November 7-9, 2014

My Year Without Sex

Filmmaker: 
Sarah Watt
96 minutes

Ross and Natalie and their kids Louis and Ruby lead routinely busy lives until Natalie collapses suddenly and wakes in hospital following emergency surgery. It’s weeks before she can return home, frail and grateful, anxious about the future. Friends Greg and Winona offer unsolicited advice and Natalie is persuaded to join a community choir, run by the quietly charismatic Margaret. Meanwhile, they’re ‘restructuring’ at Ross’s work. Should he jump before he’s pushed? 

Natalie’s health improves but her moods are volatile, she still can’t drive, she’s lost her job and there’s less money to spend at Christmas. Determined to find some meaning, she takes the kids to church, where she discovers Margaret is the local curate. Over the summer, the family and their new puppy travel to the Gold Coast. It’s a washout, Natalie can’t make sense of the map and Ross crashes the car.

Natalie gets part-time work, at the same time as one of Ross’s mates is retrenched. During the send-off, he and a colleague, Rosie, share a meaningful, if clumsy, embrace. The family goldfish dies and during its funeral, Ross recognises Margaret as the lead singer in a defunct ‘80s rock-band. As Natalie’s spirits sink, Ross takes charge at home. On Good Friday, the clothes’ dryer blows up, Ross can’t fix it and Natalie mistakenly assumes the kids have outgrown the Easter Bunny. Then their puppy is savagely mauled and placed on life-support, Ruby loses a tooth and there’s a further outbreak of nits.

Ross coaches Louis’s footy team to a narrow win. Afterwards, he and Natalie argue bitterly over the ethics of the victory. Natalie seeks out Margaret and they find themselves in a casino where they drink too much, sing karaoke and win the jackpot on the poker machines.

Returning home, Natalie is overcome with a blinding headache. Ross goes with her for a brain scan. Terrified she’s used up all her luck, Natalie admits she has no faith or belief, and is convinced she’ll go to hell. As Rosie is promoted to the role of Ross’s supervisor, everything seems to hang in the balance. Finally, there’s good news about the scan. For his birthday, Natalie buys Ross a bottle of champagne — not the most expensive, not the cheapest — and a cow in Sri Lanka. With the kids kept busy at Greg and Winona’s, they have just enough time if they want to break the drought and end their year without sex.

Sarah Watt is a writer, director and animator whose first feature film LOOK BOTH WAYS premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2005 and was invited to screen in more than 30 film festivals around the world. It was invited to New Films/New Directors in New York and received a Special Screening at International Critics’ Week in Cannes. Among the film’s many acknowledgements were the Discovery Award at the Toronto Film Festival; Best Film at the AFI Awards; the FIPRESCI Award at the Brisbane International Film Festival; and Critics’ Awards at the Rotterdam Film Festival and the NatFilm Festival in Denmark.

Sarah also received the Best Screenplay and Best Director Awards at the IF, AFI and Australian Film Critics’ Awards.

Before LOOK BOTH WAYS, Sarah’s short animated films had attracted widespread international attention. SMALL TREASURES (1995; 15 mins) won — amongst many awards — the Baby Lion for Best Short Film at the Venice Film Festival that year. LOCAL DIVE and LIVING WITH HAPPINESS followed, both of which screened widely at festivals and theatrically, winning many international and Australian awards.

In 2009, Lothian Children’s Books (an imprint of Hachette Australia) will publish CLEM ALWAYS COULD, a book for children, which Sarah has written and illustrated.

I was interested in how we get through our days and whether they are any better or worse for having been examined.  About whether our perception of control — or lack of it — makes any difference to our actual control.  I was interested in whether we earn our good or bad luck, or whether it’s random.  We’ve been told for many years that we earn it, and if we earn it, then we deserve everything, from luxury cars, and upgrades of everything, to complete and constant happiness. 

To explore these ideas I invented a non-ruling class family in an average suburb who could encapsulate all the anxieties and joys that our mostly muddled society has to offer.  I wanted the audience to be able to connect with these people and their sadness and happiness.  I love the big-ticket life questions writ upon the small domestic stories. 

And I wanted the film to be entertaining, to be warm, to use colour as music and music as editorial.  I wanted it to be kind of a love story between family and friends. And hopefully a little bit funny.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010
Block 4a: 4:00pm - 5:30pm