Perth filmmaker Levon J Polinelli is no stranger to DIY filmmaking, with his first feature Everybody Gets Stabbed! delivering a splatter of microbudget genre cinema delight. What many might not know is that besides being a creative mastermind, Levon is also deeply fascinated by some of the most bizarre aspects of Australian history. Case in point: The Emu War.
With that in mind, we’re beyond excited to help announce the launch of the Kickstarter campaign for Levon’s new film:
EMU WAR: A SUBTLE EXAMINATION OF THE SHEER CAUCASITY OF COLONIALISM
Catface Productions is ecstatic to announce the second feature film from visionary DIY film making runaway freight train Levon J Polinelli, which is currently in production across Perth with a superstar lineup of talent both in front of and behind the cameras.
For his entire life, Reginald Fitzpatrick-Matheson has wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and serve his country; after enlisting on his eighteenth birthday, Reginald is thrust in to the one war Australia has lost and must reckon with his colonial views.
“I’ve long wanted to tell the story of the emu war, but the actual events of it aren’t exactly narratively rich, so I could never quite work out what the angle was, or if it was a musical, a film, or a theatre piece,” says writer/director/producer/editor Levon J Polinelli. “It all kinda hit me around the time of the horrific 2019 bushfires, plus the pandemic gave me the time I’d never had before to really think about it, and I realised there was a commonality – the hubris of colonialism. We were scratching our heads as to why the emu population had exploded after creating the wheatbelt, in effect a giant buffet that meant they had a constant food source, when the people who lived here for 80,000 years could’ve told us that was going to happen; then cut to a hundred years later and we’re still not listening to this vast and deep knowledge base on how best to manage and live with the country. We’re just bulldozing our way through thinking we know what’s best because it worked in England, and that’s when it hit me that this is the thematic playground I want to be mucking around in on this story.”
“We’ve had an absolute blast shooting at amazing locations already like Perth Mess Hall, The Railway Museum, the streets of Fremantle and Ern Halliday Recreation Camp to recreate 1932 Perth, and we’ve got some even crazier stuff coming up around the metro area, as well as the outback. I’ve even conscripted my own mother in to making our army uniforms, so to say it’s a real family affair is an understatement!”
“Working with Simon Holland as director of photography has been a wonderful ‘first date’. We went to school together many moons ago, and the movie I made back then in high school actually inspired him to get in to the industry – that you don’t need ‘permission’, you really can just go make a movie – so to now be working together after all these years feels like a crazy convergence of fate.”
Shooting is taking place across weekends throughout May and June, and while the project has been self-funded by Levon J Polinelli to the tune of $10,000, they’ve just launched a crowdfunding campaign to help finish off the war effort.
“This is a Western Australian story, that should be told by Western Australians; and as much as I like to go big and dumb and niche with my film-making sensibilities, I also don’t want them to be empty calories. This is a movie with giant nightmare murder birds that’s Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Jurassic Park by way of Evil Dead 2, but there’s a lot of heart, that speaks to how we can improve; because if we’re not trying to make things better then what are we even doing?”
The film is aiming to be completed by December 2022, and is targeting festivals such as Sundance and South By SouthWest, because in the words of Polinelli: “I think we’re really making something special here, that speaks a lot to colonialism and how we can reckon with it in the modern age; and, well, why the hell not aim big?”
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