indie Pretty Good Friends has been selected to screen as part of Classic and Cameo Cinemas Australian Film Focus series, with special Q&A screenings scheduled for 7 and 9 May.
Pretty Good Friends has been dubbed Australia’s first mumblecore film, the unique film subgenre that shot Lena Dunham (HBO’s Girls)to fame. The termwas first coined in 2005 at America’s South by Southwest Film Festival, and is classified by low budgets, unpolished, ‘real’ sounding dialogue, real places and a departure from simplistic plot structures common to movies designed for mass appeal.
Emerging writer and director Sophie Townsend (Amalume Films) was inspired to create a Melbourne mumblecore film using a small cast and crew and an even smaller budget.
“I wanted to create a story that captured Melbourne on screen in a way I had not seen before, utilising some of it’s less explored nooks and crannies,” says Sophie.
“We wanted our actors to have a major input in creating their characters. Improvised dialogue and blocking was encouraged, and we even sought their input in costume design.”
Pretty Good Friends recently won Best International Feature at the StarLite Film Festival (Florida), and is the only Australian film in the Going Green Film Festival (Los Angeles), screening throughout April via VOD service Roku, available to over 8 million viewers.
The film tells the story of Jules (Jenni Townsend), who moves home to Melbourne with the hopes of re-inventing herself in time for her 25th birthday. She moves in with her childhood friend, Sam (Rain Fuller), and Sam’s long-term boyfriend Alex (Nathan Barillaro). Juggling the rekindling of an old friendship while an exciting new one emerges tests the boundaries of friendship and puts Jules in a dangerous position.
A combination of comedy, romance and drama, Pretty Good Friends confronts the idea of the ‘emotional affair’ and how human connection can inspire and ignite unknown truths within us, for better or worse. Set against a real representation of Melbourne, the film provides an intimate and raw portrayal of three young people on a journey of self-definition.
Jenni Townsend is writer-director-actor of her own feature film The Pull, shot in Glasgow, Scotland. The film won Best Foreign Feature at Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival.
“Pretty Good Friends finally gives audiences an accurate representation of the beautiful city of Melbourne and the young people living and struggling in it. It shows us people who remind us of ourselves or our friends or our siblings – real people with complex problems we can relate to,” says Jenni.
Rain Fuller has played the female lead in an international feature film shot on the banks of the Ganges River in India, as well as co-starring in two other Australian indie features, Experience the Knowing and Sizzler ‘77. She is the co-creator of web series Two Refugees and a Blonde, launching online in June.
“With my character Sam on the receiving end of a potential ‘emotional affair’, it got me thinking about how there are not many common values surrounding it, when there are many for a physical affair. So it makes it tricky to answer: at what point do you deem it to be an affair?” says Rain.
“I also love the quirkier corners of Melbourne Pretty Good Friends showcases – like the $2 slash barber shop, and the horror room in the local DVD store.”
Nathan Barillaro co-wrote Pretty Good Friends and wrote, directed and starred in his own feature Metaffliction, released globally via nobudge.com, a curated VOD site for quality independent films, acclaimed by The New Yorker and The Wall St. Journal.
“Pretty Good Friends is an enjoyable and unpretentious example of contemporary micro-budget Australian cinema. I love that it was made with a bare-bones crew and shot with minimal technical resources,” says Nathan.
Cinematographer Tom Swinburn shot Pretty Good Friends using a handheld camera, with a fly-on-the-wall, cinema verite style of filmmaking. Tom holds an MA in Film & TV from Victorian College of the Arts (Most Bold and Innovative Award) and his directorial debut, Islands Apart, is due to be released later this year.
7 May Classic Cinemas
9 May Cameo Cinemas
Classic Cinemas, 9 Gordon St, Elsternwick
Cameo Cinemas, 1628 Burwood Highway, Belgrave
A Q&A with actors Jenni Townsend, Rain Fuller, Nathan Barillaro as well as director Sophie Townsend and cinematographer Tom Swinburn will follow the screening.