Insight

Acclaimed student film tackles racism in Australia

Student film, Across Borders is receiving rave reviews for its raw take on racism in Australia. The short, was written and directed by Abhishek Parasher as part of his final project at SAE, was selected by Academy Award and BAFTA-accredited film festival, Flickerfest for its World Premiere last month.
Student film. Actor of colour looking distressed

The film took five days to shoot in Melbourne, and portrays the struggle of an Indian family, and the harassment from the family’s neighbour.

“I really wanted to explore this issue in the film because it’s a theme that’s not generally covered in the media, nor is it spoken about in society. It’s just accepted as part of immigrant life,” Abhishek shared.

“The father, who moved to Australia, comes from the perspective that he’s fortunate to be here and is a guest in the country.

“The daughter, who was born in Australia, gets frustrated when the neighbours kick their bins over and play music loudly at night, and her father just wants to ignore it.

"At the end of the film, the father stands up for his family. Just because he’s an immigrant, he realises he shouldn’t be the subject of discrimination."

Abhishek, who was born in Australia and from an Indian family, said he’s had varied experiences of this immigrant mentality.

“Even though I’m fortunate that my parents have been able to stand up for themselves, I’ve come across this mindset within my wider group of family and friends. They feel they should apologise if someone reacts negatively towards them – it’s as if they feel inferior to white Australians.”

The film, Abhishek explained, wasn’t without its challenges. “We shot the film in Geelong in August 2020, four days before we went into a stage five lockdown, so that was an incredibly stressful time.

“Due to the short time frame, we had to change the dynamics of the filming as we’d lost the location we originally wanted to film at. That was a big part of the film, so we had to change to a cinematic style; this led to a change from static to handheld filming – those two weeks of pre-production honestly felt like two years!”

Across Borders was produced as part of Abhishek’s Bachelor of Film degree at SAE Melbourne and has since been selected for its world premiere at Flickerfest and gained attention from Screen NSW. “Almost the entire crew were from SAE; made up of students from my class, and previous graduates.

"My teachers at SAE were amazing. From pre to post production they helped guide the story of the film. Without that support I don’t know if the film would have been selected by Flickerfest."

“The whole experience with Flickerfest and the exposure the film’s received through Screen NSW has been crazy, you don’t believe it until it’s happening!”

SAE General Manager, Dr Luke McMillan congratulated Abhishek on the success of the film and the themes it explores.

“I would like to praise Abhishek on everything he has achieved with his film Across Borders so far. Being recognised by Flickerfest alongside experienced and seasoned filmmakers is outstanding.

“At SAE we encourage students to make impactful content that creates meaningful discussion. Abhishek has successfully accomplished that.”

Film students working with a camera

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