5 April 2023

More than $2000 raised at sold-out film screening for Griffith women's refuge

| Oliver Jacques
Start the conversation
two women at film screening

Julia Puntoriero and Andrea Jordan at the screening of The Fort. Photo: Dom Puntoriero.

A sold-out screening of the domestic violence-themed film The Fort at Griffith City Cinemas on Wednesday (29 March) has raised more than $2000 for the town’s women’s refuge.

Family law solicitor Julia Puntoriero decided to host the event after meeting the film’s executive producer Shaynna Blaze, a celebrity interior designer and anti-domestic violence campaigner. Ms Blaze has helped organise screenings of her movie across the country to both spread awareness of the issue and raise funds for related causes.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Ms Puntoriero said. “We raised over $2000, which was amazing compared to the few hundred we thought we’d make.”

READ ALSO Snap! Griffith’s first photo shop marks 50th year

The Fort is about young mother Kitty, who lives in a constant state of stress due to her volatile and abusive husband Graham. Her son Tom erects a tent in his bedroom – which becomes a fort that transports his mother and him into a series of fantasy worlds that provide an escape from the hostilities they face at home.

Unlike other similarly themed films – such as Once Were Warriors and The Burning Bed – most of the abuse perpetrated by Graham in The Fort is not physical.

“The most important thing that people took away from the film was the various levels of violence,” Ms Puntoriero said.

”It wasn’t just the physical, it was the financial abuse and the coercive control – she can’t leave the house, as she doesn’t have access to a vehicle.”

It also showed how gaslighting works.

“When the woman has a breakdown, the father will lean into the children and say, ‘Look at your mum, she is crazy’ when actually, he’s driven her to that state,” Ms Puntoriero said.

“You also saw how much abuse he was subjected to as a child. While that’s not an excuse, it shows how hard it is to try and break that cycle. People revert to what they’ve been taught in times of stress.”

Two women at cinema

Davina Guidolin and Yvette Pastro before the film. Photo: Dom Puntoriero.

Teacher and attendee Abby Braithwaite described the film as an eye-opener.

“I found The Fort to be a very confronting and, at times, uncomfortable film to watch,” she said.

”I think it will be a film that stays with me for some time. Domestic violence is a topic we all need to be talking about with our friends and family, especially considering the horrendous statistics of women dying at the hands of their partners and ex-partners every week here in Australia.”

READ ALSO NRL legend Andrew Fifita returns to Griffith school to mentor students

More than 100 tickets were sold for the movie, with women making up about 95 per cent of attendees.

“I have a lot of friends that wanted to support the cause, which was great; however, ideally, it would have been more effective if at least half the cinema were men,” Ms Puntoriero said.

”There were lots of women there, but they’re not the ones that need to be enlightened on what goes on.”

After the screening, a raffle was held to raise more money. Wineries De Bortoli, Calabria and Yarran donated prizes, as did florist Le Fleur and Griffith Women in Business member Viv Forner.

Ms Puntoriero also thanked Griffith City Cinema manager Dominic Giorgi for his generosity.

“The money raised will go toward vouchers for food, clothes, fuel for women escaping violence as the refuge gets busier during the holidays,” she said.

”Often, they’re fleeing during the night. This ensures they’ll have money for what they need.”

Shaynna Blaze

Celebrity interior designer Shaynna Blaze was the executive producer of The Fort. Photo: Facebook.

The family law solicitor wants the screening to be just the beginning of community efforts on the topic.

“Let’s keep the conversation going, keep an eye on your girlfriends,” she said.

”If they’ve gone quiet, if they’re pushing you away, always let them know they are supported. Part of the coercive control is ruining relationships so people don’t have a choice, they can’t leave. Make sure you offer support when you can.”

If your workplace, school or council would like to arrange a screening of The Fort, you can contact the online platform Fan Force.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.