Are You Still Watching? - Short Animation Coming Soon — Sissy Screens
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Author: Sissy Screens

Are You Still Watching?

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Are You Still Watching?: A short animation by Sissy Screens

In the midst of Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown, Jamie finds reprieve from the monotony of isolation through their imagination, sensuality and some help from iconic onscreen queer characters.

Synopsis
Jamie is a 20 something year old non-binary person living in Melbourne. They’re whip-smart, creative and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema and pop culture. They’re also single, bored and perpetually horny.

Forced into near-isolation during Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown, Jamie keeps themselves entertained bingeing on queer film and TV. What begins as mere escapism turns sensual when they start having sexual delusions involving their favourite queer characters. Fantasy and reality merge as they recount their erotic encounters to their physician Dr. Holland and receive an unusual diagnosis.

Are You Still Watching? explores the emancipatory power of the queer imagination, combining erotic fan fiction tropes, magical realism and a firm camp sensibility.

Screenings & Selections

Official Selection Wicked Queer: Boston's LGBT Film Festival 2021

Official Selection Inside Out: Toronto LGBT Film Festival 2021

Official Selection Frameline: San Franciso International LGBTQ+ Film Festival 2021

Official Selection Palm Springs: Short Fest 2021 (Nominated for Best Comedy Short & Best LGBT+ Short)

Directors' Statements

Statement by Director/Writer Tali Polichtuk
Are You Still Watching? draws inspiration from a pantheon of queer films and TV shows and was made entirely by LGBTQIA+ creatives, cast and crew.

When Melbourne Queer Film Festival & Creative Victoria announced the Queer Lives in Isolation initiative, I seized the opportunity to develop animated queer fan fiction in collaboration with filmmaker Alex Cardy & visual artist Kitty Chrystal. Together we pulled together all the quintessential lockdown tropes, threw in some camp humour and magical realism and distilled these elements into a crazy and ambitious little short.

While its tone is firmly tongue in cheek, the film reflects on the importance of art in times of crisis. Moving image works in particular offered much-needed respite during Melbourne’s isolating second lockdown and offered a safe haven to engage with LGBTQIA+ culture and content.

Are You Still Watching? is a production by Sissy Screens, a digital magazine dedicated to queer screen culture supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. It was heartening to see the State Government, various local councils and arts organisations expand funding opportunities to help foster creativity and artistic expression during those dire months and we are thankful for the support of Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Victoria Together and Creative Victoria for making this project possible.

Statement by Director/Art Director/Character Designer Kitty Chrystal
My approach to colour and visuals for Are You Still Watching? was heavily informed by my long-time love of piecing together a colour scheme of bright, urgent colours. My work often sees characters challenging social pressures, with exaggerated linework and intense expressions. Wrapping these characters in uplifting hues and pastel colours offers this visual reserve of power, and with Jamie’s journey in AYSW that felt important.

Sorcha Mackenzie and Adam Price are two wonderful artists whose work I deeply admire. In their respective ways, they create these worlds of mystery and expansiveness—it feels like there’s a whole narrative existing just outside the borders of a drawing, and you want to know the full story. AYSW already has this exciting, funny, and deeply vulnerable energy—and Mackenzie and Price’s transformation of it into the visual reinforced this perfectly, with their own touch of magic.

Zoe Terakes gave so much to this role, with their hilarious deadpan delivery and that iconic husky voice! It was an honour to have them work on this project, as someone whose work we all admire and who has such an important voice on the scene. I feel so happy for young people today growing up with the likes of Zoe Terakes on the screen, being vocal and proud of their queerness and transness, and also just being an amazing actor.

Jamie’s character design as a femme non-binary person felt close to my heart, as something I am myself. Whilst non-binary representation in film and TV is slowly growing, its so important to keep making space for varying presentations. There can be a misconception of non-binary being a third gender, something that exists in the middle of male and female, perfectly andorgynous. And there are many people to whom that feels right which is fantastic, and there are also many others at wildly varying degrees of the spectrum. Non-binary representation helps further carve out the spaciousness for people to feel comfortable expressing their gender identites authentically.

Dedicated to all the queer filmmakers, artists & creatives who kept us entertained, inspired and horny throughout lockdown.

Team Bios

Kitty Chrystal —
Kitty Chrystal is a non-binary artist, illustrator and animator based in Birraranga (Melbourne). With a focus on figurative drawing, rendered in a combination of ink and digital media, their work explores themes of sexuality, body image and gender euphoria. They seek to celebrate the authenticity of queer existence through art.

Alex Cardy —
Alex Cardy is an award-winning director of photography. Her previous work has screened at Outfest, Venice International Film Festival, MIFF and MQFF amongst others. She is one of the founders of Sissy Screens and is passionate about nuanced queer characters and their stories.

Tali Polichtuk —
Tali Polichtuk is a writer and film programmer. Her work has been published widely and she serves as the Editor of Sissy Screens. Are You Still Watching? is her directorial and screenwriting debut inspired by her love of slash fiction, queer cinema and Sarah Paulson.

Zoe Terakes —
Zoe Terakes is an actor and activist working on Gadigal Land. They have starred in Wentworth, Janet King, Ellie and Abbie, The End, and more. Their latest work can be seen in 9 PERFECT STRANGERS, alongside Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy. They have worked on stages across Australia, earning them a Helpmann nomination for their work in A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE at Melbourne Theatre Company. Zoe is a trans masculine person, and they are heavily involved in trans rights activism in Australia, and on a global scale.

Alexandra George —
Alexandra is an established producer and Head of Branded Content at Sissy Screens, whose multifaceted practice spans short and long-form film, television, music video, online, video installation and commercial formats. Her films have been programmed by major Australian and international film festivals including Telluride Film Festival (USA), MIFF Accelerator, Sydney FF Dendy Awards, Flickerfest and St Kilda FF.

Sorcha Mackenzie —
Sorcha Mackenzie is a Melbourne-based printmaker, artist, videographer and musician. Sorcha’s visual work is a surrealist combination of seemingly disparate elements woven into a unified visual narrative structure; exploring themes of identity and relationships between organic forms and architecture. Sorcha has exhibited extensively internationally and in 2021 looks to extend her printmaking practice by undertaking a Masters of Contemporary Art.

Adam Price —
Adam Price is a multidisciplinary visual artist and tattooist from Aotearoa New Zealand. Since moving to Melbourne in 2018, he has been a part of several exhibitions and collaborated on album art with some of Melbourne’s best queer musicians.

Jennifer Leonfore —
Jennifer Leonforte is an emerging Sound Editor and Assistant Supervisor. As a disabled, queer, and autistic person, Jennifer enjoys interpreting stories through a different lens, and bringing a unique perspective to her sonic choices. Her recent credits include sound editing for Ludo's The Strange Chores, Hoodlum's Five Bedrooms, Stan's The Commons, ABC's Harrow and Best Sound in TV AACTA nominated Operation Buffalo.

Stellar Ruby Marshall —
Stellar Ruby Marshall is a Naarm/Melbourne-based producer and composer. They also create raw and powerful music under the moniker ENOLA, a modern telling of post-punk, grunge and shoegaze.

Frances J Clark —
Frances J Clark is an artist and writer based in Naarm (Melbourne). In her work she is drawn to the esoteric and metaphysical undercurrents to human experience and the psyche. She is fascinated by dream, astrology and the uniqueness to each individual's story.

Liz Esguerra —
Liz Esguerra is a queer actress of mixed Filipino and African descent. She has appeared in shows that include Glitch, Neighbours, My Life Is Murder and Hamish and Andy’s True Story as well as theatrical productions for Complicité Theatre UK and Malthouse Theatre. She is a Green Room Award nominee and is fluent in Filipino (Tagalog).

Kassie Junkeer —
Kassie Junkeer is a dancer with interests in music and sound. Her work draws on nostalgia, pastiche and shadow self expression. She is interested in new things that touch our old souls and vice versa.

Credits & Technical Specs

Credits
Created by Sissy Screens

Directed by Tali Polichtuk, Alex Cardy & Kitty Chrystal
Produced by Alexandra George
Written by Tali Polichtuk

Featuring
Zoe Terakes as Jamie
Frances J Clark as Dr Holland

Art Director & Character Design by Kitty Chrystal
Cinematography by Alex Cardy
Cityscape Artist & Animation by Sorcha Mackenzie
Backgrounds, Colour & Animation by Adam Price

Sound Supervisor & Mix by Jennifer Leonforte
Music Composition by Stellar Ruby Marshall
Sound Edited by Lachlan Harris

With
Victorian Premier Porter by Liz Esguerra
Adèle Bready Lady, Nurse Sarah & Léa by Kassie Junkeer
Femme Power Top by Eugene Howard
Park Dog by Ernie Cardy-Polichtuk

Behind The Scenes Photography by
Anna Hay

Special Thanks to
Unison Sound
Thought & Found

Technical Specs
Ratio: 2K WS Scope (2048x858)
Sound: 5.1 Surround Sound (Stereo Mix Available)
Type: Colour Animation
Frame Rate: 24fps
Duration: 5:58min

Acknowledgements

This film was made possible by support from Creative Victoria and Melbourne Queer Film Festival.

The filmmakers acknowledge the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations who are the custodians of the land on which this film was made, and pay their respect to Elders past, present and future.

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