3.5 out 5 stars
Western Sydney is a cultural mosaic that brings together a mixture of Australia's established culture and the influence of a vast assortment of immigrants. Throughout the population, there is an underlying desire to maintain tradition while finding the definition of the country’s ever-changing identity. Here Out West is a project that taps into the array of stories that can be seen across this portion of civilization. This project introduces eight writers and five directors to share short vignettes linked by the actions of one desperate woman who takes extreme measures to save her family.
As Nancy (Geneviève Lemon) prepares to see her new granddaughter at the hospital, she realises that she forgot to cancel her regular babysitting appointment. This leaves her with an eight-year-old Lebanese neighbour, Amirah (Mia-Lore Bayeh), to take with her to the hospital. The pair eventually visits Nancy’s daughter and discovers that she has put her daughter, Grace, up for adoption and the desperate grandmother decides to kidnap the child. While making her way across the city, Nancy inadvertently crosses paths with different residents of this part of Sydney who are dealing with their own struggles.
From the guard in the parking garage to the restaurant owner who allows her and Amirah to rest, each person manages to show their own story. This adventurous project was meant to showcase the talents of young writers and up-and-coming directors with a common thread of humanity. Each segment brings to light the varying degrees of the immigration process and how these families have adapted to life in the Great Southern Land. Some pieces convey the struggles of each generation as they attempt to make their way with varying degrees of effectiveness.
Each personal account takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride of emotions with some cutting deeper than others. The standouts within a smorgasbord of well-crafted stories were The Eternal Dance, which showcases the experiences of Ashmita (Leah Vandenberg) as she confronts the final utterances of her father. Since she is a second-generation Australian of mixed-race, she cannot understand her father’s requests as he speaks in Bengali. Then within the same hospital and through a different narrative, Roxanne (Christine Milo) struggles through her shift. The nurse bears the responsibility of being the nurse on duty as Nancy leaves the nursery with her granddaughter. The Longest Shift becomes a catalyst for so many aspects of the film and Christine Milo is marvellous as the Filipino nurse.
As an exercise in collaborative filmmaking and showing the value of cultural interchange, this film is entertaining and educational. While some of the segments are stronger than others, the journey is worthwhile and it becomes a celebration of the multicultural life of Western Sydney.
Reel Dialogue: Our response to the immigrant
Many thoughts are being pushed around on the Internet about refugees and immigrants. In the heat of this discussion, it might be easy to miss how God has a heart for the poor, afflicted and oppressed. The foreigner's journey in foreign lands has been around since the beginning of human history. This begs society to consider how to respond to the needs of those crossing into new lands for the hope of new life.
There have been many books, debates, and films on the subject. What did Jesus have to say about it? He claims that he did not come for the healthy but rather for the sick (Matthew 9:12), and the apostle Paul affirms this teaching that the church is made up of the outcasts, “not many wise, not many powerful, not many of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
Like their God who loves them, the followers of Christ ought to have a special, irrepressible desire for the poor and the outcasts of this world.