Swinburne graduates make their Venice Film Festival debut

Thursday 24 August 2017

The crew behind the film ‘West of Sunshine’

The crew shot the film over 18 days in Melbourne using professional and untrained actors

In summary

  • Film made by Swinburne graduates will debut at this year’s 74th Venice Film Festival
  • Chosen to compete in the Orizzonti section (Horizons) of the festival amongst 19 films
  • Follows a Melbourne father who must pay back a debt to a loan shark while looking after his young son

A film by Swinburne graduates about a father trying to pay back a loan shark while looking after his young son, has been chosen to debut at this year’s 74th Venice Film Festival.

Titled ‘West of Sunshine’, the film was written and directed by film and television graduate Jason Raftopoulos and shot by fellow graduate Thom Neal. The film is produced by Alexandros Ouzas.

It has been chosen to compete in the Orizzonti section (Horizons) of the prestigious festival amongst 19 films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema.

A still from the film 'West of Sunshine'.

 “I’m just incredibly humbled and honoured that a film made with sheer passion and an amazing cast and crew will have its world premiere at such a prestigious festival,” says Mr Raftopoulos.

“So many people have supported this film, including Screen Australia, and I’m so grateful for that.”

Swinburne success story

Shot over 18 days on the streets of Melbourne, ‘West of Sunshine’ uses both of professional and untrained actors and follows a father who has less than a day to pay back a debt to a loan shark, while looking after his young son.

Mr Raftopoulos describes the film as a “Swinburne success story”.

“It’s based on my Swinburne graduation film ‘Father’s Day’, which won Best Film and Best Screenplay at the Student Film Awards in 2010 and was in Official Selection at the St Kilda Film Festival,” he says.

It was also awarded the Silver Remi Award at the 45th Worldfest Houston International Film Festival.

A still from the film 'West of Sunshine'

Mr Raftopoulos says while he is unsure about how the film will be received, he was thrilled with the recognition.

 “I’m just excited for everyone who’s worked on it and supported the project to see it up there - that’s all I can ask for.

“If people respond to it then its bonus.”

West of Sunshine will screen in the Orizzonti Competition from September 1