Guido Gonzalez’s feature film about life growing up in Sydney’s multicultural western suburbs will feature alongside the best and most innovative world cinema after Riz was selected for next month’s prestigious 2015 Sydney Film Festival.
A child of Chilean immigrants, Mr Gonzalez grew up in Cabramatta and started making films when he was 18 as part of a community project.
“I was working for a year and kind of dreaming about making films but not knowing if it was possible for somebody from Cabramatta to make a film,” he said.
“When heroin was at its peak (in Cabramatta) … it was very hard to see the positive.”
The film Riz is based on real events in the life of co-director Guido Gonzalez, who grew up in Cabramatta after moving to Australia as a refugee from Chile in 1985.
He lived in the Villawood facility when it was known as a ‘hostel for refugees’ and not the ‘detention centre’ it is called today.
“My inspiration was to do a story that showcased the characters of western Sydney that you traditionally don’t see on Australian TV,” he said.
“All the characters are based on my circle of friends at the time (in high school).”
The film is an entertaining portrayal of life for young people in Western Sydney, but one that also lays bare the rarely-crossed divide between it and the city’s more affluent suburbs.
Riz also raises serious questions of both the strength and fragility of friendship and the difficulty of forgiveness.
“I always wanted to do something in film, but being from Cabra you just didn’t dare dream you could do your dreams.
“No one comes to Cabra, so why would a film director come to Cabra to teach people about film making? I thought there is no way this will happen,” Guido recalled.
It challenges us to think about how we create leaders, our responsibility to community, and everyday barriers to opportunity and change.
The film has been made on a $75,000 budget, using local unknown actors and a crew that included young aspiring film-makers.
Interview with Guido Gonzales: