Under The Influence: Ben Ferris’ 57 Lawson

September 15, 2016
Australian director, Ben Ferris, picks three films that had a major influence on his new work, 57 Lawson, which screens at The Sydney Underground Film Festival.

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ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT (1982) Dir. Chantal Akerman (Belgium) “This beautiful film featuring a cast of 70 people observes the complexity of love and relationships in a big city, Brussels. While my film has a different subject matter – the day-to-day lives of the tenants in a social housing building in Redfern – it draws on this film in a couple of ways: first, as the title suggests, Akerman frames the action of her film over the course of one evening; and second, she rests lovingly on the minutiae of her character’s daily existences. I also owe the still, theatrical framing of my subjects to her.”

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TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER (1967) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard (France) “It’s fun to hate Godard. And while we share a similar subject matter – how urban development affects the character of a city, and perhaps even the nature of the way that we relate to one another – Godard’s characters are as much commodities as the consumer product that they are selling (‘a prostitution of the mind,’ as he would put it), and this is where the similarity ends. I have tried to avoid the cynicism that invades Godard’s work, and opted for a gentler, perhaps more melancholic approach to my subject. I have kept one particular moment that is an homage to Godard though. Maybe it’s more like a love-hate relationship.”

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SILENT LIGHT (2007) Dir. Carlos Reygadas (Mexico) “Mexican filmmaker, Carlos Reygadas’ modern masterpiece is set in a small Mennonite community in Mexico. What is startling about this film is the way that Reygadas places   actors alongside the real community to create a sublime magical-real tension. While my film is definitely more real than magical, I have attempted a couple of magical moments where realism is heightened towards abstraction. This is a way of opening the film up – to make it about more than a particular issue at a particular time – and to invite the possibility that it could be about an entire city, or even more than that…”

57 Lawson screens at The Sydney Underground Film Festival, which runs from September 15-18. For more on 57 Lawson and to buy tickets, head to the official website.

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