Two men — an Australian photojournalist and a South Sudanese refugee — are forced to confront the twin horrors of war and grief, in director Ben Lawrence’s fiction-feature debut.
Hearts and Bones
The fiction feature debut of Australian director Ben Lawrence, Hearts and Bones explores the life-long traces of trauma with uncommon compassion and intelligence. Written by Beatrix Christian, last at the Festival with Jindabyne (directed by Ben's father, Ray Lawrence), this story of two strangers with a shared past asks thorny questions about surviving catastrophe and bearing witness.
Sydney-based photojournalist Dan Fisher (Hugo Weaving) has spent decades documenting war zones — and ignoring the effect his work has had on his psyche. Returning home from his latest assignment to prepare for an exhibition, Dan is blindsided by two surprises. The first is the news that, years after the couple lost their child, Dan's wife Josie (Hayley McElhinney) is pregnant. The second is the arrival of Sebastian (Andrew Luri), a South Sudanese refugee who's heard about Dan's work. Like Dan, Sebastian doesn't speak to his wife (Bolude Watson) about the horrors he's experienced. He wants to bury the past — and the evidence. Sebastian petitions Dan to withdraw his photos of South Sudan from the exhibition. Dan is compelled to comply, but closer examination of these images raises questions about what it is exactly that Sebastian is trying to forget.
The aptly named Hearts and Bones is so wise about the way grief lingers in our bodies long after we have expelled it from our minds. Weaving and Luri bring tremendous sensitivity, courage, and complexity to their roles, ensuring that — devastating as Dan and Sebastian's repressed memories may be — they come together in a spirit of friendship and healing.