Rachel Barber’s father calls for ‘I Am You’ cinema release

Director Simone North on set with Miranda Otto, who played Elizabeth Barber. The real Elizabeth and Mike Barber are in the background.

Director Simone North on set with Miranda Otto, who played Elizabeth Barber. The real Elizabeth and Mike Barber are in the background.

The father of murder victim Rachel Barber has implored Australian distributors to release the film which tells her story, I Am You, which was completed five years ago.

The $7.5 million film was shot in Queensland and starred Guy Pearce, Miranda Otto and Sam Neill. However, a dispute erupted in 2009 between the filmmakers (director Simone North and producer Tony Cavanaugh), and international distributor, Reliant Pictures International, about the final cut of the movie. Australia and New Zealand distributor Icon Films also chose not to release the film in cinemas.

Michael Barber, posting on the film’s Facebook page, said he was buoyed by people who had left messages of support.

“This is also one of the many reasons why we should all get behind making sure I Am You gets distributed in Australian cinemas,” he said. “Sure, it has been released in some countries as a ‘limited release’ or on Sky TV, or DVD, but sorry this is not enough. Distributors need to be aware of the great impact this film, I Am You, has had on those who have seen it.

“The film was also nominated for Best Actress and Best Cinematography awards at the 2011 Milan International Film Festival winning the Best Actress award for Ruth Bradley’s portrayal of Caroline Reed Robinson – so why is this not being used in its distribution?”

A number of sources have said the film deviated from the original concept and became less a thriller and more of an emotional journey told through the eyes of the parents.

However, Barber supported North’s writing and directing, saying she had done an “incredible job of weaving all the facets of what actually happened, and in most cases word for word, and has managed to eerily have Rachel’s essence throughout the whole film”.

I Am You (which was previously called In Her Skin and How to Change in 9 Weeks) included a substantial $3.02 million investment from the Film Finance Corporation (since merged into Screen Australia) as well as production funding from Screen Queensland (then operating as the Pacific Film and Television Commission).

The film is based on the true story of 15-year-old student, Rachel Barber, who went missing in Melbourne in 1999 before being found murdered by Caroline Reid.

MESSAGE FROM MICHAEL BARBER:

Hi Everyone,

I am Rachel’s father Mike and, on behalf of my family, I would like to thank those of you who have left kind thoughts and support for us. It is a comfort to know Rachel’s presence will not be dismissed or forgotten. This is also one of the many reasons why we should all get behind making sure “I Am You” gets distributed in Australian cinemas. Sure it has been released in some countries as a “limited release” or on Sky TV, or DVD, but sorry this is not enough. Distributors need to be aware of the great impact this film ‘I Am You’ has had on those who have seen it. The film was also nominated for Best Actress and Best Cinematography awards at the 2011 Milan International Film Festival winning The Best Actress award for Ruth Bradley’s portrayal of Caroline Reed Robinson, so why is this not being used in its distribution.

In the writing and directing of “I Am You” Simone North has done an incredible job of weaving all the facets of what actually happened, and in most cases word for word, and has managed to eerily have Rachel’s essence throughout the whole film. She has also delved quite deeply into the internal and family struggles of Caroline. It has been a long time since we were first approached by Simone and Tony with regards to the making of the film. We were apprehensive and still traumatised by Rachel’s murder. We were both suffering post traumatic stress and our other two children were going through struggles of their own, plus Elizabeth had co-authored, with Megan Norris, “Perfect Victim” reliving in great detail our search for Rachel and the discovery of her murder, so probably the last thing we needed to be doing was getting involved in a film. But we did so in the hope something positive would come from it. The film points out quite clearly what a tragic and confused person Caroline was, not only at the time of Rachel’s murder, but also for many years before. The danger signs, in her case, were for the best part ignored with unfortunate dire consequences; totally needless. Had Caroline been given the help she so obviously needed and was screaming out for perhaps Rachel would still be with us today and two families lives would have been entirely different. If ‘I Am You’ can, in some small way, help society take a long and hard look at itself and to become more aware of the dangers out there (and it is my belief it does) then we all need to get behind it. Please be assured we have been involved in the making of this film from the beginning, and although horrid to witness, the necessity for the detail in the murder scene.

Thank you one again to you all.

Kind Regards
Mike Barber