The Bite Magazine - Spring 2019 - Issue 24

‘Daughter’ and ‘Friends, Foes and Fireworks’ Nexus Production Group Presents Valentina Bulava reviews two films produced by the Nexus Production Group and gives her opinion on both. bite film review Director’s Spotlight H ow entertaining or dramatic could be a film be that is partly or entirely based on actors’ improvisation? I believe something like this would have a lot of unexpected turns. Director and writer Sarah Jayne Portelli and her producing partner Ivan Malekin have developed this unusual method and in doing so have produced unique work. Being a part of the Nexus Production Group, an Australian-founded and Maltese-based studio, they have launched two films that tell bold and fearless stories about femininity. Daughter starring Katherine Langford, is a short film that raises awareness and explores violence against women. It also looks at the topic of victim blaming. Sarah Jayne said when she was writing the script, she “believed that something had to be said about a wom- an’s role in society as it currently stands and education is where changes can initially steam from.” I watched this film and was deeply impressed. I loved not only the idea of the storyline but the technical part of it such as the way it was shot. I had the impression that as I watched the characters, it reflected real life. I loved the change of angles and the focus on their faces where we could see the emotions. Also, there is no doubt, the feelings were so realistic. In these situations, any woman could become a victim, no matter what age she is, how she behaves, what job she has, or what choices she makes. Through this film, NPG showed us how women project the judgment society has, and how they react. I believe it is so impor- tant, and it is a genuinely new approach to an actual problem. In this film, I saw a variety of stories develop- ing. And in just 28 minutes, I saw more truth than ever. The director added that she aimed to talk about themes that are rarely discussed fully, neither in schools nor in the film industry. “The way that women are looked at in the media based on their choices, everything from clothing, to career, to how much women drink or where they walk at night is looked at closely and judged unfairly compared to those of men, who hardly ever cop the same judgements.” The second film, Friends, Foes and Fireworks is a lengthener dramatic feature film. The unique thing about this is that it was an entirely improvised script. The team shot the film in seven different locations in just one night over New Year's Eve, letting the five female leads develop the scenarios. The story touch- es on serious women’s issues such as breast cancer, friendships, women's health and mental illness, and self-realisation. I do admit that I was sceptical about it at first as I didn't expect to see something so outstanding in the project which was totally improvised. However, I was mistaken. It was so much more profound. Once again, the realism of emotions is difficult to describe. The tension and the feelings – it all caught me by surprise. This movie takes an inside look at these types of issues, which sometimes are not taken seriously, and can relate to anyone at any point in time. “It’s important for me to keep telling women’s stories and exploring a woman’s place in the world as I see it because we need to have more of our stories celebrated on a global scale,” said Sarah Jayne. Her colleague, Ivan added that he believes that victim blaming needs to be discussed in schools and at home, as well as through the media for change to occur. “Change only comes about through action, and if we truly believe in equali- ty, then we all need to take action to build a future free of disparity,” he said. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Nexus Production Group has Ivan Malekin, Sarah Jayne Portelli, Patrick Siscar and Clara Francesca on its team. This collective of filmmakers established in 2007 believes in connec- tion, shared visions, and collaboration of skills. They learn, and they grow. “Individually, each member of NPG is a unique emerg- ing or accomplished artist; together, we are growing and only limited by imagination,” they explained. It is incredible, how passionate this team is about films. Even though they are mainly based in different locations, they work together perfectly to develop and improve. Ivan Malekin and Sarah Jayne are based in Malta, Clara is in New York, and Patrick is in Mel- bourne. “Producing quality, innovative, challenging film that inspires us and, we hope, inspires you too,” they added. The creative, innovative, passionate and diverse team of NPG plans to expand works with their new method of improvising the scripts and target female audiences advocating their issues worldwide.