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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 August 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 25 AUGUST 2018 19 FILM The story of a working class father struggling with addiction, debt and fatherhood, comes as a stark reality check regarding Australia’s status as a ‘lucky country’ and particularly Melbourne’s status as one of the world’s ‘most liveable cities’. Filmmaker Jason Raftopoulos. been directly affected by the darkest parts of the film's narrative. Even so, the story of a working class father struggling with addiction, debt and fatherhood, comes as a stark reality check regarding Australia's status as a 'lucky country' and particularly Melbourne's status as one of the world's 'most liveable cities'. "I find these platitudes to be quite disturbing, because they kind of negate any potential price that we pay for the things that we have," he says. "I feel incredibly grateful that I live in a fantastic country and I do love that, Scenes from West of Sunshine. but I want to be very careful in navigating these questions because we have people who are going through hard times and are not necessarily given attention. I think people work really hard because things are really expensive, and we have to ask why are things that way. That is one of the things I think about; it's nice to have nice things, but at what cost?" West of Sunshine does not answer this question, but it contributes to a dialogue about the challenges that our society faces. "One of the things you try and do as a filmmaker is without pushing anything down anyone's throat - which I don't like at all - in a subtle way you kind of show personal journeys of characters," explains Raftopoulos. "By doing that, even in a small subtextual way, that creates a dialogue between yourself and the audience and hopefully between the audience themselves. By even creating the dialogue you're kind of shifting the marker in that way you might be doing something to contribute to the dialogue. So the film becomes kind of a commentary on this structure of capitalism that we have. That's fine, that's the best thing that we have come out, we can't think of anything better at the moment, but there are tensions within that and I want to explore those things." Now that West of Sunshine is coming full circle from the festival circuit and is out in cinemas, Raftopoulos is ready to let it continue its course and focus on his next project, which he describes as "a crime story with a bit of an edge". What is the appeal of stories about people falling off the tracks? "Good question," he answers, laughing. "Even going back to ancient literature, even back to Homer, all the characters are trying to address something within themselves," he says. "The characters embark on a journey, they have questions they need to be answered in themselves. I think that this is part of growth, of evolution. I'm not saying that every character in every film has to change, and they don't, but I like the idea of a character study; it's what I like to explore." In a way, this "humanistic point of view" is an influence of his experience growing up Greek. "Some of the first readings I ever did was Greek mythology," he remembers. "One of the first books I was given was a kid's version of mythology, which had a map of all the gods. I remember looking at it and trying to find out who's related to who and what those stories were. I found that fascinating. These stories speak about different parts of the human condition; it is an incredible gift to our humanity that we have these stories, that they still exist today, and in a way and have been retold thousands of times over and over, given different context. There is something completely universal in these stories and ideas continue to tell the struggle of people today."
18 August 2018
01 September 2018