Bronte actor Anya Beyersdorf has taken on what she describes as the most intelligent and provocative role of her career in a film she promises will blow people’s minds.
She plays sex worker Angie in John Winter’s directorial debut, Black & White & Sex which will have its world premiere during the Sydney Film Festival from June 8 to 19.
To be more accurate, she is playing an aspect of Angie’s personality with eight actresses playing different facets of the same character.
Beyersdorf was immediately struck by John Winter’s screenplay which she describes as “very intelligent”. The winner of the 2008 Marten Bequest Prize for Acting had just returned from Berlin where she had worked with Bulgarian director Dimiter Gotscheff on the epic theatre work, The Powderkeg.
“I’d just got back and received this script which was risky and bolshie. I thought doing a two-hander as a feature was interesting – and on top of that, to shoot it completely in black and white,” she said.
The other seven actresses playing Angie are Katherine Hicks, Valerie Bader, Roxane Wilson, Michelle Vergara Moore, Dina Panozzo, Saskia Burmeister and Maia Thomas. The other character, known as “the interviewer” (played by Matthew Holmes), is seen only in silhouette.
Beyersdorf described the transitions from one Angie to another as “seamless”.
“Each Angie is completely engrossing, pays the interviewer a little visit, turns his world upside down and then moves on,” she said.
“The interviewer has set up this space to make a documentary and has very strong preconceptions about what he’ll get. But he never reckoned on a wild cat like Angie who turns all his assumptions on their head with a bang. She’s an intelligent character who is not at all apologetic about who she is.”
Beyersdorf didn’t mind sharing the lead but said she thought she’d better step up to the plate when she saw the impressive cast list.
“It is such a strong female lead and every actress in the role delivers an incredible performance,” she said. “It’s such a gutsy movie to do. We all loved and trusted John. We could see how he was treating this character with a lot of respect and love.
“And I really liked my character. She’s the most reactionary of all the Angies and the angriest, with a chip on her shoulder. She’s a punky girl with a lot of attitude, very bolshie; very street smart. He’s sitting there trying to judge her and she gives him a walloping.
“I saw the film the other day and it’s devastatingly intelligent and funny, with touchy subject matter handled very sharply and with a lot of humour. This is one of the most intelligent films I’ve seen or been in so I was very grateful to be included in the project. There’s a lot of risky, intelligent films in this year’s festival. The quality of the programming is very high.”
Winter described Beyersdorf’s performance as “extraordinary”: “She gave a raw and honest performance and was always so much in the moment. Her Angie was sometimes confronting but always engaging.”
For the full Sydney Film Festival program visit www.sff.org.au