Over the past year I’ve discovered and become extremely intrigued by director Kim Farrant. She came to my awareness through a SAG interview where she spoke in depth about her process of working with actors and how she draws out their best performances. Shortly after that, the film school I’d attended held a screening of Strangerland and a Q&A with Kim. Alumni were invited and although the film had already been released on Netflix, I waited until the screening to see it.
Strangerland premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and takes place in a tiny, isolated, Australian town. A family has moved there to escape the fallout from an incident involving their teenage daughter but, as the saying goes, “wherever you go, there you are.” Soon both children have disappeared into the wilderness without a trace, leaving the parents to torture themselves and each other with guilt and blame as they struggle to reunite and mend their family. The film received mixed reviews and audience response but I’ve seen it twice, now, and I think every actor and indie filmmaker should see it. Nicole Kidman turns in a stunning performance (the rest of the cast is great as well) and the look and sound of the film is haunting, poetic and mesmerizing. The story is told from a relentlessly dark perspective which means you have to be in the mood for it but it’s a beautiful piece of work.
Farrant has a running theme throughout her work of brutally honest and vulnerable sexuality. She’s interested in what makes us sexual, how we repress or express our sexuality, what’s different and unique about our sexuality and how actors can embody sexual energy in their work (which is a highly creative energy). These themes are explored in Strangerland but also in her short films and documentaries, clips of which you can see on her website and which are absolutely fantastic. She also coaches actors to achieve a high (and deep) level of truth in their work. These particular specialties of Kim’s are what make her so fascinating to me and what make her a true actor’s director with the eye of a cinematic filmmaker. I love finding all of these things wrapped up in one woman and she’s definitely one to watch.