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Matthew Victor Pastor has been at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova complex since mid-morning, exhibiting levels of nervous energy entirely reasonable for a young director on the day he launches his latest feature. That said, with eleven hours until the World Premiere of MAGANDA! Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man, isn’t Matthew Victor Pastor likely to fade well before the post-screening Q&A, scheduled for midnight?

As it turns out, ‘energy levels’ aren’t a problem for the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) graduate. Pastor is out of his seat and fronting the sold-out Monster Fest session as soon as the end credits roll. Despite the early hour (closer to 12.30am, as it transpires), almost the entire audience has stayed. Having experienced MAGANDA! Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man, hearing what its creator has to say about its journey to the screen suddenly holds a deep fascination.

“I see myself as a boy from the 3174 Noble Park, who is very lucky to be making movies, happens to be of Asian heritage, of mixed nationalities, who grew up in this great country,” says Pastor, who co-wrote (with Kiefer Findlow), directed and stars in what might best be described as a social satire/B-movie homage/personal drama hybrid born of Melbourne’s underground movie scene and pulsing with in-your-face observations on race, gender, sex, family and the nature of filmmaking. “Making films is a really hard thing to do and when they come from a place that is a bit crazy and feature characters that are marginalised and the kind that you are not supposed to make films about…well, that makes it all very exciting.”

Self-effacing, polite and unwaveringly upbeat in person Pastor transforms into the tortured, insecure, struggling director ‘Angelo’ onscreen. Between desperate encounters with his ex-girlfriend Jupiter (regular collaborator Celine Yuen; pictured, above), sexual failings with a patient prostitute (Kristen Condon) and anguished sessions with his family (played by the director’s real-life mother and sister), Pastor’s protagonist contemplates with increasing frustration his Filipino/Australian heritage and the social perception of his culture.

“It can be very hard to both create and live with that kind of character and then to ask an audience to sit with him for two hours,” admits Pastor, refreshingly frank in his assessment of his lead character. “When Angelo says, ‘I wonder what it would be like to wake up in a white man’s skin, with a white man’s cock,’ he reveals a character that is so self-deprecating and hates himself so much. The challenge was to bring some empathy for a character that can outwardly be so unlikable.” (Pictured, left; Anthony Lawang as 'Pinoy Boy')

Pastor pitches his performance in the upper range, but assures his audience that the character’s anxiety and increasingly unhinged persona comes from research and experience. “I spend a lot of times in online forums, reading a lot of people’s comments about identity politics. ‘Angelo’ is the combination of different ideals in that sphere,” he says. “He’s actually a lot more common than you think; a lot of what he says and who he is comes directly from discussions on Asian identity in those discussions.”

It is the third of Pastor’s films to explore the Asian experience in Australia, specifically from the Filipino point-of-view. Dubbed the ‘Aus-Filo Trilogy’, it began with his VCA Masters project, I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET (2016), followed by the music video-influenced docu-drama Melodrama! Random! Melbourne!, which premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival in October.  Says Pastor, “I am making films from a different perspective, in the context of the diaspora of Asian cinema, and that’s the space that I am happy and proud to occupy.”

If MAGANDA! Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man is sounding a lot more serious than its title might suggest, the laughs come in the form of Pastor’s film-within-a-film. Recalling the scratched-negative aesthetics of VHS-era Filipino actioners, the subplot stars Koki Kaneko as a racist dairy farmer/serial killer, clad entirely in a white bodystocking, targeting Asian women on his murderous spree; on his trail is Pinoy Boy (Anthony Lawang, aka Lamaroc), a Filipino super-cop, and two local scumbag detectives, Shannon (the great Glenn Maynard) and Noll (fellow Melbourne underground auteur Stuart Simpson).            

There are moments in Pastor’s film where the improv comedy stylings (“We improvised a lot,” he laughs) and lo-fi stunt work inspires eye-rolls and giggles, but the director assured his audience that the themes and issues that he set out to address were always paramount. “It is about two worlds coming together,” says Pastor. “I don’t necessarily offer any resolution, but instead create an entry point for those worlds for the audience. There are multiple layers to achieve that - it could be the A-film, the more arthouse aspects, or the B-film genre stuff, but they both represent the same story told via different cinematic language. Is that not what coming from ‘two worlds’ means? This film is about what its like to fall between the cracks of those two worlds.”

MAGANDA! Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man will screen throughout Australia in 2019. It is currently seeking representation in overseas markets.



One of the defining thematic elements of the Star Wars films is ‘identity’. Our hero, Luke Skywalker, seeks the truth about his heritage; before him, his father Annakin is torn between destinies forged by the duality of The Force. Origins, influences and choices are central to their heroic journeys, just as they are to us all. STAR WARS Identities is a new exhibit that asks visitors to create their own Star Wars characters based upon key developmental stages – our genetic make-up, cultural influences, parental guidance, and adult belief system. Laela French, Director of Archives at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and one of America’s pre-eminent art historians, oversaw the exhibition from concept to creation and has brought over 200 original Lucasfilm artefacts to Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum for the Australian season of Identities.

“It is an exhibit that communicates the story of us, of who we are,” she said at the launch of the event last Thursday at the iconic Powerhouse building. “It helps us explore the universal factors that helped shape not only the Star Wars characters, but also that shapes us.” Ms French sat with SCREEN-SPACE to discuss her latest project… 

SCREEN-SPACE: How did the concept for STAR WARS Identities take shape?

FRENCH: We’re always looking ahead, wondering what it is that we can do that’s new. When someone pitched the ‘science of identity’ within the Star Wars universe, the response was immediate. Annakin and Luke’s story arcs were a great through-thread, then putting the visitors into the experience and having them create their own identity took shape.

SCREEN-SPACE: There is a fascinating ‘meta’ element about the Star Wars universe peeking inside the minds of its fans…  

FRENCH: And every fan wants to step into Star Wars, that’s really the essence of their fan fascination. That’s why we have legions like the 501st and the fan clubs and that’s always been the focus of our exhibits. But the exhibits also have to be educational; that’s of paramount importance. Above all else, we have to ensure they are rooted in science, whatever we are working on. So we had a huge scientific committee, working from the perspective of psychology or biometrics, utilising every iteration of the human experience that we could think of. 

SCREEN-SPACE: Identities seems to particularly reflect the living, breathing ‘human quality’ of the Star Wars story… 

FRENCH: When you pick your ‘identity quest’ you get to pick your alien species. But there are no robots there, which caused a huge debate, with some arguing, “Oh, but the kids will want to be R2,” while others rightly argued, “But it’s an artificial intelligence, and this exhibit is about organic evolution versus exactly that.” So, it was decided that, well, the kids will be disappointed but there’ll get it. The aim was to help them learn about science by putting them in the driver’s seat of the ‘identities experiment’. 

SCREEN-SPACE: Put on your ‘art historian’ hat for a moment. When do ‘pre-production drawings’ and ‘conceptual paintings’ servicing a film cross the line into ‘contemporary American art’?

FRENCH: That line was crossed the minute the stuff was made. Back in 1975, when George had this idea to create a ‘space western mythology’, he was making art. Anytime a filmmaker sets out to make something, they are creating art. My argument is that this has always been artwork, and we are just letting everyone else catch up to that way of thinking. I’ve been touring these exhibits for many years and in the early days, we were getting slammed by the art curators. Every new museum boss would scream, “This doesn’t belong in a museum, it’s not art.” In the ‘Identities’ exhibit alone, there are 200 artefacts, half of which are sketches and paintings. How can anyone not call that artwork? Just showing people the degree of artistry that goes into every film, and preserving that work just like any museum would preserve a Da Vinci or a Rodan sculpture, is one of our main aims (pictured, above; Laela French, in the Lucasfilm Archive). 

SCREEN-SPACE: How has Star Wars defied the effects of time? Why don’t those 40 year old films seem overly kitschy or quaint?

FRENCH: The answer lies in George’s original vision. Like all true visionaries, he wove a few magic moments together. The timing was amazing; in the mid-70s, there was a kind of emptiness in films, a void where a strong imaginative vision should have been. No one was doing what George envisioned. The epic visual effects, which have been talked about to death, were off the charts. He refused to settle for what was good enough at the time, instead pushing his entire special effects team to ‘create’. The hidden ingredient that’s harder to see is that the design aesthetic – all the costuming, the planets, the vehicles, everything within his field of vision – was pulled from cultures across the globe. Even the smallest element has some tie to some culture from some point in time. That means they take on a familiarity, before you’ve even seen the film, and ultimately reflect that timeless quality you refer to. Of course, the story itself is the classic ‘hero’s journey’ and brings together all those associated archetypes, so its rooted in a traditional literary formula that stays viable and meaningful forever.

SCREEN-SPACE: How would define the term ‘narrative art’ as it pertains to the Star Wars universe?

FRENCH: Narrative art is simply visual storytelling. Lasco cave paintings? Narrative art. The Last Supper? Narrative art. As technology evolves, so does the type of narrative art that we share with each other. In George’s mind, film is narrative art, taken to an epic level by advances in technology. So that’s how this exhibits fits beautifully into the Lucasfilm definition of narrative art. It is why George has created a narrative art museum; he believes the museum world is stuck in a kind of 19th century mindset and, being the kind of visionary able to see a reality much further down our time line, he wants pop culture to be treated as great art, narrative art, that resonates and that humans will respond to for years to come. It’s what defines ‘pop culture’; not everyone responds to a contemporary painting, but millions of people respond to film.

STAR WARS Identities runs at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum from November 16. Ticketing and all venue details can be found at the official website



Since its 2015 launch as a short film screening series on the hallowed grounds of the Australian War Memorial, the Veterans Film Festival has grown into a feature-film event with strong ties across the military community. In 2018, Festival Director Tom Papas welcomes mental health advocates Beyond Blue and weapons manufacturer CEA Technolgies into VFF alliances, alongside principal partner RSL National and supporters The Australian Defence Force and The Military Shop.

On Thursday November 1, the 4th annual festival launches in the national capital, Canberra, honouring the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War with five features that encompass the breadth of experience that our service men and women undertake to ensure our freedoms… 

JOURNEY’S END (Directed by Saul Dibb; Written by R. C. Sherriff and Simon Reade; U.K.; 107 mins) OPENING NIGHT
Plot: March, 1918. C-company arrives in the front-line trenches of northern France led by the war-weary Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin). A German offensive is imminent, and the officers (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Tom Sturridge) distract themselves in their dugout with talk of their lives back home as Stanhope unable to deal with his dread of the inevitable, soaks his fear in whiskey. A new officer, Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), has just arrived, fresh out of training and abuzz with the excitement of his first real posting.
What the critics say…: “Claflin projects pain and heartbreak, and surgically excises Stanhope’s defenses through the film’s third act…a deeply felt catalogue of the behaviors of men who know they’re about to die.” – Chris Packham, The Village Voice.

TRANSMILITARY (Directed by Gabe Silverman and Fiona Dawson;
Written by Jamie Coughlin and Gabe Silverman; USA; 93 mins)
Plot: Chronicles the lives of four individuals - Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace and First Lieutenant El Cook – committed to defending their country’s freedom while also fighting for their own. The four put their careers and livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon, determined to attain equal right to serve. The had the ban lifted in 2016, the group now face an administration trying to reinstate it; their futures hang in the balance, again.
What the critics say…: “[A] persuasive plea for tolerance in an arena where, it seems, the most destructive bigotry is coming from outside.” – John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

SPITFIRE (Directed by David Fairhead and Ant Palmer; U.K.; 99 mins)
Plot: Credited with changing the course of world history, this is the story of the Spitfire – told in the words of the last-surviving combat veterans. With stunning aerial footage from the world’s top aviation photographer, the film also contains rare, digitally re-mastered, archive footage from the tumultuous days of the 1940’s when her power in the skies was unrivalled.
What the critics say…: “The film succeeds in making you understand how these young men saved the country from enemy occupation and how desperately close it was…every one tells a fascinating, often gripping, story.” – Angus Wolfe Murray, Eye For Film.

SGT STUBBY: AN UNLIKELY HERO (Directed by Richard Lanni; Written by Ricahrd Lanni and Mike Stokey; USA; 84 mins)
Plot: With the war to end all wars looming, young army upstart Robert Conroy has his life forever changed when a little dog with a stubby tail wanders into camp of the 102nd Infantry Regiment. Soon, Stubby the dog and his human companions find themselves in the trenches of France and on the path to history. Undertaking an epic journey through harsh conditions and incredible acts of courage. For his valorous actions, Stubby is recognized as the first canine ever promoted to the rank of Sergeant in U.S. Army history.
What the critics say…: “This may be the first cartoon in history designed for this particular overlap of audiences: military buffs and the very, very young.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

ANNA’S WAR (Directed by Aleksey Fedorchenko; Written by Aleksey Fedorchenko and Nataliya Meshchaninova; USSR; 74 mins) CLOSING NIGHT
Plot: Soviet Union, 1941: a Jewish girl regains consciousness under a layer of black earth. Anna is six years old and hides herself in the disused fireplace of the Nazi commandant’s office. From there, she views the war and life passing by, with the threat of discovery constant. Her ingenuity, the items left behind by the slowly alternating visitors and the treasures she discovers in the adjacent rooms help her survive.
What the critics say…: “A remarkable central performance from a six-year-old child carries pretty much the entirety of this nail-biting tale of wartime survival. Marta Kozlova is quietly devastating…The child’s eye view brings a fantastical and sometimes bizarre quality to this lean, urgent story of resourcefulness born of desperation.” – Wendy Ide, Screen Daily.

The 2018 VETERANS FILM FESTIVAL screens November 1-3 at Canberra's Capitol Theatre (An Event Cinemas venue). Full festival schedule and tickets can be found at the events official website.



The SciFi Film Festival has named Prospect the 2018 Best Film winner at an informal ceremony on the Closing Night of the 4-day event in Sydney. Set for a November 2 launch in the U.S. but still awaiting a distribution deal in Australia, Christopher Caldwell’s and Zeek Earl’s retro-futuristic thriller/coming-of-age drama also earned the Best Actress trophy for star Sophie Thatcher, the teenage actress headlining her first feature.

Jury member Jonathan Ogilvie, who adjudicated alongside fellow filmmakers Julietta Boscolo and Brian Trenchard-Smith on the three-person festival jury, praised Prospect for the homage it paid to the great westerns of Hollywood’s heyday. “[It is] a tense and involving space film that mines the same vein of greed and betrayal that the earthbound The Treasure of Sierra Madre did so many years ago,” he noted, adding, “Sophie Thatcher is terrific in the lead role.” (Pictured, below; Sophie Thatcher in Prospect)

The Best Actor honour was awarded to Australian character actor Robin Queree for his frightening and fierce performance as ‘The Clown’ in Luke Sullivan’s divisive dystopian drama, Reflections in the Dust, opposite Best Actress nominee Sarah Houbolt. “Wow, this is heavy,” said the actor, referring to the weighty crystal trophy but also clearly surprised and moved by the honour. Addressing his young director, 23 year-old Luke Sullivan, Queree declared, “This all belongs to us. Me, you, Sarah, the cast, everybody was fantastic.”   

Hector Valdez’ blackly-funny time-travel romp Peaches led the Best Music/Sound category, with composer Fran Villalba and sound designer David Mantecón set to share the award. The Best Visual Effects honour, one of the most prized categories at an event celebrating the fantastical, went to U.K. filmmaker Daniel Prince for his short Invaders, a delightfully mischievous spin on ‘alien invasion’ mythology that wore its Spielberg-ian influences proudly on its sleeve. (Pictured, below; Robin Queree, in Reflections in the Dust) 

Tasked with choosing two standouts from the vast short film line-up at the festival, jury members singled out Lebanese filmmaker Fadi Baki Fdz’s steampunk-influenced automaton fable Manivelle: The Last Days of The Man of Tomorrow for the Best International Short. Young Victorian filmmakers Shane Gardam and Xavier Brydges took Best Australian Short for Westall, a recounting of this country’s most well documented yet eternally mysterious UFO encounters. 

In the wake of a particularly strong field of performances by actresses across the 2018 screening schedule, program director Simon Foster created a special Festival Director’s Award for French actress Zoe Garcia for her lead role in Charlotte Cayeux’s short Those Who Can Die. “There were several great acting turns by women in this year’s films, contributions that reflect a strength that has always been central to the best that this genre has to offer,” he said, citing Sarah Houbolt (Reflections in the Dust), Maria Guinea (Peaches) and Kestrel Leah (the short Andromeda) as some of the festival’s other highlights. “Ms Garcia’s performance was one of forceful yet dignified resistance in the face of oppression, which is both timely and timeless,” he said.

The 5th annual celebration of local and international speculative film fiction entertained an enthusiastic and committed audience sector, despite squally Harbour City thunderstorms that kept the inner-city hordes huddled indoors at key moments on the schedule. The Closing Night feature, a retro-themed screening of 1989’s Miracle Mile, was introduced by director Steve de Jarnatt in a spot pre-recorded especially for the event at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, one of the key locations from the film. (Pictured, above; Zoe Garcia from Those Who Can Die)



Variety described Prospect as the film that, “the stand alone ‘Star Wars’ films should feel like.” A vast and thrilling vision of a distant world, populated by rich, fully realized characters, the feature film debut of writer/directors Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl is shaping as the American indie discovery of 2018. Much of the buzz is thanks to lead actress Sophie Thatcher, the 17 year-old Chicagoan who brings to life ‘Cee’, a teenager forced to grow up very quickly when marooned and paired with scoundrel Ezra (Narcos star Pedro Pascal). Ahead of the film’s Australian Premiere at the SciFi Film Festival in Sydney, SCREEN-SPACE spoke with the trio via a three-way phone hook-up (Sophie in L.A.; Christopher and Zeek in Seattle) that brought the friends back in touch for the first time since their triumphant World Premiere at SXSW…

SCREEN-SPACE: How did the relationship building start on Prospect? Sophie, when did you first get a sense of what Zeek and Chris were looking for in their protagonist? And guys, what questions about the character of Cee did Sophie answer for you both?

SOPHIE: I met with them via FaceTime, and we discussed at length Cee’s character and her backstory. I was immediately drawn in by her place in the otherworldly aspects of the Prospect universe. It felt full and unique, rich in detail, and Cee’s trajectory through the universe was really interesting. She started off as more reserved and timid and just tagging along with Damon (Jay Duplass), but when she is forced to start a partnership with Ezra she begins to stand up for herself, speak her mind. I admired that very much and took very seriously the positive message that sent out to young girls.

CHRISTOPHER: A lot of what we saw in Sophie came down to a gut feeling about her. This was our first time casting for a feature film and we did a widespread search for the role. It came down to a lot of intangibles, frankly. One of the real challenges of the role is that it’s a fairly quiet role, a lot of her trajectory happens internally and wasn’t exactly all there on the page. Sophie had to bring to life so much of Cee non-verbally. We could sense the chemistry over the course of our interactions until she emerged head-and-shoulders above anyone else for the role. (Pictured, right; co-directors Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell with their SXSW Adam Yauch Award)

ZEEK: And this was a really hard movie to make. Physically arduous, the costumes were uncomfortable, a lot of on-location work. It was 40 solid shooting days during which our lead had to be in every scene essentially, so we also had to find someone who we were convinced could handle that. Turned out Sophie was, like, the most professional person on set.

SOPHIE: Oh, right (laughs). The first week was the most difficult, because we were still trying to figure out how the visors worked, and how the helmets worked. And I was already anxious about this being my first feature film, so those visors, ugh, and not being able to breathe properly (laughs). But that also became an acting tool; once I put that helmet on, I was Cee.

SCREEN-SPACE: Crafting and nurturing the complexity and chemistry of the relationship between Pedro Pascal’s Ezra and Cee is one of the film’s great triumphs. How did that take shape?

SOPHIE: It’s an interesting connection they develop, with Ezra serving as kind of a ‘broken father’ figure who ultimately lets Cee open up and form a strange bond with him. It helped to go through a similar process with Pedro while filming and actually get closer to him. And it worked the other way, too, with Cee’s determination and grit softening Ezra, which happened as Pedro and I worked together over some long days. Pedro and I really connected, from the very first time we spoke, because he’s such a warm person in general. (Pictured, above; Pedro Pascal as Ezra)

CHRISTOPHER: All credit to the actors as far as chemistry is concerned. It is something that came together so much better than even we imagined. Ezra is such a different character to Cee, it is a very odd paring on paper so the chemistry came out of the nuances that Pedro and Sophie brought to the table.

SCREEN-SPACE: A lot of press coverage for the film is focussing in on its roots in the classic American western narrative. What came first – your love of sci-fi or your love of westerns?

ZEEK: Honestly, it’s a hand-in-hand thing. The aesthetic was always very sci-fi, the two of us having grown up on Star Wars and Alien and Blade Runner, and we always wanted to make a world that was a little more gritty and retro-futuristic in that way. Thematically, though, the starting point was in a western kind of headspace. It is a low budget film and we designed it knowing much of the shoot would be out on location in a rainforest and much of it was conceived from the perspective of what you can do with a small group of actors in a frontier environment. And those types of stories naturally go very ‘western’. (Pictured, above; Pedro Pascal as Ezra, and Sophie Thatcher as Cee.)

CHRISTOPHER: What we were setting out to do was this very particular ‘frontier sci-fi’ and the western flavour emerged from that. When you have these blue-collar types, risking their lives to make a living out in the wilderness, the western tonal influence was inevitable.

SCREEN-SPACE: Roles such as ‘Cee’ are few and far between for young actresses. Hailee Steinfeld in The Coen’s True Grit or Natalie Portman in Luc Beeson’s The Professional come to mind, but there are not a lot of examples from which you can draw comparisons or inspiration… 

SOPHIE: Well, both of those parts were absolutely great inspirations. Also, the independence that Jennifer Lawrence displayed in Winter’s Bone inspired me. But, you’re right, there aren’t that many roles out there other than the ones you named, which were perfect.

CHRISTOPHER: I remembered we talked about some of the Miyazaki protagonists as well…


CHRISTOPHER: …from Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, which have these strong female lead characters. I don’t think there was ever really a direct reference, but I grew up on those movies and there is definitely something of their DNA ingrained into Prospect. I think tonally they are probably closer than True Grit or The Professional, although we certainly did draw on those as well.

SCREEN-SPACE: Your film’s other great asset is the intricacy of the world-building. Who had the experience to help pull of this degree of conceptualising?

ZEEK: Well, no one in the film had the correct background for doing this kind of thing (laughs). We had been running a commercial production company in Seattle for a few years and got to know a lot of people who knew how to do those things, so we formed a sort of art collective. The guy who built the spaceship came from a background building bikes, and we had friends with experience in home carpentry who helped out. We had an ex-Boeing engineer, and a guy who wanted to get out of the firearms industry come design and build our fake guns. We had the budget of a small, indie horror movie and we wanted to create a huge Star Wars-like universe. We didn’t have the option of going through the conventional industry channels, so we made our own production design shop. It was funny when producers who had a lot more experience would show up on our set, they were blown away by how much more detail there was than on other, bigger sets. I’m guessing a lot of that grew out of our amateurism, where we thought, ‘Well, we don’t know what’s going to be on camera so lets just make everything!’ (laughs) But that made for a totally immersive experience for everyone, I guess, which must have helped. (Pictured, above; Sophie Thatcher, as Cee)

CHRISTOPHER: We wanted to have a very utilitarian look for everything. This piecemeal production design team really complimented that aesthetic intention, in that it wasn’t industry types coming with a lot of experience making props, but it was industrial designers and graphic designers coming from experience making functional products who were open to left-field ideas.

PROSPECT will have its AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE at the SciFi Film Festival at Event Cinemas George St Sydney on October 20 at 6.00pm. Full ticket and session details here.