Naomi Fryer’s This River to have its World Premiere at Flickerfest 2021, News

Naomi Fryer’s This River to have its World Premiere at Flickerfest 2021

Naomi Fryer’s collaboration with co-producer Katherine Shearer, This River, was written during the early days of the Me Too movement and explores themes of active consent and is told through the female gaze. We spoke to Naomi about the film ahead of its World Premiere at Flickerfest 2021.


How does it feel to have your short film selected to screen at Flickerfest 2021?

We’re really excited about screening at Flickerfest 2021! My co-producer Katherine Shearer and I have attended Flickerfest for many years and it’s fantastic to have our World Premiere at this wonderful festival.


This River has been described as a coming of age drama that explores the impact of a young woman’s first unwanted sexual experience and her journey back to herself helped by nature. Why did you want to tell this story and who is the audience?

This River was made as part of my Masters of Screen Arts in Directing at AFTRS. I initially wrote the screenplay at the beginning of the #MeToo movement and was influenced by a Criminal Court case that was playing out in the media here that highlighted the outdated consent provisions in the NSW Crimes Act.

I wanted to highlight the importance of active consent and to do this through a female gaze. In broaching this subject matter, I felt like my approach needed to be based in authenticity and so decided to set the film in the Northern Rivers region where I grew up in the late 90s and could connect to the main character being on the cusp of adulthood.

This film is aimed at anyone who may have experienced this type of trauma in the hope of opening conversations and contributing in a positive sense. In some small way to help people to not feel so alone. We also hope to build empathy for people who may have experienced this type of trauma with the overall intention of empowerment through storytelling.


How important was it to the production and the film’s story to have a strong female crew?

It was my intention to tell this story through a female gaze and so it was very important to fill our crew with an amazing bunch of female collaborators. Our camera team lead by cinematographer Ehran Edwards was consciously all female (including local camera assistants).

I was interested in exploring whether this would impact the telling of the story and I think it has. I also wanted to approach the sexual assault in a very sensitive way and decided to withhold a lot of visuals of this, so I worked with intimacy coordinator Michela Carattini to help us capture this coverage and to ensure everyone felt safe and supported. We also worked with some amazing men and everyone had the sensitivity of the story at heart.


This River is set in Northern Rivers of NSW. How did that influence the overall visual aesthetic of the film and did you work with local crews?

This film is set in a very specific time and place, in the 1990s in the Lismore region of the Northern Rivers and this place is integral to the visual aesthetic of the film. Our approach was to use as many existing locations as possible and scenes were created around these locations in and out of town. The natural and urban landscape is reflective of the main character’s journey, the river being symbolic of her journey.

To create this unique time and place we worked with a local production designer Jess Wheatly, art director Mitch Jones, and costume designer Loretta Egan and they really understood the uniqueness of the region and I think this really adds to the film’s authenticity.

Our cast is predominantly Northern Rivers locals. With the help of local casting agent, Nicole Sullivan, we held a series of auditions in Lismore and Byron Bay, and the soundtrack features Grinspoon who were a local band at the time.


It’s not easy to get finance for a short film. Can you share with us how you got the production up?

This River is my major work from my Masters at AFTRS and we received some funds through the school. We also raised additional funds through the Australian Cultural Fund and are very grateful to those donors. In addition to that, we were supported by numerous volunteers including the Lismore City Unit of NSW SES and the NSW Rural Fire Service Tullera, as well as local food and coffee sponsors. We are very grateful to everyone and couldn’t have made it without the incredible Northern Rivers community.


What are your distribution plans for the film after Flickerfest?

After premiering at Flickerfest we hope to play more broadly at festivals in 2021. After this we will plan an online release. We also believe there are opportunities for This River to play in an educational context so we will be pursuing that avenue as well. 


This River

Screening in Best of Australian Shorts 6.

View the full Flickerfest program now.


Follow This River online:


Celebrate 30 years of Flickerfest with a special SBS on Demand collection

January 2021 marks 30 years of Flickerfest, Australia’s leading Academy® Qualifying Short Film festival. SBS On Demand has partnered with Flickerfest to present 49 short films that celebrate the very best of Flickerfest.

The collection includes 42 much-loved Australian and International films, as well as seven short films that celebrate the LGBTQI+ experience. Films include Academy Award nominees Butter Lamp and The Eleven O’Clock starring Josh Lawson, and Ralph, written and directed by Deborah Mailman.

Audiences can experience the 30 Years of Flickerfest collection now on SBS On Demand. Flickerfest festival will take place in Bondi from 22 – 31 January 2021.


Image: Madeleine Magee Carr, This River. Credit David Collins.

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