Above, One Less God director Liam Worthington, DWF’s Leslee Scallon far right
As Dances with Films co-founder Leslee Scallon likes to say, all the films at the festival deserve a “5” – the highest audience rating score on festival ballots. All the same, not every film can win top accolades.
One Less God, an ensemble film inspired by the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, took both Grand Jury Award and Industry Choice Award. The tense and heartbreaking film includes points of view within a group of hostages and from the terrorists.
Liam Worthington, writer/director of the project explains what drew him to the subject.
“I have always had a special affinity for India, having travelled there when I was young. Then when the 26/11 attacks took place, co-producer Nelson Lau and I both had friends who lost people close to them, so we felt a very strong personal connection, and the overwhelming tragedy and sheer audacity of the attacks awoke a deep desire to understand. The news cycle was all about the specifics of what had happened, but what I really wanted to know was why. I wanted to get to the heart of the tragedy, and beyond it, to the people on both ends of the gun. And now the questions we began exploring nearly a decade ago, have sadly only deepened and become even more important and relevant than ever. “
Worthington’s initial training was as an actor. He began writing and directing for the theatre and the circus.
“I founded a theatre company with some other actors and began creating shows and workshops around youth suicide prevention working with mental health organizations in Australia, and also touring. I received grants to run circus workshops for street kids and young offender groups before I had my first opportunity to cross over into film,” the Australian director relates.
“Over the course of a year I was commissioned to work with a group of young people suffering from psychosis, and together we made a 40 minute Star Wars fan film.
Since then its been a pretty typical road of lots of study, shorts, music videos, POC’s and I’ve written, directed, DP’d, edited, VFX’d and belatedly produced.”
While he says he had not previously aspired to produce features, after several projects fell by the wayside following years of development, he decided to make sure the next film could live or die based only on his own decision. That film was One Less God.
“It’s been an enormous amount of work, but I needed to take my dreams out of other peoples hands. So I committed to gathering my resources, cash in on my good will,
and produce One Less God at all costs, and I was very fortunate to also be able to enlist the help of a team of other great producers.”
The suspenseful, harrowing, and beautifully wrought film is packed with meaning. But asked what he most wants audiences to know about it, Williamson says “I wanted to craft a story that would be a genuine movement towards greater humanism and compassion. One that might aspire to promote healthy discussion afterwards, as opposed to the discourse that takes place in the emotionally charged wake of an actual terrorist attack, and rarely achieves anything except to heighten fear and increase the polarization.”
The director notes that “This film was made by people of many different faiths: Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jews, Buddhists and those of no faith as well. I think together we have made a deeply humanist film that also shrinks from nothing, and I think that is vital right now in this divisive political climate. On first glance One Less God may appear to be a film about terrorism, but in truth ,that is just the framing we use to explore our shared humanity, the value of life, and what separates us from love.”
– Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke