During the Australian summer of 1996 Jacquie, a young woman, celebrates finishing high school with her friends and family. But her sense of freedom is broken as Jacquie is faced with her first unwanted sexual experience. This experience shatters her sense of self but as Jacquie begins to work through her anger she finds the strength to confront her attacker and in doing so reclaims her silence.
I felt compelled to make this short film in the context of the global #MeToo movement that had just begun. I was also influenced by an Australian court case that shone a light on the out-dated consent provisions in the NSW Crimes Act. In broaching this subject matter I felt that this film needed to be based in authenticity. It was thereby decided to set the film around the area that I grew up in, in the Northern Rivers of NSW, where I had insight into being on the cusp of adulthood in the late 1990’s.
This connection to place and time strongly influenced the development of our visual aesthetic and became the backbone to our approach to the film. We cast mostly non-actors from the local area and were able to fill crew positions such as our production designer, art department and costume designer with locals who really understood the uniqueness of the Northern Rivers region contributing to its authenticity.
The Northern Rivers region also has a strong environmental ethos and this was central to the core of the screenplay and aesthetic. The river is symbolic of Jacquie’s journey and the rainforest is the place Jacquie begins to heal. Unfortunately, since gaining permission to film in Nightcap National Park this area of World Heritage listed rainforest has been devastated by the bushfires that have shattered our nation. One can only hope that these places of unique natural beauty and ecology have the chance to recover as one hopes for those that have experienced sexual assault.