Girl Asleep

Rosemary MyersAustralia77 minutes201614AColourEnglish

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A happy teenage misfit enters a parallel reality after her parents surprise her with an unwanted — and very big — birthday party, in this award-winning and beautifully absurdist coming-of-age tale from Australian director Rosemary Myers.

Greta is on the cusp of turning 15, recently enrolled in a new school, and perfectly content in her outsider status. When fellow oddball Elliot extends the hand of friendship, Greta is happy to accept him as one compatriot in the solidarity of solitude.

Greta's parents, however, feel compelled to mark her birthday with a full-on celebration, their ulterior motive of being to bring her out of her shell. Despite her strenuous objections, the entire school is invited and Greta's anxiety and trepidation over the whole experience soon morphs into a fantastical journey that involves mystical creatures, a forest full of symbols and secrets, and family members recast in storybook roles.

Rosemary Myers' expert direction is matched by strong scenic design by Jonathon Oxlade, and creates a world reminiscent of a lighthearted Tim Burton. The sharp 1970s setting of Greta's conscious existence seesaws with the fantastical forest of her dreamlike state, and one is never quite sure which experience she is actually living, though we can all relate to the combination of escapism, awkwardness, hesitation, and bravery required when accepting the idea of leaving your childhood behind. Quirky, sweet-natured, and highly creative, this Australian gem will challenge and charm your imagination and your emotions.

EMILY SCHEER

A quirky coming-of-age story about an oddly alluring misfit at her unwanted 15th birthday party and her surreal world of adolescent feelings. — Sariena Luy, TIFF Next Wave Committee

AUDIENCE AWARD FOR MOST POPULAR FEATURE, ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL

GRAND JURY PRIZE, SEATTLE FILM FESTIVAL

OFFICIAL SELECTION, BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL