Here Out West earns AACTA Awards nomination for best film

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Writer Nisrine Amine and her fellow scribes, actors and crew on Here Out West are stoked about its best-film nomination for the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards but not shocked about the recognition.

“I’d like to say surprising but it wasn’t,’’ former Parramatta schoolgirl Amine said.

“I knew from the moment we stepped into the writers’ room that whatever was happening in that room was going to be magical, it was going to be big.

“I remember Matias Bolla, one of the writers who wrote the Chilean chapter, we were at the Sydney Film Festival a few years prior, and we were standing in the foyer outside and we looked at each other and said ‘Our movie’s going to open this festival one day — just watch.

“So we kind of had very early visions of it being something big so when it did it was so super exciting but there was a knowing within me. We know this was going to happen because it was really special.’’

Here Out West is a low-budget drama that features eight mini stories that effortlessly combine and is spoken in nine languages including Arabic, which Amine grew up speaking along with English and French.

The 38 year old, who migrated to Sydney with her parents from Lebanon in 1988, penned the first chapter that follows a grandmother who kidnaps her granddaughter from hospital after authorities plan to take her because her young daughter was deemed unfit to raise a child.

Amine says eight writers were “free from ego”.

“Our producers, Annabel Davis and Sheila Jayadev, from the beginning, although they didn’t know quite what it would end up being, they had a very, very clear vision to honour the voices of the writers and they stuck to that vision the whole way through,’’ Amine said.

“They never faulted or deviated from that, and they had complete belief and support so us eight writers trusted them wholly.

“And because us eight writers didn’t know what it was going to be either, we just surrendered to the process and it was that lack of resistance.’’

The film earned nominations alongside Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis starring Tom Hanks, The Drover’s Wife, The Stranger, Three Thousand Years of Longing and Sissy.

Amine was oblivious when AACTA nominations were released but welcomed it as the “perfect way” to honour everyone’s contributions.

“You’re talking eight writers, five directors — this was a mammoth, mammoth group effort and so I think the best-film nomination is just the perfect way to wrap this journey up and the best way to wrap up the year and so we’re super pumped,” she said.

Amine founded the Parramatta Actors’ Centre with her brother George Amine and Laura Amine Miller and will move to Los Angeles next year to work on acting and writing.

“I think it’s very important for me to meet casting directors and to really scope out the film and TV world but theatre will always, always be one of my greatest passions,’’ she said.

“I think it’s very important for an actor to do both things (TV and film) because you don’t build your acting skills as much as when you’re working with a play and when you’re with a character for a sustained period of time, so if I can manage both then that will be the dream.’’

Amine knew from when she was a child she wanted to write and act.

“The opposite should have happened,’’ the Gladesville resident said.

“We came over (from Lebanon) and I was surrounded by family here and the majority of everyone I was surrounded by followed very traditional paths.

“I don’t know what it was; I think I just link it back to something innate in me; I’ve always loved performing and telling stories and because I was really supported in primary and high school, my teachers saw something in my I suppose so there was always an outlet for my creativity in the school setting.

“Outside the school there wasn’t necessarily acting classes that my parents knew about to take me to, it still very much felt like something people in the city and eastern suburbs to do, but I really owe everything to St Patrick’s Parramatta and OLMC Parramatta.’’

Amine became an English teacher and careers adviser at St John XXIII Catholic College (formerly St Marks) at Stanhope Gardens and Ava Maria College in Melbourne and is working on a “semi-autobiographical” stage show about a woman coming of age and considering whether to freeze her eggs.

The AACTA Awards will be held at The Hordern, on December 7.

Originally published as Here Out West earns AACTA Awards nomination for best film

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