Twenty-one international students whose lives have been turned upside-down by COVID-19 have shared their stories in a new film called LIMBO.
Produced entirely online during lockdown, the moving work is one of 777 projects the City of Melbourne supported with quick-response grants to help artists keep creating during the pandemic.
LIMBO offers a unique glimpse into the lives of students from all over the world, showing them tell stories, sing, stare, sleep, laugh, cry, cook and cope amid isolation and uncertainty.
The film was made by Story Is Connection, a creative company that mobilises students to share authentic stories about living Australia, usually through in-person workshops and theatre performances.
Feifei Liao, Managing Director of Story Is Connection, said there are no auditions and no acting skills required – the group’s purpose is to build deep and meaningful connections and community.
‘This is such a challenging time. LIMBO provides a rare opportunity for international students to share their feelings and explore their experiences, so it has been a very special project for them,’ Feifei said.
‘We never tell participants what to share – it has to be organic. Whether we are working in-person or online, our process is about building community while we build content.’
Catherine Simmonds OAM, Artistic Director of Story Is Connection, came up with the concept for LIMBO after an in-person performance at the Lord Mayor’s Student Welcome was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Catherine and Media Director Irene Metter worked with each participant to film their stories using Zoom, and edited the clips into a moving digital journal to capture this unique period in history.
‘We usually run in-person workshops, so filming the students using Zoom was very different. For the first time, we were looking into people’s personal lives and private spaces,’ Feifei said.
‘Looking into these personal spaces opens up an opportunity for the students to be true, and it somehow brings intimacy so we can know them better.’
‘I feel very proud of LIMBO and our Story Is Connection team, being able to respond to international students’ feelings and inspire more people to step forward to be authentic and connect with each other with empathy and humanity.’
If you are an international student who would like to get involved with projects like this, Story Is Connection is running a free online storytelling workshop series in September and October. You can also keep in touch with the organisation on social media.
For more information about how the City of Melbourne supports creativity in our city, visit Arts Melbourne.