“The Stranger is a sophisticated psychological drama that plays on how we often respond with fear and uncertainty to people with obvious signs of mental ill-health; how we tend to turn away rather than engage,” says Jenny Hicks of her short film, The Stranger. “Mental health is an important and personal subject for me, many friends and colleagues have committed suicide and many more struggle with bi-polar, depression and anxiety. With The Stranger, I hope to contribute to a growing conversation that is liberating and normalising mental ill-health.”
The psychological noir thriller is centred around a stranger that arrives at an isolated farmhouse in the middle of the night, and seeks to confront prejudices and the stigma that surrounds people living with mental illness.
Writer/director Jenny Hicks is an experienced film editor who has worked internationally on Twin Peaks for David Lynch, all three The Matrix films for the Wachowskis, The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond for Ed Zwick and The Thin Red Line for Terrence Malick. She has also worked locally as an editor on the award winning Emu Runner, and the TV series The House and You Can’t Ask That for the ABC.
As well as its strong cast of recognisable faces in Harry Greenwood (the son of Hugo Weaving), Fiona Press and Aussie legend Steve Bisley, The Stranger is further credentialed by its backers. Not only is the film being produced as an Australian Film, Television and Radio School short film in the AFTRS Master of Arts program, it also comes with support from The PAYCE Foundation. PAYCE brings together the unique strengths and skills of a group of companies, and then channels them in a philanthropic way through partnerships via grants and community development to support organisations working in mental health, disability, addiction, domestic and family violence, and youth at risk.
“We are blessed with a fabulous cast and I am delighted that PAYCE Foundation is working with us to help bring our story to the screen,” says Jenny Hicks. Adds PAYCE Foundation Director, James Boyd: “Mental illness has broad ranging affects to so many people in our community and most of it is hidden – we are delighted to be able to support a short film that will shine a light on an illness that so desperately needs a deeper level of understanding and assistance especially in the current environment. We wish the cast and crew every success in the production and encourage other organisations to also support the project.”
A crowdfunding campaign for The Stranger is currently underway via The Australian Cultural Fund. Tax deductible donations can be made until June 30, 2020 by clicking here.