4th Annual Arakwal NAIDOC Film Screening ‘HERE I AM’

Arakwal Naidoc Film Screening_poster smByron Region Premiere of Brand New Feature Film
Wednesday 6th July, 2011
Door: 6pm / Film: 6.30pm
Byron Community Centre
Tix: $10 full / $8 conc (only @ door)

* Arakwal Welcome To Country
* Intro & Q&A after film w/ Shai Pittman (leading actress)

Refreshments after screening
(event supported by ICC & BSC)


Wri/Dir: Beck Cole
Prod: Kath Shelper
DoP: Warwick Thornton
Starring: Prof Macia Langton, AM / Shai Pittman

View Trailer at: www.hereiamfilm.com

Synopsis: Karen is a beautiful young woman with a dark past, but she’s got potential and she knows it. Fresh out of prison, she fnds herself on the streets with a burning desire to turn her life around but no one to call for help. Eventually she fnds a haven at a shelter for women like herself. With the support of her new community of friends, Karen begins the journey of reconnecting with her estranged mother and her young daughter, and she is soon propelled to face the most diffcult truths of her life. But she’s determined to never give up. Set and shot in and around Port Adelaide, Here I Am is a moving and hopeful story about the strength and resilience of women.

“HERE I AM” Premiered earlier this year to a standing ovation at the Adelaide Film Festival

Rolling Stone (Ed Gibbs)
Four Stars ****
[Shai] Pittman boasts an undeniable screen presence, with her co-stars uniformly excellent … Some of the scenes in the women’s house are great fun, plus there’s an imaginative, edgy soundtrack … Smart, subtle and engaging.

HIA Shai Pittman_portraitShai Pittman (Leading Actress – ‘Karen’) will be Introducing the film, w/ Q&A after screening:
Shai started her acting career at the age of seven as a featured extra on a run-away bus in an episode of Police Rescue. She’s still got an on-set photo of her with Gary Sweet. In between she has featured as Cathy Freeman’s body double in an Earth Hour commercial, posed as an athlete on the billboards and postage stamps celebrating the Athens Olympics and played a supporting role in an episode of All Saints. Her most significant work is playing opposite Chris Haywood in an AFTRS short film, the celebrated two-hander Fuse in 2005. Shai, a Blacktown girl, is a water baby and loves diving for abalone with her Yuin family and friends on the South Coast of NSW.

Beck Cole – writer & director:
Hope and Forgiveness
For the past five years a character named Karen has lived in my head – she is in her mid” twenties, is a daughter and a mother and has just been released from prison. Yet the film is not about prison and I’ve never wanted it to be. It is a film about a young woman who has made mistakes and is in a very fragile place – on the outside, unwanted, alone and trying in her own way to make the right choices.
Here I Am has been a long journey for me but the reason for wanting to tell this story has always been the same – I strongly wanted to make a film about a family of women on the brink of no return. A family that had suffered loss, grief, anger and resentment but was glued together by love – and in this story love is a child.
I started writing the script soon after I’d had my first daughter. So I was drawn to making a film about mothers and their children. And I also thought that I wanted to deal with some of the difficulties that women have and experience throughout life – particularly women that live an underprivileged sort of life. And I wanted to create a story with a character that showed the difficult side of life but also a journey toward hope and the possibilities of a brighter future.
There are also many reasons why I needed to tell this story: politically I am concerned about the disproportionate number of Aboriginal people incarcerated in our country; personally I continue to consider my own life as an Aboriginal woman and my role as a mother; and creatively I am driven to create interesting roles and characters for Aboriginal women to play in a story that speaks beyond the realms of race and hopefully resonates with us all as people capable and worthy of love and forgiveness.

Kath Shelper – producer:
Humour, Friendship and the Third Wheel
Beck and I have been working together on this film during the past five years – intensively in production for the last year and intermittently developing the script prior to that. Whilst the various permutations of the story have changed over the years, there has always been the central character of Karen as the strong protagonist. Beck’s previous two short dramas (Flat and Plains Empty) have also featured strong female characters in isolation. Without dipping into amateur psychology, it’s not hard to see her fascination with the place of women in the world and I’m sure this is a theme she will continue to pursue.
We share a great friendship as well as a working relationship, both of which have developed over the past seven or so years we have been a team – along with our third wheel Warwick
Thornton (cinematographer, husband, collaborator, drinking partner). Together we have a terrible sense of humour, which often gets us into trouble. Laughing has got us through many trying times and I hope that audiences can appreciate the humour and joy in the film.
To my knowledge, this is the first feature film that has concentrated on urban Aboriginal women in a contemporary setting. Most films that have come before have been about blokes, set in the past or set in the regions. Here I Am is a rare insight into a world of women most people know little about, but which has a universality about it by the fact that they are all just getting on with their lives in the best way that they know how, hoping for a better future. And in some cases getting it.