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Sydney director's debut feature tackles existentialism in Around the Block

Sydney director's debut feature tackles existentialism in Around the Block

CREATED ON // Friday, 13 June 2014 Author // Cec Busby

Existentialism abounds in Sarah Spillane’s feature film debut, Around the Block.

Filmed and set in inner-city Redfern, writer/director Sarah Spillane’s breakthough feature film, Around the Block, chronicles the story of an idealistic American teacher, played by Christina Ricci, and her efforts to help a talented young Indigenous student Liam (Hunter Page Lochard) to fulfil his dreams of becoming an actor.

When Ricci’s character begins teaching her class Hamlet, she soon discovers Liam’s talent. But in order to pursue his dreams, Liam is going to have to walk away from his past.

Spillane said the idea for the film had been knocking around in her head for almost a decade before she eventually made her movie.

“I’ve been very interested in all types of philosophy, especially this concept of existentialism – and this notion of personal freedom,” she tells SX. “Are we as human beings truly free?

Watch the trailer for Around the Block

“It was back in 2000 and I was living in Redfern and it was a very torn and different place to what it is now. The people I was living with, and the students I was teaching at the time at the art school on Abercrombie Street, seemed about as far from that concept of freedom as you could get.”

Spillane says she began to mull the idea over in her head. “You can choose various characters to address a subject like that but because I was living in Redfern at the time, and these kids were as far from that concept as I could imaginem they became the perfect option to explore and tell the story.”
Spillane wrote her initial draft in just a couple of days but was so intrigued by the subject she kept revisiting the film over the years until she was finally satisfied with the script.

GALLERY: Around the Block


“I’m very much drawn to human issues and philosophical issues,” Spillane says. “It touched on so many subcultures too that these issues resonate with. It’s not an Aboriginal story, it’s not a lesbian story but it is a story about underdogs and these people that come together from different lives and worlds and despite their differences, they’re both trying to achieve personal freedom and the ability to live an authentic life and take control of the future.”

Spillane says she can relate just as easily to Ricci’s character as that of Liam; saying his journey is a metaphor for any young kid to come out to their parents about something important. Liam’s ‘coming out’ to his dad and saying he’s not going to follow the same path as his father chose.

Still Spillane says she doesn't want to spoon feed the audience glib homilies.

“What I love is when an audience see a film and it initiates discussion. It makes you look at life differently or re-evaluate your values. And people do want to talk about Around the Block.

“In the end I just hope it makes them think.”

[Image] Around the Block ... Hunter Page Lochard and Christina Ricci. Photo: Supplied

Around the Block screens at the Cremorne Orpheum on Monday, June 16, and Randwick Ritz on Monday, June 23. Visit facebook.com/aroundtheblockmovie


Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and online editor of GayNewsNetwork.com.au

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