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Film Screening: Sumatra
5th November 2017 @ 2:00 pm - 2:10 pm
Duration: 10 minutes
Directors: MATT GARRICK, MARK ROY
Frank Sumatra is chasing the dream, crooning his way around the downbeat nightclubs of Darwin in his trademark sharp suit and fedora. But the town’s barflies are too bombed-out and beleaguered to get it on with Sumatra’s smooth brand of sophisticated jazz, and his fortunes are steadily taking a turn for the worse. Still angling for a shot at the big time, Sumatra is unwittingly drawn further and further into a dark world of half-empty bars, coconut daiquiris and sodden violence.
A sole backing musician at his side – a diminutive girl who gamely wrestles an enormous upright bass – Sumatra croons his way through sad love songs from his homeland, as he smokes and caresses the chromium mic. Patrons sip their cocktails in a losing battle against the oppressive heat of the build-up.
Sitting slumped against the bar after a particularly desultory gig, Sumatra is intrigued to meet Peaches, a bubbly barmaid who, it seems, is pursuing a more lucrative sideline. Sumatra takes a shine to her, and with a wink, Peaches slips him a matchbook with her phone number, along with the persuasive suggestion to “Pamper yourself with Peaches”.
But Sumatra doesn’t know Peaches is the property of his promoter, Larry ‘Buffalo’ Fields. With violent and vulgar tastes, and a temper on a short fuse, Larry is one hell of a territorial tyrant, who soon takes a dislike to Peaches’ clandestine affairs.
Checking into his motel, Sumatra gets a short, sharp letter from Larry, who underpays him for the gig. Sweating under the circling shadow of the ceiling fan, Sumatra tosses the letter aside, reaching instead for the matchbook to call Peaches. While on the phone he discovers the winsome blonde is at the same motel. Peering out his window, Sumatra sees her silhouette in the room across the courtyard. It’s time to boogie. With a spring in his step, and a couple of SP Lagers under his arm, Sumatra heads out past the motel pool to pay Peaches an after-hours visit.
But his sense of anticipation is cut short when a menacing, backlit figure appears in Peaches’ room. Ducking behind the bushes, Sumatra witnesses a sudden and brutal attack as Peaches is grabbed around the throat and pulled down out of sight. A shadowy figure emerges and begins to run just as Sumatra drops one of his bottles of beer. The mystery man stops, looks around, and then bolts. Unsure if he’s been seen or recognised, Sumatratakes up a stealthy chase through the back alleys of the motel. From the bushes behind the motel fence, Sumatra sees Peaches’ assailant jump into a car, his face in shadow. and catches a glimpse of the garish rings his hands as he accelerates away.
Sumatra returns to Peaches’ room to find her lifeless on the floor. Traumatised, he backs out of the doorway, his hands shaking as he tries to light a cigarette. But the match from Peaches’ calling card is bent and broken. Staring, Sumatra slumps to the ground.
The next night at the bar, the same old crowd are boozing their way towards another rum sunrise. With his impassive bass player at his side, Sumatracroons his heart out, singing with real feeling about lost love. But Sumatra is sweaty and nervous. Slumped at the bar after the show, he seems still in shock. Larry suddenly appears, snatching Sumatra’s fedora from his head and setting it on his own. In an ostentatious display, he throws down a big pile of notes in front of Sumatra, muttering “You did good tonight, mate” in a threatening tone. He then drops one of Peaches matchbooks down on the cash, and looks up. The two men lock eyes. Hesitantly, Sumatra reaches out to take the stash. Larry slams his hand down hard on top of Sumatra’s, saying “Real good”. Sumatra sees Larry’s fingers bear same rings as the murderer.
Has Sumatra hit the big time – or is he on a fast track to a shallow grave?