Undertow set to take the Nation by Storm

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Undertow set to take the Nation by Storm

You know that feeling of watching a movie and it is set in a city that you have been to? You automatically exclaim, ‘I’ve been there!’ and feel a sense of accomplishment. Well Geelong residents, get prepared to be shouting ‘I live there!’ when you go to see the new psychological drama, ‘Undertow’.
‘Undertow’ is the debut film for award-winning writer and director, Miranda Nation. It boasts an all Australian cast including Laura Gordon, (City Homicide, Underbelly and Secret City) ; Olivia Dejonge (The Visit); Rob Collins (The Wrong Girl); and Josh Helman (X-MEN: Days of Future Past, X-MEN: Apocalypse) and was all filmed right here in Geelong!
“I grew up in Geelong, though I’m in Melbourne now, I grew up there until I was 17 when I moved away to study, but my parents still live there and I travel down a lot,” Nation explains. “I always wanted to set my debut film here, it just felt right!”
Having started in the film industry as an actor, Nation soon developed a keen interest in writing and directing. She launched into the behind-the-scenes world in 2011 with her short film “Eli The Invincible” and followed it up in 2013 with ‘Perception’, both earning her shelves full of awards. Further, her feature screenplay ‘Zero Circle’ was a semi-finalist in the esteemed Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, and in 2015, Miranda received a Director’s Acclaim grant from Screen Australia to work as Director’s Attachment with acclaimed writer/director Cate Shortland on ‘Berlin Syndrome’. The idea for ‘Undertow’ was born in amongst that mix.
“I was working as an actor and looking to create my own work so I went and studied over in Paris for a couple of years but when I got back I got more into film and started writing and directing.” Nation explains. “Around that time I did a production of Jean Genet’s, ‘The Maids’ and I was really inspired by that to create something that had two really strong roles for women, about a relationship about women that wasn’t a romantic or sexual relationship… but just a sort of complex, complicated relationship between women.”
‘Undertow’ is centred around the mental state of main character, Claire (Gordon), who is learning to cope with a life after a miscarriage. She becomes suspicious of her husband’s (Collins) relationship with a young pregnant woman (Dejonge) and develops an unhealthy obsessive relationship with her that puts all of their lives at risk. The film explores some deep themes of female empowerment, the human body, sexuality and loss.
“I think the key theme for me was the body and our relationships with our body and female sexuality… Both Clare and Angie are dealing with trauma that has been marked on their body, both different kinds of trauma but one that is quite specific of a female experience,” Nation acknowledges. “We were in post production and edit when the #MeToo movement erupted and we [alongside Producer Lyn Norfor] really saw that these issues were really being spoken about, ones that we had been exploring were mirrored in the public forum.”
Critically the film is receiving high praise for its relevant and thought-provoking storyline, incredible performance from the cast and the cinematography.
“It’s such a long process, a kind of labour of love trying to get it from inception to finally having a film to show people so that’s what it’s all for really; to get it out there and provoke a conversation, and get a response from people. I couldn’t ask for more! We’ve had great reviews and great reception from people. It’s wonderful! A little overwhelming [laughs]!” She adds about the film, “it’s quite an intense ride, it’s not necessarily something that people are going to ‘enjoy’, but the fact that it provokes people to think and ask questions and chat amongst themselves. It’s more than I could hope for!”
While the content offers a topic for serious conversation, the embedded Geelong references will have locals talking. In particular, the inclusion of the Divinals’ hit, ‘Pleasure and Pain’, pays homage to Chrissy Amphlet.
“Yes totally, I knew that not everyone was going to pick that up but it was an in-joke for those that knew Chrissy Amphlet was from Geelong,” Nation laughs. “And also another connection is one of our composers, Raul Sanchez is a member of Magic Dirt!”
Our local landmarks also make appearances throughout with The Pier, The Sphinx, Corio Bay Motel and our beautiful beaches being captured by talented cinematographer, Bonnie Elliot.
“We spent a few days with my parents, travelling around just taking heaps and heaps of photos and just randomly driving in one direction and then the other. I discovered parts of Geelong that I had never seen before either… I really think that the place is a character in the film. The place, and the landscape and the town played a significant role.”
Nation was also conscious of including locals in the whole process with all supporting actors and extras being local residents, and she was blown away by the support of our council and businesses over the five weeks of shooting.
“The reason we did the whole five weeks in Geelong was because we just found there to be such support and such enthusiasm from the whole community,” Nation explains. “We wanted to employ as many local crew and caterers, for example, as possible, and we found that there was such a great attitude and support for the project that we filmed it all here.”
‘Undertow’ will be screened as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Travelling Showcase at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre (GPAC) on Friday 12 October.
“We recently had our world premiere at MIFF and they selected a handful of films to screen regionally,” Nation says. “So that will be the first screening but we will be coming back just before our theatrical release and doing a couple of special event screenings in Geelong, so there will be a chance for people to come see it before it goes into cinemas.”
What better way to spend a 1.5 hours than being captivated by a Geelong based film, from a Geelong bred director in a Geelong theatre! Get that buttered popcorn ready!
Visit miff.com.au/travelling
Written by Tammy Walters
Check out the trailer below.