IN light of the debate around Safe Schools that has dominated much of this year, writer and director Neil Triffett believes his new film is timelier than ever.

Emo: The Musical is slated to premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) this month. It follows a teenage boy as he tries to navigate his identity and fit in at a new school.

“Obviously with the Safe Schools debacle this year a film like this has never been more important,” he told the Star Observer.

“There’s so much external pressure on teenagers but we’re also becoming more aware of things like mental illness and mental health.

“One of our characters comes out as depressed and that’s a triumphant moment in the script, which is fun, but you know as the audience that because she’s just come out it’s only the start of her journey.”

Emo: The Musical is Triffett’s debut feature film and was expanded from his Berlinale 2013 award-winning short film.

The film itself focuses on the coming out process, with the student characters coming out as a whole range of things throughout the narrative.

One of the subplots in particular involves a boy struggling to reconcile his burgeoning same-sex desire and conservative religious identity.

Triffett said the subplot was a natural inclusion because everyone was coming out in the film.

“It made sense there would be a character in the film that I really like and identify with,” he said.

“It’s the extremity of what you can go through, when you have to deny who you’re attracted to, and as a result that storyline drives the plot and a lot of people learn from what happens to the gay character.

“It’s a film about coming out and people who’ve oppressed their own sexuality, and many of the people around that character in particular are okay with him being gay but there’s just this pressure to be straight… he works really hard but he’s never going to be.”

While writing and directing the film Triffett said he wanted to highlight how hard it can be for younger people to find others they connect and fit in with.

“I think it was because I was never a kid that full fit in,” he said.

“You can even meet other kids that don’t fit in but that isn’t enough, you could have a lot in common and not identify with another human being.

“You’re more than what you wear and what you’re interested in, and you can sometimes get on with people who are quite strange and different from you – that’s one of the biggest things I learned growing up.”

Emo: The Musical will screen at MIFF on August 12, 13, and 14. Grab your tickets here.

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