Australia / 85’
cast Kate Cheel, Daniel P. Jones, Justin Courtin
screenplay Alena Lodkina, Isaac Wall
cinematographer Michael Latham
editor Luca Cappelli
production designer Leah Popple
costume designer Lucie McMahon
music Mikey Young
sound Livia Ruzic
Milena travels to a remote opal mining community to see her estranged, ill father. Lost and alone, she falls into his bewildering world, where men escape society and share ideals of freedom. Soon, he doesn’t want her to leave. Stuck in time, father and daughter try to mend their fractured bond, but their connection is fragile, like the strange, colourful gems he digs up from the earth.
When I first travelled to a remote opal mining community called Lightning Ridge several years ago, I was drawn into a wild world – misfits, loners and dreamers brought together by the hope of striking it lucky on precious gems. Time paused, as beer after beer was drunk through the hot dry days. A last frontier in the middle of nowhere, a haunting stage for fiction to unfold. I thought about the promises of escape, and about getting lost. I wanted to tell a story of three lonely people floating in this unique microcosm with its own ideals and rules, surrounded by vast stretches of bush. A closed off, strong willed daughter longs to know her absent father before he dies and travels here for the first time. The father is cracked open by the past he’s abandoned. An enigmatic miner is thrown into a fleeting romance despite his reclusive lifestyle. The characters seek connection with one another, but are torn apart by themselves and the world around them. They struggle to find what to say. Such feelings are familiar to me, as an overwhelmed human in a world ruled by the relentless speed of progress. The film tells a fictional story, but is also a record of place that has become dear to me, and a way of life that has mesmerised me. I worked towards images that would carry the languid magic, the melancholia I myself felt in my travels.