Three friends in a different suburbia

Issue 

Three friends in a different suburbia

On the Waves of the Adriatic
Directed by Brian McKenzie
Special screening at AFI cinema, Paddington, Sydney
April 11, 3 p.m.
Reviewed by Tracy Sorensen

Brian McKenzie's award-winning documentary, On the Waves of the Adriatic, follows five years in the lives of Graeme, Stephen and Harold, three friends who inhabit the lowest rung of society in suburban Brunswick.

They forage at the rubbish tip, negotiating poisonous snakes, and wheel their shopping home on dirty bikes. Stephen works in a factory packing rubber teats for babies' bottles. Harold lived at the tip until Graeme brought him home to live in the shed out the back. Graeme (pictured) dreams of owning a car. Despite their poverty and mild intellectual disabilities, the three carve out a caring refuge for themselves outside the mainstream.

McKenzie discovered the three at the Victorian State Library: "They had come in out of the weather all excited and giggling ... my curiosity got the better of me and I went to investigate". The film, says McKenzie, "is a record of a small part of these people's lives and I hope stands as a jarring rebuff to the portrait of suburbia with its ordered types and simplistic situations that our conventional cinema and television insists on trotting out". It does.

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