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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Kids’ first film is a Rite of Passage

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A raw, uncensored film made with a message of hope and inspired by the real-life experiences of the young people involved is set to premiere in Lismore next month.

Rites of Passage has been directed by award-winning filmmaker Phillip Crawford, with a group of young people from the Illawarra, and consists of six interwoven stories showing the risk taking, disappointment, joys and love that come with growing up.

Shot on cameras ranging across 16mm, Super 8, digital SLRs, handycams, infrared black and white as well as iPhones, for the past three years community arts organisation Beyond Empathy (BE) has been working with this young extraordinary talent to make the thought-provoking film.

Each of these young participants has their own real story from battling homelessness, alcohol or drug abuse, living in public housing or coming from families that have seen disadvantage and hardship. With frankness and courage, these young people have dipped below the surface of their often tough exteriors to reveal what’s going on inside their lives in Rites of Passage.

None of these young cast had acted before yet people who have seen the film say their performances are personal and profound. One commentator said that their authenticity ‘blurs the line between fact and fiction’.

In late 2012 BE conducted a highly successfully crowd-funding campaign to raise money for post-production. A target of $25,000 was reached in just 10 days, eventually raising $30,950 over the month-long campaign.

Director Phillip Crawford said, ‘As a youth worker for more than 25 years, I have had the humbling experience to meet extraordinary people – all that have gone through hardships others would imagine impossible to cope with but somehow they have this resilience that I find inspiring. Some of the pain in adolescence happens when you realise things aren’t going to turn out exactly as you had hoped and talking about the stuff that hurts can help.

‘One of the most significant things I realised as a youth worker involved parents – when young people go through difficulties, if they have at least one parent who hangs in there and tries to find ways to talk to them, they are more likely to have a ‘safe base’ to explore the trials of adolescence. The stories in this film hopefully encourage the conversation between young people and their parents to talk about life and growing up. There are never simple answers but staying in the conversation can be a lifeline.’

Rites of Passage has become a platform for the young participants – some are now working in film and media with one young man cast in the first series of Redfern Now. For others, it has been the stepping-stone to seek career advice and help for drug and alcohol addiction.

Rites of Passage will screen in Lismore on Sunday November 24, 2013, at 7.30pm (date and time subject to final confirmation). It will include a Q&A with the filmmakers and young talent in the movie.

In a novel twist, and with a limited distribution budget, the number of tickets sold will determine the location of the film’s premiere in Lismore. All money raised will go towards creating opportunities for the young participants involved in making the film.

Ticket prices: Early Bird Adult – $12.00; Adult – $15.00; Early Bird Concession – $8.00; Concession – $10.00; and donations can be made of more than $15.00

Tickets available: http://roplismore-eorg.eventbrite.com.au/.


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