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Set sometime in the not-too-distant future, after the worldwide crisis of 2020, Mandy is a 17-year-old Filipino Australian. In her final year of high school and dealing with her parents impending divorce, she navigates a world driven by a new normal of isolation and fear. Added to this she has a crush on her tutor Serena. Meanwhile, a young girl from the backstreets of Manila tells her story.
Written and Directed by Matthew Victor Pastor
Starring Waiyee Rivera, Corey Reason, Chi Nguyen and Gregory Pakis
An introduction by Matthew Victor Pastor
‘Distant but connected’, a very appropriate theme at the 24th Revelation Perth International Film Festival.
I responded to our unfortunate ongoing circumstances by making three feature films reflecting our times titled the ‘2020 trilogy’. These three films are The Neon Across the Ocean, A Pencil to the Jugular and Plans That They’ve Made.
Cinema has given me an outlet.
Making the 2020 trilogy was a survival mechanism which demanded me to dig deep and throw every rule of conventional filmmaking out the window. With my adult ADHD, BPD and depression spiralling out of control in isolation, I was fortunate to have something constant in my life. I had films to make, and films to watch. I’m grateful that cinema gave me purpose.
Melbourne has been painted in a specific light because of our long-suffering pandemic experience.
Melburnians experiences have become the stuff of legend, but I aimed to humanise our story in a post-pandemic world (set in the not-too-distant future) through the story of Mandy who is in her final year of high school.
Neon is a delicate film about unrequited love told through the eyes of a young Filipino Australian finding her place in the world. We used the empty dystopian city as a way to draw a parallel to our shared human experience of loneliness and adapting to the new world. I fondly remember a time where I could book a flight to visit family and friends just across the ocean.
From Australia, when will we be able to experience that again? Even the borders between states are difficult to navigate. How fitting is it that I’ve never experienced this film with a live audience and only from a distance.
I make films with family, friends as a way of connecting to people. I make cinema through the lens of someone who feels misunderstood.
Writing, directing and shooting has given me the ability to be self-reflective and given me a place to reconcile with these unresolved feelings. I consider myself lucky to have this, it fosters stories for the marginalised, but allows me to function. Growing up in Australia I didn’t see very much to relate to, so I just tell the stories I personally would like to see.
Melancholy calms me.
I’m sure someone out there with a similar way of processing grief will resonate with the film. I made this for them.
Although I miss my friends and family across the ocean, I am so fortunate to have made a family through cinema and although unconventional it brings me joy to share this film with the world so that someone out there can also feel connected
The Neon Across the Ocean will screen at Revelation Perth International Film Festival on Sunday, 11 July and 5.45pm. Tickets here.