Film & TV

Interview: George Basha: new Aussie film, Convict

Actor/Director/Writer George Basha (foreground) with Frank Violi (background) in a scene from Convict

Actor/Director/Writer George Basha talks about his new hard-hitting prison drama, Convict, opening in Adelaide on 28 February 2014.Actor/Director/Writer George Basha talks about his new hard-hitting prison drama, Convict

 

Actor/Director/Writer George Basha (foreground) with Frank Violi (background) in a scene from Convict

Actor/Director/Writer George Basha (foreground) with Frank Violi (background) in a scene from Convict

George Basha, the writer, director and star of the new Australian film Convict , describes it as “gritty and so real”.  It’s a snapshot of the multi-layered social and cultural kaleidoscope that is Australia, using Parramatta prison as a microcosm of broader society.

Convict is the second collaboration for directors George Basha and David Field (known for their on-screen performances in Black Rock, and The Combination, as well as Chopper and Two Hands respectively). The duo are once again shedding light on the confronting world of crime and racism in Australia after their earlier success with the 2009 film, The Combination.

Basha explains his character, Ray, is an SAS soldier who returns from Iraq “to give away his army life and give his life to his love”. Ray finds himself in maximum security at Parramatta Gaol for 18 months after a situation turns out of his control on the streets.

“It becomes a battle in there because you don’t know where the next shank is going to come from or who to trust,” he says.

Ray’s intention to keep a low profile is thwarted by the social and institutionalised forces of the prison, making for an intricate and fascinating story of racism, friendship and survival.

“He is being targeted by the internal politics of the warden and officers, but also the Arab, Aboriginal and white gangs. He just wants to do his time and keep a promise he’s made to his missus.”

Courageously exploring the dark side of Australian culture is important to Basha and it is something he has become well known for in film-making.

“I enjoy these stories because they are real,” explains Basha. “What I try to do in my films is bring the nationalities together because I think that’s what Australia is… we are multicultural and we need to share this on our screens.”

After many years of research, Basha believes the human condition is the same underneath our skins.

“The truth is we all think alike. This is a human story and when anyone watches it, it doesn’t matter what colour or race, they will relate to it.”

Feedback from screenings in the Eastern states is that Convict resonates with a female audience, which surprised and delighted Basha.

“I thought we were going to attract 18-30 year old males, but we are hearing that females are getting emotionally attached in the film and love it. Getting that kind of emotional reaction is very hard and so we are proud to have achieved this.”

Hand-picking the cast of both seasoned and new Australian actors, Basha explains the acting is vicious, at times harrowing, but in all cases, exceptional.

“The performances in this film are great and those who have seen it are saying Richard Green (Snowtown, Boxing Day), Frank Violi (Oyster Farmer; Blue Murder) and David Roberts (The Matrix) in particular have been A +.”

Basha is delighted to be working with Field both on and off screen to create Convict.

“This is the second film we have made together, but this is the first time we have acted alongside each other in the same scenes.”

Both critics and the general public agree, the contrast and hypocrisy between the morally-grounded Ray (Basha) and the corrupt, power hungry Warden (Field) makes for tantalising viewing. Convict will challenge you morally and emotionally and will “take the audience to a place they have never been.”  It’s hard-hitting Australian film making at its finest.

Convict premieres in Adelaide on Friday, 28 February at the Capri Theatre.

Interview by Bree Downs-Woolley

Disclaimer: Rated MA15+.

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