by Dov Kornits

“It was insane, a crazy ride, we just went for it,” says Claire Pasvolsky, whose debut feature Three Chords and the Truth will premiere at the Brisbane International Film Festival [BIFF]. It’s a catch-cry that could apply to most independent films, but this one in particular.

Submitted as a work-in-progress to BIFF, Pasvolsky was surprised when the musical drama that she made off the radar in Newcastle, with her husband Steve Pasvolsky as editor and producer, was embraced by the festival.

“Steve and I were talking about what kind of film we’d like to make, and it was about how difficult things are when you’re about 17, 18, and if you’re lost and you’ve got no one who believes in you, how it can either go one way or the other. If you have one person that actually sees something in you, it can change the trajectory of your life. That was the loose concept for our idea. And then I said, ‘And it’s got to be a musical, and Jackie Marshall’s got to be in it’, and he said, ‘Great, but don’t call her, let’s talk about it for a while’, and so, of course, I got on the phone to her, and that was the 15th of October last year, and by the 3rd of December she was in our house rehearsing, and we were shooting the next week.”

Jackie Marshall was a musician that Claire had met during the making of short documentary Big Sky Girls. “It’s about a mentorship program where young women from very remote areas of Australia, some of whom have never been on a plane before, are selected for this program and mentored into writing songs. It’s just a beautiful nurturing program about creating safe spaces. I met Jackie for about one minute, and honestly, there was 40 people in this house, and there was something about her, she wasn’t doing anything special, but I was just drawn to her for some reason. She was just in some zone and connecting with these kids and writing these songs.”

Also starring Maisie Owens (Bump), Three Chords and the Truth follows the relationship of the two women, one entering adulthood with a tragedy behind her, and the other with a life behind her and a tragedy ahead.

“It’s about themes of isolation, post-traumatic stress disorder, suffering, but also the positivity of healing through art and music,” Claire says.

Although Jackie Marshall had never acted before, Claire knew that she had the chops to pull off the challenging role, plus the big bonus was that she would also compose the beautiful songs that are so crucial to the film’s success.

“Cinematically, my influences are Krzysztof Kieślowski, Lars Von Trier and I also love the realism of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. I’m an acting teacher too. I don’t really think of people as a non-actor, because Jackie’s a performer rather than anything, so I think she fell into it very easily.”

Together they have made a film that truly lives up to its title.

Three Chords and the Truth will host special Q&A screenings at the following: October 5 – Dendy Newtown – 6.30pm, October 6 – Yarraville Sun – 6.45pm, October 7 – Avoca Beach – 4.30pm, October 8 – Event Kotara – 6pm, October 26 – Tamworth Forum – 6pm, October 27 – Armidale Cinema – 6pm. The film will screen at the following cinemas in general release:

From October 5:-
Dendy Canberra, Gala Warrawong, Event Macquarie, Regent Murwillumbah, Yarraville, State Hobart, Dendy Coorparoo, Dendy Southport, Event Indooroopilly, Reading Angelika Brisbane, Luna Leederville, Event Innaloo

From October 12:-
Cowra Civic, Glenbrook

Riverside Parramatta – October 20, 26, 28
Darwin Deckchair – October 25, 30, November 1

From October 26:-
Majestic Port Macquarie, Majestic Nelson Bay, Majestic Nambucca, Majestic Sawtell Majestic Wynnum, Majestic Nambour

Lismore Starcourt – October 29, November 1, 2
Launceston Star – December 9, 13