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13-years since the Western Sydney crime thriller The Combination was banned from cinema screens for its gritty portrayal of the Lebanese-Australian experience, and now Pacific Islander community have a gangster movie of their own.
After months of teasers, the instant cult classic ‘Neverland’ has this week been made available online – without any help from the detached inner-city gatekeepers at Screen Australia.
The film is set in the rolling fibro plains of the area and follows a week in the life of small time gangsters who find themselves in a whole lot of trouble. With seven days to pay back a dangerous drug-dealer, three young Pasifika men take up a job from a local crime lord in order to set things straight.
Overnight the movie has been met with a standing ovation from Islander households around the country, who finally get their own moment in Australian film history. Neverland is to the Polynesian community what Two Hands is to white boys from the city, and what The Combination is to the Lebanese-Australians.
The fact that this was a self-funded production written, directed and casted by Islanders from Western Sydney is very clear from the first scene. Namely because the film seems to have a fairly accurate understanding of the hard knock low-socio-economic fabric of the city, and does not attempt to gloss over the fact that sometimes life is so tough that people have to take part in criminal activity to feed and protect themselves.
In line with the authentic luxury sportswear costuming, street lingo and fast cars – local hip-hop artists who play starring roles in this movie including: Masi Rooc, Bally Boy, Spanian, Hooligan Skinny, Youngn Lipz, Pistol Pete & Enzo and more.
It is probably no surprise to anyone that the Woolloomooloo icon Spanian plays a terrifying bad guy who doesn’t speak one word that isn’t pig latin.
Neverland also marks the first example of authentic Australian-Polynesian storytelling not including Chris Lilley in a curly wig, another clear indicator that the ABC was not involved in the production.