Almost one in ten Australians call Sydney’s Western Suburbs home. A huge array of overlapping communities are tucked into that staggering number, with some 38% speaking a language other than English at home. In other words, it’s here that you can see the real face of Australia – but sadly this creative hotbed, which has given birth to writers’ collective Sweatshop and the Bankstown Poetry Slam, is still under-represented on our screens.
Emotionally glowing anthology film Here Out West addresses this injustice at its very roots. Each of its subtly interlocking stories was written by a promising young star from the area, kicking off with Nisrine Amine’s opening gambit, ‘We, The Spiders’. Hinging on a fateful decision, it sees Geneviève Lemon’s grandmother flee a local hospital with her newborn granddaughter and the young girl she’s babysitting (Mia-Lore Bayeh). This sparks a chain reaction of events that play out in the wards, the car park and surrounding neighbourhoods.
One of the most moving segments is written by charismatic Arka Das, who also stars as young man Robi, who spends his days mucking around with mates including Raashid, played by new Heath Ledger Scholarship awardee and Mr Inbetween actor Rahel Romahn. When Robi winds up in hospital with an eye injury, the Bengali speaker is commandeered as a translator to support a distraught woman and her dying father. It’s a tender moment that glimmers.
Five of Australia’s most respected woman directors helm these absorbing insights, including Ana Kokkinos (Head On), Leah Purcell (The Drover’s Wife) and Fadia Abboud (Five Bedrooms). Together, they have woven something remarkable that holds you captive from start to bittersweet finale.