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Ivan Sen’s Loveland

Kicking off the 2022 Deckchair Cinema season is Ivan Sen’s latest film, Loveland. Set in futuristic Hong Kong, it follows an assassin who falls for a nightclub singer. But as he falls deeper, his body mysteriously deteriorates.

The award-winning director of Mystery Road and Goldstone is in town for this special screening. Tierney Seccull caught up with him for a chat.

Can you tell us a little bit about Loveland and the inspiration behind it?
It was my first holiday to Hong Kong, really. I went to Hong Kong and just felt the energy of the place – it just had a really big impact on me. I didn’t know at the time what I wanted to do, but I just thought I’ve got to write a film set here.

It’s a pretty kind of futuristic place, so it was easy to think of it in a futuristic setting. For me, it also feels pretty romantic – the neon lights, the busy city, it just kind of went from there. That was a long time ago though, that was 2009, and so the story’s slowly evolved from that trip to Hong Kong. But that’s usually how I write things, I find the location and then I find the characters and kind of evolve it from there.

So, when you’re thinking about where you might go for a holiday, does the fact that it could lead to a story play a part in where you might go?
Yeah, I guess I’m interested in going somewhere because it has some kind of attraction for me, and that attraction is probably more than just purely tourism, it’s something kind of deeper.

I remember I went on a road trip in the southwest of the States after I made Beneath Clouds back in 2003 or four, and I stumbled across this little town near Area 51 in Nevada and I just thought “wow, I’ve got to make a film here”. That ended up being Dreamland … I think as a writer, as a director – or maybe just an artist – everything’s just connected, you know … You can’t separate the artist from the normal human being who wants to go on holidays [laughs].

And so Loveland is a futuristic story and setting, what drew you to science fiction?
I think sci-fi is a very special genre, because it allows us to give an expression of where we may go in the future as human beings on the planet, or even in the universe. Because it’s in the future, there are no restrictions there, really.

I think it’s kind of the ultimate creative genre because you have a blank canvas … To a certain extent, I had to create this futuristic Hong Kong. Although I really based it on the textures of the real place, I still had to create and ambience of the world of Loveland and it think that’s an attractive thing as a filmmaker.

The film features Ryan Kwanten and Hugo Weaving, who both starred in Mystery Road – what was it about these actors that made them perfect for Loveland?
It’s a funny thing you say “what makes them perfect”, because sometimes you actually write roles for specific actors and you can’t get more perfect than that, really. [laughs]. I wrote Hugo Weaving’s character, Doctor Bergman, specifically for him and when he agreed to do it, it was a relief because I couldn’t see anyone else play that role. I kind of said “I can’t make this film without you, I wrote this character for you!” [laughs].

With Ryan, I first mentioned this film to him back in 2012 when we were shooting Mystery Road, and he was very interested in it. The screenplay wasn’t finished at that point, but I made that connection with Ryan a very long time ago, so when he read the script years alter, he was very keen to accept the role and to explore the film.

There's so much that goes on in the film industry, and it's just so refreshing to have people like Ryan, Hugo, and also Jillian – they're just there for it, you know, they're there to make the art ... It's definitely not about the money, it's coming together and trying to create something, and possibly a little bit of change in the world in some way.

It kicks off the Deckie season, and you’ll be in town to join us under the stars. How does it feel to have your film screened at the home of Territory cinema?
It’s just exciting to get up there – I’ve never actually been there before. I’m just looking forward to being up there on Larrakia Country and getting the film out!

Loveland – Deckchair Cinema Opening Night
COST $17 | $13 CONC | $10 MEMB

Thumbnail, header & inset: Ivan Sen on set with actor Ryan Kwanten

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