Saara Lamberg on making Westermarck Effect – See the new trailer here!

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Jayden Denke and Saara Lamberg in Westermarck Effect.

“Life is not simple for me, so why would I make simple films?”


Written by Matthew Eeles

Independent filmmaker Saara Lamberg has dropped a new teaser trailer for Westermarck Effect, a followup to her Cinema Australia Audience Award-winning feature film, Innuendo.

As the title suggests, Westermarck Effect is not your average Australian film. It’s a taboo love story between Sam, played by newcomer Jayden Denke, and his biological mother, Sally, played by Lamberg. After twenty years separated, Sam and Sally cannot resist each other – mentally or physically – when they’re reunited.

Lamberg, who also wrote, directed and produced the film, is hoping Westermarck Effect will force audiences out of their comfort zones.

“I see life as challenging and complex and multidimensional and I think films are a documentation of life, whether they are real or fiction,” Lamberg tells Cinema Australia. “Life is not simple for me, so why would I make simple films? I like starting conversations. I feel that film has a powerful purpose in truly engaging with an individual’s moral compass and to encourage us to ask questions to help us all create our world views with more options.”

Lamberg has again teamed up with most of her crew from Innuendo including cinematographer Michael Liparota, editor Adam Ghiggino, composer Charly Harrison and makeup artist Heidi Salander.

“It was great to be able to work with the same crew as I made Innuendo with, plus a few new faces,” Lamberg tells Cinema Australia. “They are all extremely skilled and dedicated to creating art and working together towards the end goal of another risky independent film. I couldn’t be luckier to have such a supportive bunch of people around me.”

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According to Lamberg, the role of Sam received over one hundred applicants. The arduous audition process lead to the casting of Jayden Denke who has appeared in short films Coercion and Ominous. Denke also worked as the production assistant on the upcoming Australian feature film, Filterphonic.

“Jayden is such a brave actor,” Lamberg says. “He got the casting call and only two days later he was wearing a nappy in a grungy warehouse in Bundoora for a test shoot. Part of the audition process was a thorough conversation regarding comfortability. We discussed the nature of the role in depth and he was able to ask questions, air any worries he may have had and just make sure he knew what was happening before accepting the role. This is Jayden’s first feature film role, so I rehearsed with him extensively, and his performance in the film is flawless. He has already been compared with Heath Ledger.”

Mariah Mannae was cast in Westermarck Effect after Lamberg had seen the young actor perform in a play reading a few years earlier.

“I was really impressed with Mariah’s natural acting ability but also her proactivity and committed attitude to the art of film,” says Lamberg.

Equally committed to their role was Kevin Dee who plays Miranda. Dee has over 43 acting credits to his name including Jack Irish, Neighbours, Underbelly and directors Caitlin Farrugia and Michael Jones’ new comedy, Maybe Tomorrow.

“Kevin jumped into the skin of this drag artist with utmost charisma and enthusiasm,” says Lamberg. “He even had to improvise punk songs on the shoot day and did so beautifully!”

Brendan Bacon, who played the lead in Innuendo, also makes an appearance in the film as Monty, a hipster bar owner. Bacon has appeared in many feature films including Spin Out, The Mule and Alex Proyas’ Knowing.

Lamberg recently promoted Westermarck Effect at the Cannes Film Festival where she says there was interest in the film from America and locally. Release details will be announced soon.

You can keep up to date with the film here.

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