‘Rites of Passage’ to screen at Warsaw Film Festival

25 September, 2013 by IF

Rites of Passage to Screen at Prestigious Warsaw Film Festival this October Following Best Director Win at Colorado International Film Festival



The raw, uncensored and honest film made in Australia’s Illawarra region by award-winning film-maker Phillip Crawford, Rites of Passage will screen this year at the Warsaw Film Festival, an International Federation of Film Producers Association Official Competitive Film Festival, and one of only 14 Film Festivals in the world with this accreditation alongside Cannes, Venice and Berlin.  The film has been selected to compete in the Free Spirit Competition (for independent and rebellious films from around the world) and will screen on October 12, 16 and 18.


The powerful feature length drama inspired by the real life experiences of the young people involved in making the film has also won the Best Director: First Feature category at the Colorado International Film Festival in August this year.  This same month Rites of Passage received an Honourable Mention at the International Film Awards in Berlin and screened at the Woods Hole Film Festival in the USA as well as being shown at Canada’s The Bay Street Film Festival.  Locally the film won the Best Film Award at the Auburn International Film Festival for Children and Young Adults, an award judged by a jury of young adults who recognised Rites of Passage as a once in a generation film about youth today.


Rites of Passage will also premiere in Greece at the Cyprus International Film Festival in the Golden Aphrodite competition: First Features Premiere in October.  An upcoming screening for the film is scheduled in October for the São Paulo International Film Festival, one of the most important film events in Latin America and Rites of Passagehas been selected to compete in the New Filmmakers Competition. Additionally, the locally made film will screen at the 2013 Social Justice Film Festival in Seattle towards the end of next month. 


The tale of six interwoven stories showing the risk-taking, disappointment, joys and love that come with growing up, Rites of Passage is a once-in-generation film about youth today. 


Shot in glorious mayhem on cameras ranging from 16mm, Super 8, digital SLRs, Handycams, Infrared Black and White as well as iPhones, for the past three years community arts organisation Beyond Empathy (BE) has been passionately working with this young but extraordinary talent to make the thought-provoking Rites of Passage.


Each of these young participants has their own real story.  They might battle homelessness or alcohol abuse or drug addiction.  They might live in public housing and come from families that have seen disadvantage and hardship.  With frankness and courage, these young people have dipped below the surface of their often tough exteriors to reveal what’s going on inside their lives. 


“As a youth worker for over 25 years and a film-maker, I have had the humbling experience to meet the most extraordinary people – all that have gone through hardships others would imagine impossible to cope with but somehow they have this spunk and resilience that I find truly inspiring.  It is this unique resilience that gives them the ability to navigate through the challenges that come their way and make sense of their often crazy worlds.  Some of the pain in adolescence happens when you realise things aren’t going to turn out exactly as you had hoped and talking about that stuff that hurts can help.  Like the young people in the class story of Rites of Passage, they found by sharing their poems, their creative efforts to share these issues enabled others to be inspired, at its heart it is a very simple idea” said Director, Phillip Crawford. 


None of these young people have acted before yet their performances are moving, personal and profound.  Their authenticity blurs the line between fact and fiction, with the making of the film becoming their own rite of passage.


“For me as a film-maker, inspiration comes from the moments when people face internal turmoil – guilt, responsibility, regret – and manage to find constructive and hopeful ways to deal with the pain involved.  Sometimes the way people deal with that pain doesn’t always make sense but I find looking at those moments, we realise what it really means to be human” said Phillip. 


“One of the most significant things I realised as a youth worker involved parents – when young people go through difficulties or particularly painful periods, if they have at least one parent who hangs in there and tries to find ways to talk to them, they are more likely to have a ‘safe base’ to explore the trials of adolescence.  The stories in Rites of Passage hopefully encourage the conversation between young people and their parents to talk about life and growing up.  There are never simple answers but staying in the conversation can be a lifeline”.


Rites of Passage has become a platform for the young participants – some are now working in film and media with one young man cast in the first series of Redfern Now. For others, it has been the stepping stone to seek career advice and help for drug and alcohol addiction.


Rites of Passage is a joyous film of quiet optimism and beauty that is changing lives and opening the hearts of everyone who sees it.  In late 2012 BE conducted a highly successfully crowd-funding campaign to raise money for post-production.  A target of $25,000 was reached in just 10 days, eventually raising $30,950 over the month-long campaign.


BE is a not-for-profit community, arts and cultural development organisation that creates art projects in Australia with people living on the margins of their communities to tell their stories and engage with new futures.  We love art and we hate disadvantage!  




Premiere screenings are scheduled to take place in: Adelaide (November 27), Alice Springs (December 9), Bowraville (October 28), Brisbane (October 24), Canberra (November 20), Coffs Harbour (December 11), Darwin (December 7), Gold Coast (November 18), Hobart (November 6) Illawarra (October 17November 4 and 28), Lismore (November 24), Logan (December 2), Melbourne (October 20), Perth (October 28), Port Macquarie (December 4), Sydney (October 30) and Tamworth (November 13). For more information keep an eye on: www.ritesofpassage.org.au


Each screening will include a Q&A with the film-makers and some of the young people involved in the making of the film and each audience member will receive a digital link to the film



Rites of Passage is stimulating a dialogue about what’s really happening in the  lives of young people today.


Rites of Passage has been made according to 10 principles:

1. The making of the film should assist people living with hardship to build new futures

2. All key actors must be amateurs and live in the community where the film is shot

3. There can be no traditional script and more than one story line

4. The story lines must be developed with the actors, drawing on their life experiences

5. If an actor fails to turn up, the shoot still goes ahead, creating a new direction for the film


6. The film must be shot in real locations in the community

7. Key actors and the production team should all operate cameras, sound, lighting and other equipment

8. Every scene should be shot with different types of cameras and in different styles

9. All the credits must be in alphabetical order, with no-one credited as writer or creator

10. The first screening must be held in the community where the film was made


For more information, please contact:

Adele Feletto Publicity M: 0413 489 292 E: adele@adelefelettopublicity.com.au