Sunday Shorts: Superheroes

Kieran Cochrane and Noah Cochrane in Superheroes.

Superheroes is a live action / animated short film which tells the story of a boy’s connection to his imagination. Surrounded by family violence, ten year old James uses the power of his imagination as a sanctuary for himself, his brother and mother from a disturbing reality.

Written and Directed by Chris Busuttil
Produced by Jessica Pearce
Animated by Milos Djurdjevic
Starring Arthur Angel, Michala Banas, Kieran Cochrane and Noah Cochrane

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Article by Chris Busuttil

I was touched by the heartfelt story of Rosie Batty, who on the days after the tragedy of losing her son Luke to family violence, chose to front the media personally to shine a light and expose family violence as an epidemic in Australia.

As a filmmaker I felt inspired by her courage and commitment to pursue a change and after reading Rosie’s book ‘A Mother’s Story’ I decided to write a screenplay for a short film titled ‘Superheroes’ an explore the film through a child’s perspective, how do the children who are surrounded by family violence cope? Do they understand the danger that surrounds their world? Do they feel an urge to protect the victim of abuse? More importantly, I wanted to explore if there is hope for change.

In 2015, Rosie Batty had been awarded as The Australian of the Year for her amazing work in campaigning against family violence. I had the Superheroes screenplay ready and decided to mail it to her for her thoughts on the project. Rosie was extremely busy as a keynote speaker campaigning around the country for her foundation which was named in honour of Luke, so I was incredibly blessed and grateful that she did contact me. The Luke Batty Foundation and I workshopped the screenplay together which was extremely important to me because I wanted to make sure the film was authentic and not sensationalised or cliched in any way. Thankfully the foundation is filled with well-respected professionals who have been working in the family violence sector for decades, so I listened to every bit of feedback they offered to make the film better.

My choice to combine both live action film and animation was crucial because at the heart of the film is the story about a child’s connection to his imagination, and I wanted to visualise that. Children’s imagination and fantasy worlds are crucial when they are experiencing family violence. Often, the effects of the violence can work to shut this imaginary world down, and indeed, perpetrators sometimes do direct and indirect things to shut these worlds down. The animation world is where our main character James, with his legion of Superheroes by his side has the best chance of surviving.

We were incredibly grateful to have Superheroes premiere at St Kilda Film Festival and screen at many prestigious festivals including Sydney Film Festival, Noosa International Film Festival and Cause Film Festival. After the completion of the festival circuit, I hope the film continues to engage with audiences, spark conversation and contribute to the momentum of shifting our mindsets about the epidemic of family violence.

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