A teenage lesbian romance opening the venerable Sydney Film Festival?
The visiting English actresses Natalie Press and Emily Blunt concede that it sounds unlikely. “I’m sure it sounds steamy,” said the 23-year-old Press with a giggle about My Summer of Love, which has launched the careers of two little-known actresses after its success in Britain.
“It’s a dark and poetic film as well. It’s humorous. It has everything. It’s ambiguous and you can’t quite sort of stamp anything on it.”
Opening a film festival on the other side of the world sounded even more unlikely when they were shooting the coming-of-age drama without a conventional script in the wilds of the Yorkshire moors.
They play two opposites – one posh, the other working class – drawn together one summer.
But the two actresses, cast after a long search for just the right combination of fresh faces, have now won several awards for promising new acting talent.
Directed by Polish-born Pawel Pawlikowski, My Summer of Love also won best British film at this year’s BAFTA awards ahead of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Vera Drake and Shaun of the Dead.
Co-starring Paddy Considine from 24 Hour Party People and In America, the film involved the actresses in a physical as well as emotional romance.
Press found that a nervous business at times. “Jumping on top of her and shagging her like a guy [was a] nerve-racking thing because it was my idea and I was showing that to Pawel,” she said. “That was terrifying that he would say, ‘I don’t really like this.’ Kissing in the scene was not as terrifying as that.”
Working on the film forged a firm friendship. “We’ve got loads in common,” said Press.
Added Blunt: “We’re from the sort of background. And we were both desperate to make this film work and I think that bonded us immediately.
“We were complete strangers and we had to be really open … We were quite vulnerable in that way but at least we had each other.”
Far from the hardships of the film set, the actresses giggled at the thought of a pink diamond fitting before traipsing down the red carpet at the State Theatre tonight.
“Who would have known when we were on that moped out in the moors and falling down hills to get to the rockpools,” Blunt said.
“I mean it’s just bizarre … We had no idea the film would take off as it has.”