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Tangles and Knots

East Coast Premiere

Director: Renée Petropoulos

Australia, 2018, 16 min

Festival Year:2019

Category:Narrative Short

Cast:Leeanna Walsman, Odessa Young, Mitzi Rulhmann, Toby Wallace, Govinda Röser-Finch, Bryn Chapman Parish

Crew:Writers: Renée Marie Petropoulos - Producers: Janet Brown, Yingna Lu - Co-Producer: Kristin Frost - Associate Producer: Melina Maraki - Casting Director: Stevie Ray, CGA - Director of Photography: Zoë White - Production Design: Diva Abrahamian - Editor: Chelsea Taylor, Renée Marie Petropoulos - Sound Designer: Eli Cohn


A intimate bond between mother and daughter becomes threatened when the mother helps her teenage daughter throw a house party to impress new, more popular friends.


About the director

Renée Marie Petropoulos is an award winning filmmaker from Sydney, Australia. Her latest short film, Tangles and Knots (2018), premiered at the Berlinale 2018: Generation 14Plus competition, followed by screenings at SXSW 2018, Palm Springs International Shortfest 2018, Melbourne International Film Festival 2018 and many more renowned festivals worldwide. The film was also nominated for the 2018 AACTA Award for Best Short Fiction Film and won the Canon Award for Best Direction at Flickerfest 2019. Since receiving her MFA in Directing at Columbia University, Renée has continued to push her cinematic practices, with a particular focus on female-driven stories.


Filmmaker's note

TANGLES AND KNOTS is a project shaped by themes that have consistently marked my work: female sexuality, ageing and the fluidity of family roles. But be­yond these themes, the film is extremely personal: drawing primarily from my own unconventional relationship with my mother. As a writer, my work is predominantly generated from personal experiences and this project was no exception. Just like Michelle and Laura, we acted more like girlfriends than mother and child. We would share everything and anything together. As a writer, this relationship is the core of the film: it is a toxic dependency between Mother and Daughter that is uncomfortable, intimate but also poignant. I wanted to convey a this unique bond in all its complexity. it is a kaleidoscope of emotions that is constantly in flux: from deep affection to seething hatred, from pride to jealousy, from adoration to shame.

With this intricate bond at the core of the film, I could excavate more profound themes and ideas. As Michelle and Laura’s relationship unravels throughout the night, the ultimate result of the tumultuous evening is much more sinister: raising questions about female sexuality, male privilege and the universal threat of sexual violence felt by all women. It is a threat that can emerge from any unintended gesture: the sharing a cigarette, touching another’s arm, a complement, a glance. These gestures should not be open invitations.

Ultimately, I have always been drawn to female-driven stories, particularly writing characters that flawed: they are selfish, impulsive and ultimately human. As a Director, I strive for an uncomfortable intimacy with all of my characters that feels truthful and not overly stylized, especially when dealing with such tender subject matter as sexual assault. Through camerawork that is uncomfortably intimate the viewer is confronted with every minuscule behaviour of both Laura and Michelle but also their proximity to others: their place trapped within the group, their place outside of it. With an accumulation of small, painful moments in TANGLES AND KNOTS, I hope to lead the audience to dive deeper and deeper with these characters until they reach the point of no return.

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