Rites of Passage (2013) Poster

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9/10
Rites of Passage - moving through transitions of adolescence
chris_storm14 February 2015
A riveting social commentary about adolescence, life, and survival filmed in a meaningful and powerful way. Raw yet poignant tales entwined with innovative filming techniques keep you spell bound as this film follow several story lines simultaneously.

Kudos to all the participants for capturing the angst and experimentation so often attributed to adolescence, that has developed a deeply moving narrative and fabulous film.

So wonderful to receive the breath of fresh air that comes from seeing a film that hasn't caved in to commercialism and Hollywood crap.

Well done to you all, would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to gain further insight into surviving adolescence in our complex and often confusing contemporary society.
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9/10
Great, raw, gritty film with plenty of heart
Halfatinofbeans29 January 2015
Not many films are as honest and raw as this. Not many films would care enough for the underprivileged, unappreciated, ignored society we're too quick to label in Australia's poor suburbs. What this film does is question our roles as parents.

While the kids go through a series of self discoveries, though journeys they're not even aware they're on, we see their lives are heading for a place that is a bleak, hopeless and destructive. There's no guiding light for them here. Life is it's greatest teacher and the movie, to it's wonderful credit, doesn't do it in a sentimental way but in an intimate, truthful approach we see and feel them find out for themselves. It doesn't come without costs. Not everyone comes out of it unscathed.

The cast mostly comprises of real kids in similar situations and circumstances the movie presents and Director Phil Crawford does a terrific job in cutting the fat and passing no judgement on their actions-rather he presents it just as fact.

Kudos must go to everyone involved with this film. It experiments with shooting styles that on paper you may question but on this film it succeeds. A brave, fearless piece of film-making that deserves to be seen as a counterpoint to how most Australian films potray us to be.

Houso's shows us a kind of over the top satire of this community but if you want to dig deeper you couldn't ask for a better tour than this little gem. Great work.
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9/10
A great movie - the real world of so many of our youth.
bandk44 February 2015
We were fortunate to be able to show this film to members of our organisation. These are people who work with and mentor young people - many of whom have had experiences like those in the film. It was hard-hitting and very moving. Anyone who works with young people - parent, mentor, grandparent, youth worker who wants to understand the worlds our young people live in, must see this film.

We see the challenges our young people face and their strength and resilience grow as they overcome them. What is particularly inspirational is that it was the young people themselves who made the film - they acted, filmed and told their stories from their perspective. You will laugh and you will cry - but most of all you will celebrate with them as overcome challenges, gain understanding and find they too have skills, knowledge and accomplishments and a place in the world.
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10/10
Fantastic movie with local heart
annabelle-sparkles29 January 2015
genius ! Unscripted & so achieves poignant reality within each scene by using cinematographic techniques to grab the viewer and pull them into the life of each young person. Rites Of Passage is Well worth watching - after all, we've all been teenagers & these guys are no different. At it's simplest, Rites is Local kids growing through their circumstances. This movie has immense positive impact in the lives of the young actors - and this is beautifully conveyed to those who watch it. Weather you identify with a character, or just knew someone like them, Rites Of Passage will make you remember good times, & bad, awaken your empathy, and if you are anything like me, it will linger in your mind for years and drive you to question some of your own choices.
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9/10
A uniquely rewarding movie experience, highly recommended for teenagers and older
andrewbunney30 January 2015
Rites of Passage (Aust 2013 dir. Phillip Crawford)

Rites of Passage is a feature drama set in the suburbs of the Illawarra in NSW. As the name suggests, the film is concerned with teenagers negotiating the dangers and discoveries of their age. It is a multi-character film exploring issues including schooling, romance, drugs and other crimes and misdemeanours, all set against a backdrop of imperfect families, many suffering the traumas of domestic violence.

Six dramatic scenarios unfold in a novel way, more resonating with each other than overlapping. Kids are initially just getting by, though often they triumph against the odds, too. For all the weighty themes, there is great delight and humour in these stories.

The filmmaking is superb with gorgeous imagery and audacious editing. All scenes were shot on more than one camera, giving rise to very stylish cinema. The many characters are quickly established through affecting performances that always ring with authenticity.

This beautiful movie is all the more impressive as the young cast also crewed the shoot. Guidelines were in place that required that the script come from the actors, that the locations used be in their neighbourhood and, fittingly, that the first screening be in the community. It had also wisely been resolved that should an actor fail to show up, the production would continue with necessary adjustments to the storyline. This model of filmmaking brings to mind British social realism mixed with Lars von Trier's Dogme 95. The project was auspiced by Beyond Empathy (BE), a group who, "Love art and hate disadvantage".

From this brilliant conception emerges a stylish self-portrait of resilient kids responding to the challenges surrounding them. Clearly, both the young people involved and their community have been transformed in the process of making this film and the viewer has to marvel at the breathtaking success of this inspired intervention. Rites of Passage is a uniquely rewarding movie experience highly recommended for teenagers and older.

Rating: 4 & ½ stars out of 5

Andrew Bunney Let's Go To The Pictures Three D Radio, Adelaide
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9/10
Among the most remarkable and moving films produced in Australia in recent years.
evanwilliamsreviews8 February 2015
"Directed and edited by Phillip Crawford, Rites of Passage is among the most remarkable and moving films produced in Australia in recent years. The freshness and spontaneity of the storytelling masks a disciplined cinematic technique in which seemingly random and disconnected episodes are brought together to form a satisfying whole.

It is an example of community filmmaking in the most literal sense. The film is essentially a co-operative enterprise involving scores of young people (and many older ones) in Wollongong's southern suburbs, all of whom have shared in some way in the creative process as performers, extras or production assistants. The result is a picture of day-to-day life among a cross-section of Wollongong's multicultural working-class community that has the unmistakable ring of authenticity. These youngsters aren't following some pre-ordained script or contrived narrative; they are revealing their own lives in a film charged with truth and raw humanity.

The success of Rites of Passage owes much to a set of ten principles to which all participants were bound. They are enunciated on-screen at the start of the film and essentially have to do with ideals of sharing and co-operation, a rejection of elitism and a sense of equality among all those taking part. The result could easily have been muddled and unfocused. But the naturalism and honesty of the performers goes well with the stories they tell – the pains of family breakup, a boy's love for his dog, the efforts of local teachers to instil in their charges an understanding of literature and a talent for self-expression. Visually striking in its mixture of colour and heavily-filtered black-and-white cinematography, film combines a sense of immediacy with a strange mood of timelessness. The final sequence is brilliantly suspenseful. Rites of Passage will not be easily forgotten."

Evan Williams, film critic, The Australian, (1981-2014)
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9/10
Brilliant, thought provoking film - recommended viewing
marykagibson5 February 2015
Outstanding film about young people - recommended viewing for anyone working with young people - it gives a detailed and moving insight into the way that young people think and what motivates them. Well made by young people who know their subject matter and how they want to portray it. This film was shown to a regional youth mentoring organisation with everyone providing quality feedback and appreciating the opportunity to gain an insight into the young people of today and how this knowledge can be used to help support them on their journey into adulthood. A sincere thank you to those involved in producing the film - and congratulations on producing such a great film.
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9/10
Down to earth reality film from the heart
joevandermeer1 February 2015
It took me a while to get into this film because it is so different to the adult-scripted movies I'm used to watching. But I found this to be an excellent 'off-the-cuff' film made by the adolescents who star in it, as they present facets of their varied lives in a very natural way. Handhelds, no forced acting or awkward forced scripting. A young man reluctantly came to its screening on his 17th birthday, yet by the end of the film he applauded enthusiastically and praised it and started a long conversation with the film makers. To me, one measure of success of any film is its ability to stimulate people of all ages to connect with others to share life experiences, turning them into meaningful conversations with each other, which builds community. I also enjoyed hearing about the life- changing impact that the making of this film had on its young makers and stars. A movie with heart, worth watching and sharing in conversation!
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9/10
Raw, real, confronting and moving.
tessaj1729 January 2015
This isn't a documentary but it is far from fiction. The eclectic style, using a dizzying array of film types and techniques takes a little getting used to but this film thrives on it. The story lines develop gradually and the cast, though inexperienced, show some remarkable talent. This film gives a close up, no holds barred insight to the lives of young people growing up in the suburbs. All the usual elements are here - young love, conflict, temptation, adults who don't understand,risk taking, sex, drugs the lot. The subject matter is dealt with honestly and there is no glossing over the tough lives these kids grow up in. Yet there is an incredible resilience, humour and definitely hope. I came away feeling a bit sad but at the same time full of admiration for the achievements of everyone involved.
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10/10
A beautiful, moving, accomplished film.
Vivienne-skinner29 January 2015
This is a deeply moving film made by a group of young people under the direction of award winning Australian director, Phillip Crawford, whose work I have admired for many years. None of the young people are professional actors but you wouldn't know it from the extraordinary performances they put in. Although their lives are hard, the film is not about misery. It shows that their hopes, plans, dreams are like those of young people anywhere. In amidst the family and personal drams there is plenty of love and joy. I particularly loved the cinematography - stunning urban and natural landscapes and shot in a most intimate way. A special film. A must see film.
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10/10
Brings gold from unexpected places - pure alchemy
kkmiller-1035131 May 2015
This is a movie of extraordinary humanity. It reached into parts of my being that few other movies have which is one reason I'm giving it ten out of ten. It opens as if it's a contemporary documentary and the characters are so true to themselves that it was not long before I was seeing it as the real life of these kids. I kept telling myself that I know it's scripted fiction but a part refused to believe it and I was drawn into their intertwining stories.

At the heart of the movie are moments of discovery. The kids hear their teacher speak of her father and they suddenly discover her. They listen to a class clown read his poetry and they suddenly discover the real him. Another speaks of his grandma and they discover an eloquence that he's safely hidden from them - until now. Other characters discover themselves and find lodes of justice and honesty and vulnerability that take them by surprise. It is these times of discovery that form the liminal moments that give rise to the title of the movie.

I am amazed that such a profound result could come from a filming process that refuses to either start or finish with the professional gloss of modern movie-making. Any kid who wanted a part got worked into the production – that's probably not a casting method likely to produce the best results. It's especially the case when we consider that the kids themselves have the chaotic lives that we see in their on-screen characters. It was these kids who wrote the script as they went along. The team putting this whole thing together have managed to hold a bunch of teenagers sufficiently focused to bring gold out of dark places.

Let's recap – you start with a set of ten production rules that themselves make the project rather wobbly, then you add in anybody who wants to take part, remembering that members of the cast are themselves chaotic and wounded by life already, you get them to write the script, and you produce gold. This is ten out of ten alchemy.
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9/10
Awesome film with several stories weaving together to provide a range of perspectives.
ladybug_cottage4 February 2015
This was a great movie, really interesting stories and characters. I'm very impressed that the movie was made by people without film/script experience. I would have liked to know more about what happened in some of the stories, as they got me hooked! It took a little while to get a grasp of the weaving of the stories, though it wasn't long before it was easy to follow the various plot lines.

It was awesome to see a variety of local people and places. The project guidelines have allowed the audience to hear some fantastic perspectives that may have otherwise been unseen and unheard. Referencing the production through including screening at the end gave a bit of an insight into the work that went on to get the movie up and running. Well done to all the cast and crew.
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