Boxing Day

A gripping domestic drama of ample power, Kriv Stenders' low-budget film reminds jaded viewers of the fundamental strengths of the medium.

Pusan International Film Festival

BUSAN, South Korea -- Kriv Stenders' low-budget, digital Australian film "Boxing Day" reminds jaded viewers of the fundamental strengths of the medium. Though slightly unpolished, Stenders has crafted a gripping domestic drama of ample power. "Boxing Day" could see success in markets where the Dardennes' "The Child" and Mike Leigh's "Secrets & Lies" were modest hits.

On the afternoon after Christmas, parolee Chris (Richard Green) is preparing lunch for his brother's ex-wife Donna (Tammy Anderson) and her daughter Brooke (Misty Sparrow). Tagging along is Dave (Syd Brisbane), Donna's new boyfriend. Owen (Stuart Clark), a former associate of Chris', arrives just before the family does with both a criminal demand of Chris, and eventually an agonizing secret about Dave's own criminal past. After he leaves, Chris is left to decide how to handle the explosive revelation.

"Boxing Day" was shot (by Stenders) to appear as if filmed in one real-time take while never drawing undue attention to that fact. As opposed to feeling like a gimmick, the roving camera and seamless cuts only add to the tension building within the house and fragile family.
Stenders conceived of the film with star Green. They've put together a simple film based on a single nugget of information that's rich with human truths. It helps a great deal that Green is a ferocious screen presence. Stenders certainly establishes himself as one of Australia's most prominent digital filmmakers, one who keeps his camera focused on the marginalized in Oz society.

The film's biggest assets are its actors, a combination of pro and nonpro. There isn't a character who doesn't ring true. Each performance is as emotionally intense as it is real. Standing out among a strong cast is Anderson, who is charged with the difficult task of making empathetic Donna's initial response of placing her own problems ahead of those of an abused child. And Green's turn as a man fighting to retain a sense of balance never dips into histrionics.

A Rising Sun Pictures/Horrorshow/Smoking Gun Prods. production
Director: Kriv Stenders
Screenwriters: Kriv Stenders, Richard Green
Producer: Kristian Moliere
Executive producer: Wayne Lewis
Director of photography: Kriv Stenders
Production designer: Lisa Stonham
Co-producer: Shane McNeil
Editor: Gabriella Muir
Chris: Richard Green
Donna: Tammy Anderson
Dave: Syd Brisbane
Brooke: Misty Sparrow
Owen: Stuart Clark
Cathy: Catriona Hadden

Running time -- 81 minutes
No MPAA rating