Whether it’s being exploited for its supposed creep factor, as in Kubrick’s The Shining and Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, or mined for comedy in films like The Parent Trap, the genetic coincidence that results in two people who look—but often don’t act—the same never seems to lose its fascination for filmmakers. Expanding on this tradition, Australian director Lucy Knox was drawn to exploring the relationship between identical twins—and the moment when one breaks off from the other in an attempt to forge a separate identity. Her stylish new short film An Act of Love, which she shot on grainy 16 mm, follows a pair of identical twins named May and June, whose encounter with a stranger at a roller rink disrupts their symbiotic relationship.
With An Act of Love premiering today on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck—where it is paired with another sibling-themed gem, Carlos Saura’s Cría cuervos . . ., in this week’s Tuesday’s Short + Feature—I spoke with Knox about the process of making the movie and other explorations of sisterhood that have influenced her.
Tell me a little bit about your journey to becoming a filmmaker.
My parents are divorced, and when I was growing up my dad would pick me up from school twice a week. It’s one of those moments when you want to spend time together, but besides eating a meal there’s not a lot to do. So we went to the movies twice a week starting from when I was ten, for about a decade. It was a ritual. The cinema closest to my house played a lot of independent cinema; I think that was really where the love of it all began.
What was the process of casting and working with the twin sisters like?
This was their first time acting on-screen. We auditioned around twenty pairs of twins, and Rachael and Rebekah [Awonusi] were just so mature for their age. They came in and talked about the script in a thoughtful way that was different from most of the other teenagers. When we auditioned them, it was pretty clear they were comfortable on camera, and were really talented improvisers. They knew how to play vulnerability and emotions with a mature subtlety. We talked about the characters and the script in rehearsal, and they made a few changes to it based on what they thought their characters would do.
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