The film was shot during the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019. UNESCO's mission was to spotlight how languages play a crucial role in the daily lives of people, not only as a tool for communication, education, social integration and development, but also as a repository for each person's unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory. Director Roderick MacKay said: "I remember the first time we shot a dialogue scene between the characters Hanif, Woorak and Jundah that was spoken entirely in the Badimaya language. Watching these characters from three different cultures communicate in an indigenous language, really made me realize we were doing something for the first time with this film, and that's an extremely exciting kind of affirmation to have. And to see tears in the eyes of our Badimaya language coach, Godfrey Simpson, was just completely overwhelming. I'll never forget it." See more »
Keep making movies Roderick
I went to the limited screening of The Furnace at Perth to watch it from the perspective of Sikh community, but I ended up forgetting that and got immersed into the film's astonishing narrative. In my opinion there is something for everyone in this film, a weekend watcher will enjoy the quest side of it, a regular watcher will enjoy the exposition of characters without need of too many dialogues, the acting, the beautiful pace of the film and an avid watcher will end up finding a lot of subtle touches within the film like the significance of the dates and the fallen tree.
Roderick is the director and writer of the film and to me that is the most beautiful arrangement. To him I say, keep making movies. Nothing that he creates in future will be dull or lazy. This film could have gone wrong at so many points, but it's very finely put together. It clearly shows that Roderick understands the pitfalls of lazy writing and how Hollywood ruins beautiful constructed plots by giving into establishing larger than life characters or clichéd plot devices. None of that here.
A word has to be said about the editing and the soundtrack of the film. Editing is so subtle, so gentle and well done that it is pretty much a lesson in how to pace a slow burner. A plot like this usually suffers from unnecessary exposition and long monologues or the lack of them and long cinematic shots which try to create importance of the narrative by trying to convince you that this is an important and serious work of art (The Grey comes to mind) - pretty much spoon feeding the viewer. But in The Furnace, the editor balanced the film so well that in my opinion a lot of big budget Hollywood films can learn a lot from it.
And of course, the reason why I was invited by one of my mates to go to this screening. The film is historically quite accurate. Sikhs and Muslims have been part of the Australian outback longer than many could imagine. Their stories, rituals and routines are nicely interwoven into the fabric of the film. The turbans are accurate (for once). Many a times I've been pissed at the ready made look of Sikh turbans but in the Furnace, they are proper. Being a Sikh I can say, yes, that is us.
Well done. It's so fulfilling to see Australian cinema coming into its own. It's a film that me, a Sikh and an Australian, is proud of.
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