Ana Kokkinos has had some unexpected reactions at preview screenings of her new film.
A bit of a surprise is how many older people are getting it, the director of 1998’s gay classic Head On says.
I’m getting a lot of 60-year-old women coming up to me and saying, -˜This film is really powerful, I’m so glad you made this film.’
The responses are surprising because Kokkinos’s film, the R-rated The Book Of Revelation, is a confronting effort that includes graphic scenes of sexual violence and torture.
Its protagonist is Daniel (SeaChange and The Dish actor Tom Long), a Melbourne dancer whose life is upended when he is abducted by three women.
Abused, then suddenly released by his masked captors, Daniel struggles to speak about his experience. His search for the women throws up questions of power, identity and revenge.
Kokkinos was drawn to The Book Of Revelation because of its powerful examination of gender roles.
We know the common story of women as victims but, with that simple reversal of the man as victim, the man actually losing power, I felt we could therefore look at the whole question with new eyes, she says.
So often we see films where the minute you’re out of the cinema you’ve forgotten about them. I very much aimed for a film that would make people think.
One of the strong things in the film is that Daniel, our dancer, cannot speak about what happened to him. That’s a really common phenomenon in people who have suffered trauma or some form of abuse.
The more I went into researching abuse in relation to men, I started to sense it’s more common than we tend to think.
Kokkinos says there are obvious similarities between Head On and her latest film, which is adapted from British writer Rupert Thomson’s novel.
Both are set in gritty inner Melbourne and both feature strong Australian support casts -“ The Book Of Revelation ensemble includes Deborah Mailman, Colin Friels and Greta Scacchi.
The films also share a compelling meditation on sexuality.
I find the idea of a male dancer who is abducted by three women, someone who is all about movement and then becomes shackled, throws up all kinds of questions about male sexuality and power relationships between men and women, Kokkinos says.
I guess in Head On, Ari [played by Alex Dimitriades] is also a man who lives through his body and lives in the moment. In that sense there are some interesting parallels.
But I think in The Book Of Revelation it’s even more complex and there are even more layers.
Another viewer’s reaction to the film illustrates that complexity.
I had someone who I know come up to me and say that he’d been in a situation where he’d been raped by a woman when he was 17, Kokkinos says.
It was interesting because he said that he felt like he had been raped, even though he had an erection.
It’s very interesting terrain to talk about and think about.
The Book Of Revelation opens on 7 September.