52 Tuesdays tells the story of 16-year-old Billie and her struggle with her mother’s decision to become a man. The teen goes to live with her biological father for a year, but vows to meet with her mother every Tuesday to spend time together. After already winning the Crystal Bear for Best Film from the youth jury at the Berlin Film Festival, and the World Cinema Dramatic Directing award at Sundance, this low-budget film from Adelaide is taking the world by storm.
One of the most original and fascinating aspects of the film is that it was both set and filmed every Tuesday for a year. Director Sophie Hyde explains, “It’s kind of a conceptual idea, and that was because we were going for this low-budget initiative. We wanted to come up with a concept that would work on a low budget better than if we had money. And then the characters kind of came secondary to that and they came about for many different reasons to do with the themes of the film, and the ideas of what we wanted to explore. And the story then came from them.”
52 Tuesdays is the first feature role for Tilda Cobham-Hervey, who was a teenager herself during production. It’s perhaps due to this, as well as the year-long shoot, that the actress truly connected with her character. “I think Billie shifted as a character a lot more through the year than maybe we all expected,” says Cobham-Hervey. “And I think when we first started filming I felt very different to the Billie that was written on the page. Then there was a point in the middle where there was a complete grey area between Billie and Tilly because we were both growing up at the same time. So I think a lot of scenes I did in the film I don’t believe I could have done at the beginning without having been in that world and grown up.”
Growing up is a major component of the film itself. In addition to the relationship Billie has with her mother Jane/James, there is a focus on the friendship and sexual relationship that she embarks on with the characters Jasmine and Josh. Hyde says it’s a matter of exploration.
“I would hope that people [in the audience] would think about their own life and if they’re living the way that they want to and whether they’re treating people the way they want to be treated,” she says. “In terms of teenagers and their parents, I feel really connected to some of the ideas about allowing a teenager to explore things, particularly in a safe environment. The three teenagers in the film are incredibly safe with each other and are exploring things in a very real way that’s not about anyone else’s expectations of them or the world that we often see sexually, such as pornography or the romanticised version of being a teenager in Hollywood films. I would hope that they would be part of a discussion about how we are able to live and how to talk to our teenagers about life.”
Cobham-Hervey agrees with the ideas of honesty and authenticity being paramount not only to the film, but to everybody’s lives. “It’s OK to talk about things, it’s OK to be messy, and it’s OK to screw up. Honesty, and the question, ‘Are you living an authentic life?’, which is asked in the film, are completely imperative to all things. I hope that people take that away from [the film] and make their own choices.”
52 Tuesdays will be in cinemas from Thursday May 1.