Noticias Festival

“I wanted to create an enchanted ode to friendship”

More information about Petrol and tickets


For me, ‘Petrol’ is a film about a young woman’s search of self, the strange line between self and others, the vulnerability of youth. At a time of change and discovery, when one readily loses oneself in other people, the delicate line between reality and imagination can become blurred. In her fascination with Mia, Eva loses the edges of her own perception and her world fills with ghosts and magic. Volatile friendships are perhaps particular to young people, but I think that the difficulty of knowing and getting close to others is a universal theme. There is an inherent limit to knowledge of reality, and this realisation gives way to a melancholy which lingers in the film

I wanted to portray the mysterious bond between Eva and Mia, two imaginative, idealistic and determined young women, who are very different and at the same time alike, at a time in their lives when they are open, vulnerable and uncertain. Working with the talented actresses Nathalie Morris and Hannah Lynch, who very much shaped their respective characters, I wanted to show a female relationship that is platonic but highly romantic in its own way, to create an enchanted ode to friendship.

It was important to me that both of them are artists, that they connect through their work and Mia becomes a sort of muse figure for Eva. It’s a ‘portrait of an artist as a young woman’, and the focus is not on achievement or reward but on the acquiring of knowledge of the world through looking and recording. Eva’s filmmaking is explored as a constant process that is finally left open-ended.

I began collecting ideas for Petrol while living in Melbourne share houses in my 20’s, inspired by my own friendships and observations. This ‘diaristic’ process has a lot to do with how the film turned out – a sort of personal collage of a time and a place, real and imagined all mixed together. But I think the slightly fragmented, impressionistic story-telling also says something about the fragmented world that the characters inhabit. There is Eva’s Russian ‘old-world’ – the migrant world with its nostalgia and the longing for things that can only exist as memory, mum’s interest in

Quantum Entanglement, dad’s quoting of the Gogol story of a disappearing peasantry, old Bella’s reading of coffee grinds. Yet Eva is drawn to Mia’s fractured world of the untethered ‘scene’ hanging about the inner-city, the world of fun and uncertainty, and perhaps a certain loneliness. The title Petrol places the story in the city and speaks of the volatility of contemporary life. And yet the characters all long for connection, even if it’s fraught. It’s the nature of longing that interests me the most.

One ought not to talk or act as if he were asleep,” writes Heraclitus, “We share a world when we are awake; each sleeper is in a world of his own.” For me, this sums up the journey Eva sets off on in the film. Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, one must finally learn to wake up to the

world, to themselves and to others, as they are. Mia and Eva share a moment of tenderness in the bar, the kinds of precious moments of connection that we seek, then go on their separate respective paths. Perhaps everything passes, but such shared experiences of friendship make for the confusing, messy, beguiling stuff of life, the stuff that makes us who we are.