How to Please a Woman Producers Judi Levine & Tania Chambers Talk Desexualising Bodies, Filming in Freo, and Gender Matters in This Interview

Making its world debut at the 2021/22 Perth International Arts Festival Lotterywest Films line-up is Renée Webster’s uproarious and joyful comedy How to Please a Woman. With its sessions instantly selling out, followed by another sell out screening at the WA Made Film Festival, and an encore week in April 2022 that also sold out instantly, it’s clear that there’s a huge appetite for this truly magnificent WA made comedy. (Tip: Perth based folks will want to jump on the upcoming May 5th gala screening at Luna Leederville before that sells out.)

How to Please a Woman tells the story of Gina (a wonderful Sally Phillips), a 50-something woman who gets the idea to turn a failing removalist company into an all-male house-cleaning service, an idea which itself turns into something a little bit more cheeky. As she starts to discover the possibilities of this new business, her friends start to discover (or rediscover) their own sexual freedoms.

Producers Judi Levine and Tania Chambers helped bring a film which I’ve personally called ‘an instant comedy classic that delights as much as it moves’ to life, and in this fantastic interview, they both open up about what it means to desexualize the human body, celebrate sexual freedom and exploration, and what it means to see stories that people can identify with on screen.

How to Please a Woman launches across Australia on May 19th. Keep track of screening information at the Madman website here.

How To Please A Woman – gosh, my partner and I were crying with laughter all the way to the end. It is a wonderful film. Congratulations to you both.

Judi Levine: Thank you so much. That’s really lovely.

It was my most anticipated film of the year. When I first saw the first trailer, I was on board, and then sitting down to watch it… It’s an easy five-star film. I don’t do ratings, but this is an easy five-star film. I know it’ll be a huge success. Congratulations.

JL: From your lips, from your lips, as they say. Thank you, Andrew.

We’re very happy with the way Perth looks and Freo. We think we really captured something special about Western Australia and Perth and Freo on the beaches and the cityscapes. Everything about it really is great from that point of view. We’re very pleased.

And what about yourself, Tania? I know you’re a huge champion of local films. You must be so thrilled to have this out there too.

Tania Chambers: To work with someone like Renée Webster whose talent was clear from when she did her short films all those years ago. I loved her short film, Scoff (2003) and the subsequent ones, and then she’s had a really fine award-winning career in commercials. But, the challenge to actually get a feature film script right as a writer, never mind direct it! She had exactly the right tone that we wanted. We wanted it to be heartfelt. We wanted it to be funny, but we didn’t want broad comedy, we were really absolutely targeting that Full Monty and Calendar Girls kind of tone. We wanted it to be something that would make you laugh, but the next minute would kick you in the guts as well. And she did that, she managed to get that tone.

The balance of the comedy and the drama, it’s such a tightrope to be able to actually pull that off successfully. But as you’re saying, the comedy and the emotionality there is just so powerful. There are moments where you are laughing your guts out and then you’re in tears moments later. Not because it’s really devastating but there is an authenticity here. How important for you both was that authenticity to carry that through in both the story, performance, and the direction?

TC: The notion of showing real people, real bodies, real women’s bodies, real older women’s bodies, real older men’s bodies, and faces and lines and so on – you don’t actually get to see any of that these days. It’s quite shocking. I don’t know if it came to your attention watching it, but it’s kind of being erased from most of our screens, to be honest. And never mind lives sometimes. That was really, really important to us. And that’s the physical side of the authenticity.

But the emotional side was really intense as well. We wanted to be able to show both men and women, non-binary people as vulnerable. Sexuality and sensuality is a way where everybody is vulnerable. And it was a vehicle to be able to explore that, wasn’t it, Jude?

JL: Yes, yes. I think that the thing that I gravitate towards, probably both Tania and I, is if something resonates with you then and you feel moved by it, you hope that audiences will be as well. And when I read the script, immediately there were so many things on the page that I connected with, that I’d either experienced myself or knew other people who had with men and women. And so that makes for better storytelling.

In this particular genre, you want people to feel that they relate to who’s on the screen and not feel that they’re just watching the Ken and Barbies of the world who are always gorgeous, and they say, “Okay, well, that was a nice story,” but not something that they even think for two minutes about when they leave. So being able to bring that sort of authenticity and depth really to a story that gives people something to walk out of the cinema and think about, which is not just the storyline but also what they’ve seen. Which is, as Tania is referring to, this kind of exposure of stuff that’s been left off our screens, because somehow [it’s] regarded as inappropriate or no one wants to see that. You know, no one wants to see a woman walking down the beach and pulling her bathers down to cover up her bum. But that’s so typical. We’ve all done it. We do it all the time. Maybe men don’t. But women do it all the time.

I certainly do.

JL: There you go. In your budgie smugglers. We didn’t want to shy away from that stuff, and just perpetuate that. We wanted to break those taboos. And Renée is fantastic at doing that. She’s willing to do that. So it was great.

The immediate film that came to mind when I finished watching this was Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz. I don’t know if you’ve both seen it, but in that film, there are shower sequences where they desexualize a woman’s body and they desexualize the ageing body. And it is just matter of fact. And that’s what I loved about this film, it is just matter of fact. And it feels organic and natural, and it doesn’t feel like it’s “Oh, look at these people, look at these bodies.” It is simply sitting there and going “this is what happens every day”. If you’re going to the beach and you go down to the change rooms, this is what’s going to happen regardless of if it’s the men’s room or the women’s room. This is what we do. But that gets pushed off screen. And it feels so natural here. So it leans into what you’re saying about that. Have either of you seen that film, Take This Waltz?

JL: I haven’t seen it, I don’t know it. But I’ll have to look it up.

It touches on similar themes in a very dramatic way – it’s a very emotional film in a lot of ways, but that’s the film that came to mind after watching How to Please a Woman. It reinforces how important it is to desexualise the human body because so often it is presented in a physical, arousing manner. For you as producers, was that a key thing to highlight while also representing the sexual desire of women and non-binary folks and queer folks as well?

JL: Absolutely. When Gina, our character, is talking at the end of the film and she says, “It’s for all those women who haven’t given up on sex,” and that sense of reaching a certain age and feeling that you’re not desirable anymore, or you don’t still have some interest in sex, or that somehow just because your body has the shape and the scars of having carried children or just worked a long time or just gravity, that those things don’t make you necessarily feel disinterested in sex. We want all of that, and I think it was a real thing for Tania and I to go out there and be able to say that out loud, shout it from the rooftops, “Come on people, let’s keep having an interest. It doesn’t even have to be intercourse, it can just be touching, it can just be intimacy in so many different ways.” And this was a great opportunity to say that, and I think says it very succinctly.

Those sorts of difficult subjects are so much more approachable for audiences when there’s humour woven in with it so that they can laugh about it because it’s a little bit awkward or whatever the case might be, but still it really puts it out there. And we’ve had men say, “Oh, I’m learning stuff here.” And you’re like, “Whoa, were you just such a terrible person in bed before this?” (laughs) I think that’s been really important for both of us to put that out there. It’s interesting, because Renée’s younger than me, and yet she was able to really put that out there in a way, write those words and give those women that dialogue and those characters that really represent that in such a terrific way.

How about for you, Tania? Does that really reinforce what you want to do as a producer?

TC: Yeah, indeed. What’s interesting about this film right now is that it fits into all the discussions that are going on at the moment in the context of everything from gender equality and Me Too and looking at the notion of people being able to speak out and also control and own their own bodies, the notion of consent, all sorts of things.

It was interesting – we just watched it again this morning actually, had another little screening at Backlot for some people – and I’ve been doing some discussions and talks and things in that space lately. And I was finding the thread in so many of them, lines that were coming through what is in the script and in the performances, and realising that it’s part of a really much bigger discussion that’s going on at the moment. It’s really timely, but again, as Jude said, so succinct.

When the beautiful character played by Hayley McElhinney says, “Is everything you’ve ever learned about sex from porn?” His reaction is hilarious – he doesn’t even speak! He just looks at her. And then that little moment that talks about listening with your hands and so on. You could write books and books about that, but it’s all distilled down into that little moment. And there’s so many other moments like that that were very carefully crafted to do that. I’m really proud that it’s speaking to people of all different ages and different sexual identification as well.

Tania Chambers & Judi Levine

JL: And we worked extremely hard to make sure that it was that it was sensitive, that it wasn’t exploitative, that there was a voice from both genders and also from people who weren’t necessarily just heterosexual. I mean, we wanted to be sure that that was there. And it’s not entirely a thing about flipping the male gaze, it’s there to give people a sense that this is a subject you can talk about, and let’s be more open about it, and let’s listen to each other more when it comes to what we want and what we feel we’re comfortable asking for or not asking for everywhere. At work, at home, in the bedroom.

That is one of the things which I have found is mentioning this film to people in the lead up to watching it last week and then talking about, “Hey, you know, you guys should really go and check this out, get your tickets now.” And the women who I’ve talked to and mentioned, “You should go and check this out” have been like, “Yes, this sounds like exactly the kind of thing I need to drag my partner along to.’ And then the men have been like, “Oh, you know, it must be a very short film.”

JL: (laughs)

TC: (laughs)

The reactions are just like [making me go] “Far out. No, you’re the people that actually need to watch this.” What was the kind of reaction when you started off with the script and talking with Renée? Were there any kind of similar reactions to that, especially with the title itself?

TC: Look, I think the title very deliberately… as you would know, we’re in an international marketplace seeking funding against tens, hundreds of thousands of other scripts. And we needed to stand out. We do get the privilege of going to international marketplaces, but it’s not quite as glamorous as it sounds, because we’re doing ten half hour meetings and all of the elevator pitches every time you pick up a glass of wine, all day for ten days or so, and trying to get someone – “Buy me, buy me.”

So the title was actually quite cheekily and deliberately chosen so that you knew they would not forget you at the end of those ten days. That title is not going to go away. But it did immediately get a reaction from every single person and a lot of the people that you’re pitching to still in our industry are men in senior executive positions. And so that was always something that was kind of – for a start, it was fun for Jude and I. (laughs) Because we’re cheeky.

JL: We did have a lot of fun.

TC: Basically. Top priority in there is to have fun. But also it did cause that reaction. As soon as you’ve got any kind of reaction, you’ve got a greater chance of getting it over the line. So it was partly because we are passionate about the content. It was also from a business sense that we were quite acutely aware of the marketing hook in a way.

JL: Seriously, people still get the title wrong when you tell them what it is. (laughs) But mostly, it’s attracted an enormous amount of attention. And it does, as you as you pointed out, Andrew, you always get all those funny comments about “Oh yeah, that’s never going to be possible” or whatever the case might be, but it sticks, as Tania says. It really sticks.

It does. What are some of the alternative versions of the title that you’ve heard?

TC: Oh god. I don’t think there’s any problem saying this but way back it was “Her Predilection.” I don’t even know, Judi, if you remember that.

But it was exciting as this was one of the Gender Matters Task Force projects at Screen Australia that was funded. I think it’s 2016, we’ve been working on it certainly since then. It had other titles at different times. But I do remember that one which we knew wouldn’t stick, it was a working title. But god, it was a gobful. (laughs)

JL: Oh yes, I remember that.

It doesn’t stick in the same way as How To Please A Woman does. How important has the Gender Matters program been? And how successful has it been?

TC: I’m a little bit biased because I’m actually on the task force at the moment. I think what is fascinating is that the research that’s been done – and there was a report just recently that was released and is up on the Screen Australia website – there have been a number of key interventions and levers that have led to greater gender equality in certain areas. And the most dramatic of those is in scripted TV drama where Screen Australia introduced a requirement that for anything that had more than one block or in any series, there had to be at least one female director in the series. That has really dramatically changed the number of female directors, and now we know we have internationally successful and multiple choices to be able to make of female directors now for television.

Features, it’s still a big challenge in the directing area. It’s quite different in various roles of producers and writers, but still in the scripted area still very challenging with writers. I’m mostly talking about drama here rather than factual. But what is quite dramatic is the areas in which Screen Australia has not been involved and the state agencies, there are real, real issues. That’s more if you look at reality TV and you look at different types of content that’s made that Screen Australia doesn’t fund. Absolutely debacle kind of percentages still.

The other massive thing is that when you look at heads of department in various areas trying to get gender parity there is just a massive challenge still. The cinematographers have been great, and Australian Cinematographers Society has got into it. They’re really, really focused on how do they get people through the ranks and get people to have a chance. And so we’re looking at all sorts of different strategies there.

For us, it was very big, because it was Renée’s first feature script – certainly first produced as a writer, and then separately as a director. And also from WA. Until Jub Clerc’s film Sweet As and ours, in all of the West Coast Visions’ films, there may have been producers or writers who were female, I think, but there wasn’t a female director until those. I don’t know if it would be a decade that that scheme has been running. So the Gender Matters thing really just said, “We have picked you out of all of the talent in Australia as being talent to watch and to back.” And from that point, we then had superb development support from both Screenwest and Screen Australia and went from there. But many years and many drafts.

It’s pretty impressive. The work that’s been created here and obviously there’s a lot of women on board in the creative aspect of it. It is proudly a female-driven production, and it manages to show off WA in a really powerful manner. Does that feed back into the production a lot? How visual Fremantle is, how visual WA is presented onscreen? Is that as important as who’s behind the camera, what’s being produced?

TC: I think it is. Do you, Jude?

JL: Yes. It’s a broad statement to say but there’s a difference between the way women perceive the world and men perceive the world and what will stand out to them when they’re looking at what’s available in front of the lens. There’s definitely a different atmosphere in the whole filmmaking process. So when you’re sort of marrying that, bringing a woman’s sensibility who’s directing and writing and the rest of the women on the crew – in our case, 50% of the crew were women – as you bring all of that together, you bring results to the finished product which is likely to have been different to the way a man would have done the same thing.

That is a broad generalisation. I’ve known men to create very sensitive films and tell women characters perfectly well, so I don’t think that you can draw a hard line. But I do think that Tanya and I, in particular – and with this film in particular, which is very women-centric both in content and in the storytelling – saw all of the benefits of having all that. We did have a male DP (Ben Nott) which was an interesting balance. It just worked out that way, as so many things do. We did set out to crew with as many women as possible and have as many of the heads of department as women as possible. Pretty much all the major decision making was by women. The sensibility to the material makes a difference when you’ve got a community of women working to make this project come together and succeed.

TC: Also in relation to Freo and WA on screen as well, what I’m aware of is – and Jude’s heard me say this before – but we are more familiar with the streets of LA, and most of the viewers in the world are, and of New York than we are of our own cities. And that’s kind of nuts.

That’s crazy, isn’t it?

TC: We’re so spoiled in WA. One of the things that people talked about for years was in the context of not having a studio like other places did, we used to say that the locations and the extraordinary scenery was our outback studio. And in a way, the point of difference [is] the way in which we see our place as well. That was what was really lovely, because both Renée and I are – Jude, you love the water as well, and Renée and I swim regularly. She’s a proper swimmer, like in the film. I’m a bobber.

That’s me too.

JL: Somewhere in between.

TC: I call it like the slow bob. But none of us can stay out of the water. And I think that notion of the integration of all of that, I’m sure that’s got a whole lot of subconscious themes that are through the film one way or another. But it’s been something that gives me a massive amount of joy, putting WA locations up on the screen. In A Few Less Men, my second feature, I couldn’t get over the fact that perhaps in commercials but certainly not in feature or TV then, the Pinnacles had never actually been on the big screen.

I remember watching that and thinking exactly the same thing. And I did research at the time, and I was like, “This is nuts.”

TC: Look at this place. For me, there are some really special places in Kill Me Three Times. For example, apart from the extraordinary white sand dunes up at Lancelin and so on, but to be down at Boranup Forest down in Margaret River, those trees don’t look like anywhere else in the world. It is with great pride of being able to go (film there).

And it’s a little bit of trying to overcome the cultural cringe. In the general creative and arts world, it’s time for us to own the fact that we are world-class and at times excel beyond others. I don’t know about tall poppy stuff, but at least stopping having a cultural cringe as much as we can.

At the WA Screen Culture Awards, I think it was the mayor of Fremantle who said we have great sets down here. And it’s true. Watching I Met A Girl and then watching this and then even 100% Wolf which is an animated film – I watched that and I was like, “This is Fremantle, they put Fremantle into this film, it’s clearly Freo.” And there’s just something that’s so heartwarming about it, because Fremantle doesn’t look like any other city. I’ve been to a lot of places, a lot of big places, and it doesn’t have the same vibe, doesn’t have the same look, it’s got a different unique look to it.

TC: This is where politicians and others need to actually think and realise what a sense of pride in your place does. That’s much broader than what they’re thinking about in terms of taxpayer funding into culture and the arts. It is actually something that energises you and it’s something that makes you proud of where you are. And it is something that commits you to a place which is where you do business and do your exporting from and employ people from and all that stuff.

At times, I get very frustrated that people could be so short-sighted about what’s the big picture of the impact of culture and the arts in creating a sense of pride and distinct place and who we are. And community. I mean, we throw the words around but at the end of the day, what are the values that we in our society in Australia really believes about? And it’s those core things, that beautiful sense of community.

And that’s what’s represented in the film, this community, this group of women who support each other, and they’re all there to support one another, and in a different way, as well supporting local businesses, small businesses, and that in itself is something that’s quite charming as well. Like when Gina realises about the removalists, “Geez, gosh, this place is failing, I can’t let these guys be out of work.” And the sense of discovery that comes with realising what she can do is really exciting. That’s quite tangible. But that sense of community, the support for everybody else, the support for your friends, your local businesses is tangible in itself, and it reflects the sense of needing to support the local film industry as well. Talking about pride in particular for you both, what does it mean to be an Australian producer? What does it mean to be making Australian films?

JL: I’ve just spent 25 years living somewhere else and I don’t want to leave [here], I don’t want to leave. I love being an Australian producer, I’m happy being an international producer, really. I don’t sort of see myself boxed. I’ve had to be very patient as I’ve worked my way back into the Australian film industry. That’s not always easy when you’ve been away quite a while and everybody’s changed, or a lot of people have changed. You do come up against that tall poppy stuff still just because you’ve been away and have all this experience working in other places. It doesn’t really make you special, but it does mean you’ve got some valuable stuff to contribute. So I like to bring that in.

I’ve just had a ball working on two Australian films back-to-back. Falling For Figaro we shot in Scotland, but we came here to do post[production] on that. And then thank heavens, we got How To Please A Woman Up because otherwise I would have had to go back to LA, and I’ve had been able to stay here for two years. Probably a bit to the chagrin of my children who think that I ought to go back and see them. I’m doing that, but I would be happy not to, I’d actually be happy to stay here.

I think Australian producers should be proud of what they’re achieving over here. And it’s a different kind of system. But every system is competitive. You learn to work the system here. There’s an enormous amount of talent here and enthusiasm, and we’re good storytellers. And if we can even connect to people before the last 200 years, we’re connected to a community of people who’ve been telling stories for 60,000 years. We have a great sense of humour to bring to some of the stories we tell, and we can tell our own stories, and we can start telling stories that are more global or that have a sort of a broadly global appeal. I certainly think that with How To Please A Woman, this is something that the women I know all over the world will relate to this film. There’s no question about it.

These sorts of things that we’re talking about are without a doubt international, and that’s very appealing. Australia is producing more and more great stuff. It’s not always easy to get it seen overseas, there’s still sort of a sense, “Oh it’s Australian” kind of thing. Whereas the British somehow overcome that, people don’t shy away so much. But that seems to be shifting a little bit. And certainly streaming makes a big difference to that. That’s a whole other conversation about how many people get to see it in the theatre and how many people get to see it if you’re streaming, and how do we feel about that? I’m incredibly proud to be on these movies and the rest of the ones that I’ve got going with other people and what we’ve got going together, Tania and I in the future. I love being an Australian producer. I don’t know about Tania, maybe she hates it. Just kidding. (laughs)

TC: You can tell from my smile.

JL: People love Australians, too. It’s absolutely something that we wear proudly overseas. It’s great to be an Australian. They think very highly of us, love working with us. They love the fact that we’re pretty much straight. There’s no BS going on, you just want to cut to the chase, is this or isn’t this going to work? And let’s not tap dance around each other for ages having dinners and meetings before we make any kinds of decisions. They like that about us. They love our crews because they work hard but they keep a sense of humour about it. They don’t complain too much, they know how to have a good time. We’ve got a lot going for us when it comes to the world of entertainment, whether it’s film or theatre or any of those things.

And how about you, Tania? What does it mean to you?

TC: I love being fiercely Australian and also passionately internationally at the same time. My one frustration is that a lot of younger Aussie filmmakers say “I don’t want to make an Australian film.” And I keep saying to them Australian films can be local as well as resonate internationally in the subject matter. I look at the extraordinary filmmakers that have gone before us as Australian filmmakers and I am proud…

JL: Yes. Yes.

TC: be placed in the midst of them with three features under my belt. I look at the work and how they’ve actually touched people and been recognised for being world-class and (I’m) very, very proud to be amongst them.

JL: Also young people don’t go to Australian movies enough. And from a business point of view, one of the difficulties is that you can’t rely solely on an Australian box office to meet all of your needs and get a really strong return for your investors, whether it’s a government funding body or private investors, and there’s more and more of those coming in these days. You have to be able to make Australian films, if possible, that will have a wider reach. It’s not like Finland or Greece or any of those places are necessarily making films for an international market, but they love it when they do get international recognition.

But Australia – if we can be telling stories that have a wider reach, then from a business point of view, you want that and it’s the best way of promoting Australia. I mean, that’s the outreach, right? People see these films and then they think, “Oh, I want to go there” or “people are making movies over there like this. I want to see if I can work in the Australian industry.” Maybe we can set up more partnerships and so on and so forth. So keeping it going like that. I think you want to get that balance between making Australian films for Australians and having an outreach to a broader audience that’s beyond New Zealand.

It is a complex discussion. It’s one I continually have with people who read the site, fellow audience members, fellow filmmakers. Having written up the amount of feature films and short films that I’ve seen this year – like if it’s just feature films, I’ve seen over sixty Australian feature films that were released in 2021.

JL: Wow.

That’s a lot. And people are often surprised that there have been that many released. And then if you throw in the short films as well, we’re hitting over one hundred. And that’s a substantial amount of great films that are out there. But the awareness of them becomes a different thing altogether. And it’s a complex discussion which is a whole different kettle of fish.

TC: And when you look at what I was told was 600 films released in Australia last year, that’s the context people don’t know. Now I know some of those will be Hindi or Telugu or Cantonese or Mandarin and others, and some of those are the biggest box office of all of them, to be honest. But that many a week being released!

And then a lot of the films you will have seen didn’t come through the Screen Australia or regional funding agency system. And that can be exhilarating on the one hand and laudable. On the other hand, it can also mean that there’s not a pathway to get into that cinema type of release, not that cinema release is the only way to get there. But it is an intriguing thing, isn’t it, to work out how best to inform people and how best to get to that audience.

It’s interesting in the streaming world, as Jude is saying, a lot of our great directors from WA have now become very, very successful internationally, have been commissioned by streamers to make world-class films for their platforms. There seems to be a little less of an awareness of whether it’s Australian or not Australian once you hit a streamer,

That realisation or trying to figure out what is Australian and what isn’t, is so complex. Telling people that Mortal Kombat is technically an Australian film gets a lot of head-scratching going on, to say the least. Is there any final words that you want people to know about How To Please A Woman before watching the film?

JL: Come to the movie, and they’ll find out. (laughs) The idea is that it does appeal to a much broader audience than you expect. I think that they should come and see what an enjoyable night they could have when they come to see the movie, whether it’s at Somerville or anywhere else when it’s released. This is sort of a movie that we’ve discovered has a much wider demographic and enjoyment level than a lot of people might not otherwise think. Especially the younger people. The twenty-somethings relate to a lot of it. Men and women who are sexually active get it. Not every sexual experience is great, and some of that stuff about learning to ask for what you want or just you know, that there’s some variety out there.

When you do a trailer, it’s very hard to capture the more sensitive, sentimental aspect of the story, the more tender stuff of the story, and so it tends to leave you feeling like maybe it’s a romp. And I think the fact that it’s a more balanced, humorous and tender storytelling, it’s a great fun night. It’s a great feelgood movie. You come away, feeling great. Everybody was smiling today at the end of the screening, which was really terrific. But still that sense that it’s not just a really broad comedy, but that it has this lovely sort of balance between the tender and the humour is the other thing that I always want people to know.

TC: A couple of very practical things for me. One is what I’d love people to think about is that the Somerville is one of the great cinema venues in the world. It’s one of the great experiences. For me, it’s one of the things I identify Perth with. It’s just such a beautiful experience. And so people should take the opportunity to see it there. We will be releasing in May right across Australia in cinemas. But to have the opportunity, I think, with a WA audience under the stars at this time of the year – unique. An experience that you can’t match. And the other thing I suppose is that we’ve actually extended for New Year’s Eve, we’ve extended it to 12.30. So if anyone wants to bring their New Year’s Eve party to the film, when the film finishes at 10.30, we’re all just going to hang out till 12.30. Bring our own chook and a bottle of champagne and enjoy ourselves.

That sounds fantastic. That is a great idea. This is the kind of film that… well we got kicked out of the Backlot preview screening because we were sitting there, talking about the film so much afterwards. That’s how much we just wanted to sit there and keep talking about it. This is a real conversation-starter, which I think is really important. The realisation of one of the characters who is out of a relationship, and she’s realising that maybe she might be bi and she would like to try see what that kind of relationship is like, that was such a beautiful moment. Because it is something that I think that a lot of older people who have been in relationships had that realisation if their partner’s passed away, or they get divorced, or whatever has happened, and they had that realisation that “Oh, maybe I am something that I’ve not realised throughout my whole entire life.” And that I think is really beautiful and important. I want to thank you both for getting that aspect into the story as well because it means a lot.

TC: I love the comment “You sound like a young woman” and she laughs. Because it is to some extent potentially – well, it’s not for everyone – but a generational thing too where people are growing up seeing their sensuality and sexuality quite differently to when I grew up. It’s beautiful to give that acknowledgement to older people as well. You know, never mind including a whole section of our community. (laughs) And how great are those performances?

JL: Thank you.

They’re so good. Across the board, they’re just powerful. And they feel lived in. Every single one of the actors – even Erik as well, who I spoke to earlier in the year, and he’s such a delight to talk to – but they all feel like they’ve been waiting for this role in particular. That’s the kind of performance that they’re delivering here.

TC: I love talking to you. Thank you.

Thank you, Tania. Thank you, Judi. I really appreciate it.

JL: Thanks for being such a strong supporter of the film. Really appreciate it, that you really get it.

Andrew F Peirce

Andrew is passionate about Australian cinema, Australian politics, Australian culture, and Australia in general. Found regularly talking online about Sweet Country, and reminding people to watch Young Adult.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Curb on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!