Twelve year old Greg has inherited his father’s competitive streak. On a family holiday to Fiji they have different ideas about where Greg should focus his talents. When his creative pursuits fail to amuse his father, Greg sets out to win him back. Based on a true story.
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FRANSWA SHARL is a story about a twelve-year-old boy who, on holidays with two families in Fiji reinvents himself as a French girl so he can enter the Miss Fiji beauty contest – much to his father’s dismay. This film is based on a true story and explores themes of identity, parental- child struggle and emerging sexuality. This story is framed in the foreign but colourful landscape of a Fijian resort in 1980.The inspiration for the film came from a documentary I made about a gay marriage in South Africa. While interviewing Greg Logan’s family, the story of his childhood reinvention as Miss Fiji emerged. At the time he was focussed on the revelation of his marriage to his family through the documentary, but I kept on his case until he agreed to work with me to develop a fictionalised account of his experience into a short drama script. I was captured by the charismatic and vibrant nature of the film’s lead character and the magical world of an exotic environment. I knew this would make a great short film!The focus of the story is the father son relationship. How does Mal Logan – the quintessential alpha male, obsessed with sport and competition deal with his son who prefers to sing, dance, play the ukulele and cross dress! In terms of the portrayal of Greg’s sexuality, Mal hasn’t yet formed an opinion around this, however he is uneasy about Greg’s behaviour. For Greg – a true individual – it is more about finding an activity that he is good at and getting his fathers approval. He has inherited his father’s competitive streak and the irony lies in the fact that he channels this into ventures his father doesn’t necessarily approve of, in this case donning a red bikini for the Miss Fiji beauty contest. The issue around Greg’s sexuality while raised in this film, is purposefully not answered. It is part of my approach as a filmmaker to raise questions rather than provide answers and it was important to me that I did not put a label on Greg’s sexuality.Whilst Greg is not without his struggles it was crucial to me that he was not portrayed as a victim because of his desire to enter a beauty contest and his father’s fear around this. In fact, Greg is a character who gets by on charm and wit. It is not himself but rather other people that have a problem with his burgeoning sexuality – his father in that he encourages him to participate in more masculine activities, and Cassie because she has a crush on Greg and wants him to respond to her sexual overtones. In this way it is my intention that FRANSWA SHARL inverts the stereotypes of representations of emerging sexual identity and avoids the tendency in films that explore similar issues, to milk the story for pathos and weighty social commentary.The families in FRANSWA SHARL are middle class people living the Australian dream of the 1980’s. Mal is a businessman and his annual Easter trip to Fiji with his young family is a symbol of success in this era. The fact that this year the Logan’s are able to invite their friends the Bishop’s further enhances their status. The Australian colloquialisms exchanged between Mal and Mike are a language they have developed as old mates. I grew up in Balmain where there was tendency for the middle class to adopt the language of the working class and infiltrate it into their everyday speak. This is typical to an Australian attitude towards friendship, where it is important not to appear superior to your mates. This story appealed to me because it was warm funny and real. I had made a lot of dark themed high drama short films and was very keen to make a film that was tonally light- hearted and entertaining but which also had an emotional depth to it. I knew that this would be a challenge but I felt that this was the perfect story to put to the test. FRANSWA SHARL has a fairytale feel to it. Although the darker side to the story relies on the underlying conflict of parental-child relations that to add to the tension and texture of the story, overall the mood of this film is uplifting and one that ends on a winning note.