by Matthew Eeles
Few things are rarer in Australian cinema than a film directed by a woman, with men having dominated the industry for more than four decades.
Gender inequality in the Australian film industry has been well reported recently and the staggeringly low number of films made by women in this country – just 14% since 1970 – can be discouraging for young females looking to get started in the business.
But a couple of dedicated young filmmakers are breaking the mould.
Last week, we were treated to our first look at Zelos – a new Australian feature film with a large female cast and crew.
“Zelos is a project helmed by women including two producers (Jo-Anne Brechin & Harris), the director (Brechin), writer (Harris), cinematographer (Emma Paine) and editor (Chrine Cheung).” Zelos screenwriter and co-producer Claire Harris told Cinema Australia, excited to share the news.
Zelos is described as being a coming of age story for thirty-somethings. It follows Bernard (Ben Mortley), a successful 35 year old living the perfect life with his girlfriend, Sarah (Shannon Ashlyn). Bernard’s pristine existence is turned upside down when Sarah confesses she’d done the dirty on him. To salvage the relationship, Sarah insists Bernard sleep with another woman to level the playing field. Quite the conundrum.
Joining the strong female charge is an incredibly talented group of male performers and crew including actors Ben Mortley (Pinch, Cloudstreet), Leigh Scully (Catching Milat), Seaton Kay-Smith (The Roast) and associate producer David Bedelis who is making his feature film debut.
“Jo-Anne and I met at AFTRS in 2013 and, after I finished the screenplay, we made a pact to shoot the film ourselves within two years.” Harris said. “We gathered a passionate team who worked for little or no financial reward, then founded a production company and put forward our own money to cover development and production costs.”
All that hard work paid off with Zelos wrapping filming in January this year with the support of Definition Films (The Water Deviner, Ruben Guthrie) and is now in post-production.
To help finish the film, the team are raising finances through private investment and the Australian Cultural Fund – a collective funding platform for Australian artists.
You can find out more about supporting Zelos here.