Documentary follows two young backpackers who go to work pulling pints at the solitary pub in the Australian mining town of Coolgardie. As live-in barmaids (described as "fresh meat"), Lina and Steph are a long way from their Finland home, and their Outback experience isn't the sort you'll find on a postcard... ... More
"Fresh off a plane from Bali, in need of cash after being robbed and drawn to the idea of having an authentic outback adventure, Finnish backpackers Lina and Steph agree to live and work as servers in remote Coolgardie. Somewhere between the world's most isolated city and Australia's largest gold pit lies this small town that feminism forgot. Billed as "fresh meat" even before their first shift, the young women are treated to a rude cultural awakening. Bullied and ridiculed by their new boss, disrespected and insulted by the booze-goggled customers, the pair immediately discover they'll need to conform to repellent gender roles and social mores to survive among these Aussies. As uncomfortable as it is essential, Hotel Coolgardie bears witness to a hot-button issue that, in an era of pay equity and gender equality, demands to be addressed. Sexual harassment in the workplace is alive and well." (Hot Docs)Hide
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BY Alex Casey Flicks Writer
On my way to the cinema, a man stopped and yelled across the Britomart escalators that I should “lighten up, princess”. I bring this up because, as humiliating as those experiences are, it was a depressingly fitting hors d'oeuvre for the sloppy pub meal of sexism that Hotel Coolgardie would later serve up.... More
Brave Finnish backpackers Stephie and Lina are the latest victims to step into the role of barmaid aka “fresh meat” in the only pub in Coolgardie, a remote outback mining town with severe Wolf Creek vibes. What transpires, captured unflinchingly by director and cinematographer Pete Gleeson‘s observational camera, is a nuanced portrait of power, gender and crushing small town sadness.
Whether it’s through the ongoing competition to see who can root the women first, bulldog man Pikey refusing to leave Lina’s room, or barflies giggling at the women being constantly derided, Hotel Coolgardie skillfully peels back layers of sexism all the way to the rotten core. There are moments of levity - and a lot of heart in form of a toothless gentle giant named Can Man - but through the chuckles remains a looming threat that all women will be familiar with.
For something soaked in XXXX beer, Hotel Coolgardie is absolutely sobering, absolutely skin-crawling and absolutely necessary viewing. It gives concrete examples to the abstract ick that women have to carry around with them all day and, given the blokey Aussie context, has tons of potential to reach far beyond the echo chamber.
Many films attempt the lofty cliche of “holding up a mirror”, but this is one that might actually change what we choose to reflect back.Hide