WING­ING IT WITH EMO­TION

The film­ing of the off­beat Heal­ing had Don Hany and Hugo Weav­ing cap­ti­vated by the work’s pow­er­ful star, the wedge-tailed ea­gle

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY MOVIES - CARIS BIZZACA

Don Hany says his new film Heal­ing is more like a bro­mance than your typ­i­cal prison movie. Best known for his TV work in East West 101 and Off­spring, Hany stars along­side Hugo Weav­ing in the new Aussie film as Vik­tor Kha­dem, an Ira­nian man serv­ing an 18-year prison sen­tence for mur­der.

In­spired by true events, Vik­tor is moved to a min­i­mum­se­cu­rity prison called Won Wron for the fi­nal 12 months of his sen­tence, to help pre­pare him for life on the out­side.

It’s there Se­nior Of­fi­cer Matt Perry (Weav­ing) puts Vik­tor in charge of a unique bird pro­gram.

With two other in­mates (played by Xavier Sa­muel and Mark Win­ter), Vik­tor is re­spon­si­ble for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of in­jured owls, fal­cons and one fear­some wedge-tailed ea­gle, Yas­min.

From day one, Hany be­gan work­ing with the three wed­getailed ea­gles who would star as Yas­min, learn­ing to hold them, and feed them, and al­low­ing the birds to ac­cept him as part of the fur­ni­ture.

Hany said the ea­gles were a big part of the role’s at­trac­tion.

“I knew the pres­sure was off as an ac­tor, ’cause when you’re in a scene with one of those, no one’s look­ing at you,” he said, laugh­ing.

“(Also) it’s im­pos­si­ble to take your at­ten­tion off them, so it’s like you’re forced into a be­hav­iour that makes you look very com­fort­able with what you’re do­ing, but you’re ac­tu­ally defe­cat­ing in­side.”

Weav­ing said watch­ing Hany work with the ea­gles was in­cred­i­ble, par­tic­u­larly on the last day of the shoot.

In fad­ing light, Hany called one of the birds, which lined him up from 75m out, be­fore swoop­ing in to land on his arm.

“It’s an ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic piece of work from Don, who re­ally worked a lot with them. I just pre­tended I knew all about them,” he said, adding he dealt with the ea­gles’ smaller cousins.

“I got the fluffy, lit­tle chirpy, lit­tle Boo­book owls – the ones I could han­dle.”

The birds play a big part in Heal­ing, but writer and di­rec­tor Craig Mon­a­han also shows how the pris­on­ers and Perry form an off­beat sur­ro­gate fam­ily at Won Wron Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre.

Hany said their re­la­tion­ships ex­plored the pain men ex­pe­ri­enced ex­press­ing feel­ings such as love and loss.

“So the­mat­i­cally, de­spite the fact it’s set in a jail and it’s blokes and it’s about loy­alty and brother­hood and there’s a strong fa­ther-son theme, it’s ac­tu­ally like a bro­mance.

“In the land­scape of films and gen­res, I think this one fits into warm, runny, feel-good chick flick, which runs at odds to the way it’s been mar­keted as a prison film, with the ex­pec­ta­tion you’re go­ing to see some manoa-mano, hard and fast vi­o­lence.”

It’s not the only way Heal­ing isn’t your aver­age prison movie. You’re more likely to see veg­etable gar­dens or cook­ing classes at Won Wron than watch tow­ers and barbed wire.

Weav­ing said: “There are no boundary fences. If they want to run away they can, but they’ll be picked up and put back into medium-se­cu­rity so they don’t.”

He said low-se­cu­rity jails en­cour­aged pris­on­ers to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for them­selves, one rea­son Heal­ing caught his at­ten­tion.

“(And) the whole thing comes from a true story and that re­ally in­ter­ested me,” he said.

“The sense of heal­ing, of get­ting wounded in­mates to heal wounded rap­tors and re­lease them be­fore they’re be­ing re­leased them­selves.”

Heal­ing opens in cin­e­mas to­day.

Don Hany in the film Heal­ing

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