Debuting at the Oz Asia Festival in Adelaide year was the debut film for Calima Studios; Liberation Kitty Slayer. This film company was founded by Flinders alum Manuel Ashman, and this film serves as an excellent demonstration of his skill as a writer and director.
Set in Australia, this short film follows Danni, a young girl of about 10, who only wants to be as cool as her big brother, Napoleon, whom she clearly admires and wants to spend all her time with. Unfortunately he’s too busy playing his favourite video game to entertain his annoying little sister,
In the space of only 10 minutes, this film manages to take you through the frustrations of a well-recognised sibling dynamic, but emphasising the perspective of the neglected younger child, which many of us older siblings may not have appreciated in our own childhoods. For me, it made me nostalgic for my own youthful interactions with my little brother, wishing that perhaps I had been a little nicer to him way back when.
Notably the family this film focuses on is Asian-Australian, and it manages to be a film about non-white people without being about race. The story is a universal one, just told with people of colour, something rare in the Australian industry. Previous examples have been few and far between, with Benjamin Law’s The Family Law, the most recent mainstream show to do so.
Standout talent here would have to be Jai Maniwang (Danni), who manages to display an impressive depth of emotion and nuance for such a young actor. Dilion Tuazon (Napoleon) gets a commendation for his very relatable portrayal. Special mention also goes to Matthew Cropley, playing Napoleon’s wise-cracking friend, Joel, who has a rather interesting attachment to his cat.
Overall, this short is funny, heart-warming and sweet. It was certainly one of the strongest films on display at this festival, and if this is any indicator of Calima Studio’s ability, I certainly look forward to their next production.