ONE of the hottest tickets for this year’s Sydney Film Festival (SFF) is one of only five Australian films making its world premiere at the festival, and it just so happens to be one of many queer films added to this year’s line-up.
The team behind Teenage Kicks – writer/director Craig Boreham and producer Annmaree J Bell, the team behind award winning short film Drowning – believe SFF audiences are falling over themselves to see their film because people like supporting locally-made content.
“It’s also a film set and made in Sydney, Craig is a Sydney director and people like to celebrate local. It’s called ‘glocal’, celebrating the local on a global scale such as this festival.
“People also really want to see this story.”
Boreham adds: “People are really engaging with the story.”
Teenage Kicks is not the typical coming of age and coming out story of a teenager, but rather explores the complex minefield of adolescence’s potent sexuality. All of which plays against the backdrop of dealing with the protagonist’s guilt for being responsible of the death his brother.
The lead character is Miklos Varga, played by acting veteran Miles Szanto (Love My Way, The Elephant Princess), who lost a significant amount of weight to manifest the awkward physicality and emotionality of a teenager. Boreham had worked with Varga previously and knew the young actor would be open to pushing his boundaries as an artist.
“He (Szanto) wanted to embrace the awkward period of being a teenager, he dropped something like 10 pounds, he was actually physically bumping into things and being very awkward,” Boreham said.
“He’s been acting since he was seven. Everyone under the age of 15 knows who he is, he has a bit of a tween fan base. He could be a self-obsessed young actor but he’s not… he was exceptional.”
“I had worked with Miles before, I knew he was up for it, he likes to be pushed as far as you can push him.”
In the lead up to filming, the film’s small budget restricted the director and his actors from having much time together to rehearse, so Boreham had to think outside the box to help his two leads connect on a deeper level.
“I had Miles and Dan (Webber, the second lead in the film) write in a diary everyday so that they could develop a voice for the character. Just before rehearsals I had them swap diaries,” Boreham said.
“I told them it was as though they had snuck into each other’s bedrooms and read their diaries to get an understanding of what the other person was thinking.”
Boreham used his experience of working at youth LGBTI not-for-profit organisation Twenty 10 as source material for the film and said a lot of the stories he heard from young people there had many commonalities about losing family and coming to terms with sexuality.
Both he and Bell are delighted at the recent surge of popularity of queer films, not just on the festival circuit but in the wider global film industry and believes it’s a sign studio executives realise there is a market for queer films to be made and seen by many people.
The filmmaking duo are excited Teenage Kicks is proving to be popular and urge people to get their tickets for the screening now before they sell out.
“It’s fantastic to be premiering where we shot the film and where we worked on it, the Sydney Film Festiva is such a great festival.”