Golden Girl

Janette Turner Hospital’s Golden Girl is a breathtaking story that, despite its diminutive size, covers remarkable dramatic terrain and ends with potency and catharsis. Holly Alexander’s wonderfully creative adaptation, while true to the original, is a unique and powerful piece of work in its own right. It attracted me immediately with its depth of emotion and filmic possibilities. I feel great responsibility to the many who have read and love this story, and I hope that I have done justice to it in its translation to screen and hopefully added something along the way.

Golden Girl unfolds as a fluid tapestry, working at once as a flashback narrative unraveling the events behind Cilla’s burns, with a strong present tense drama about moving on from tragedy and purging guilt. The original story is so firmly centred in Cilla’s point of view – she was the beautiful girl so used to being looked out, now just wishing to hide – that we decided to continue this idea into the visual treatment of the film, and shoot most of it literally through her eyes.

It is this unique storytelling approach that I hope gives Golden Girl the chance to crossover what are often seen as two separate film camps: the narrative short, and the experimental. We anticipate that the unusual use of first person POV, its dreams and nightmares, the fluid aspects of the script’s structure, will create for its audience a singular cinematic experience. We are also confident that the film has strong, emotional impact leading to a resonant ending that connects with audiences.

For me, Cilla’s bandages are a visual metaphor for her denial and guilt. She is reluctant to take the bandages off, presumably so that others may not see her “real” self. The closing image of Cilla’s bandages being peeled back demonstrates her moment of transition. Her moving stoicism in that moment frees Wendy too. It was in this moment that I caught my breath when I read Holly’s script, and told me I must direct this film.

Grant Scicluna