BLACKTOWN Director: Kriv Stenders 2005 COLOUR 91 MIN. Book cinema tickets Thanks to a charismatic central performance by non-professional Tony Ryan, this working-class love story turns into a real heart-warmer that overcomes its budgetary and technical limitations. The film is independent director Kriv Stenders’ second offering this year (following The Illustrated Family Doctor) and marks him out as a maverick talent to watch. Tony (Ryan), a recovering alcoholic living in the eponymous Sydney suburb of Blacktown, becomes a white knight for thirtysomething Nikki (Niki Owen) when her date goes violently awry. Echoing John Cassavetes’ 1971 film Minnie and Moskowitz, true love blooms, with Tony’s honesty helping to clear the debris of Nikki’s forlorn life. Improvised from a script outline based on the leading actors’ real-life experiences, the film runs on without running out of charm, mainly provided by Ryan’s powerful performance. Stenders has fashioned a very raw story in which emotional connections overcome the constructed barriers of cultural and social differences. A film of startling honesty and authenticity. Short film beforehand: THE SAVIOUR (Dir: Peter Templeman. 2005. 19 min.) Director: Kriv Stenders 2005 COLOUR 91 MIN.