Artistic director of the Sydney Film School, Ben Ferris is about to release his latest documentary, 57 Lawson, which is a passive observation of the social ecosystem in an inner Sydney housing commission block.
Ferris is director and filmmaker behind the 70-minute feature, which is comprised of a series of fixed camera shots capturing real life moments over the course of one night. Each scene lasts several minutes, with unchanged focus, no commentary or music and only background noise. With scenes that include the outside of a building, a city landscape, a kiosk in a park – all in which very little activity occurs. It may seem like the film is a test of endurance. Even scenes featuring occupants in their apartments depict fairly banal slices of life: a woman reading a cake recipe in a foreign language; a man coming out of the shower and brushing his teeth.
Yet somehow the rawness, the stillness, is mesmerising. In its latter half, the film develops more purpose, following two Department of Family and Community Services representatives as they interview tenants about their ensuing relocation due to the sale of the building. The pragmatic reality of these scenes against the poetic quietude of earlier scenes gives the film its poignant narrative about people who are invisible until they become inconvenient. (RB)
Screening at the Sydney Underground Film Festival:
Sep 17, 4pm. The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville. $13-$15. Tickets & info: www.suff.com.au/films/57-lawson
BY RITA BRATOVICH