For 11 year old Mia the world of gymnastics is her safe-haven, but after noticing the development of an overly-close relationship between her teammate and her coach, she suspects foul play. With the help of her unfailing mood ring, Mia must decipher the truth of his intentions.

  • Rebecca Gauci
  • Rebecca Gauci
  • Belinda Unwin
  • Ivy Mutuku
  • Katherine Richardson
    Key Cast
  • Hannah McDonald
    Key Cast
  • Leah Baulch
    Key Cast
    In The Wake, Blue World Order, The Dinner Party
  • Matthew Connell
    Key Cast
    "Coach Dean"
    The Blake Mysteries: Ghost Stories, Ms Fisher's Modern Murder Mysteries, Preacher
  • Natalie Tynan
    Director of Photography
  • Anna Ly
  • Caitlin Tracey
    Production Designer
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 41 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 2, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    4,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, ARRI AMIRA
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Swinburne University of Technology
  • Setting Sun Film Festival
    February 11, 2021
    Official selection
  • Canberra Short Film Festival
    March 24, 2021
    Official Selection. Best Actor.
Director Biography - Rebecca Gauci

Rebecca Gauci is a filmmaker based in Melbourne, Australia. She recently completed a Bachelor of Film & Television (Honours) at Swinburne University of Technology and received the ARRI Australia 'Best Director' award at the 2019 Swinburne Industry Awards. Her drive to create ‘Special’ stems from a desire to make female-focussed stories that connect with audiences and explore current social issues. Learning gymnastics at a young age and training in classical ballet for 17 years, Rebecca constantly finds herself being drawn to explorations of movement and motion, a concept that extends to her filmmaking. Recently working as editor of the short documentary ‘Chen’ (2019) about The Australian Ballet Principal Artist, Chengwu Guo, the film received a silver award at the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.

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Director Statement

In creating ‘Special’, I aimed to address society’s damaging acceptance towards the sexualisation of girls from a young age. From seemingly insignificant objectifying actions such as commenting on the clothes that a young girl wears, the film explores how these minor deeds further enable the darker aspects of sexualisation in society, such as pedophilia. This film's heads of departments consist of all women, reinforcing the fact that this is a female story told by female filmmakers.

The film also explores the complexity of trust in different relationships. In gymnastics, the relationship between a coach and an athlete is a very close one. As a trainer and mentor, the coach has a major influence on not only a gymnast’s performance but also on their sense of self worth. “Special” explores this impact through a situation where a coach has abused his power and a gymnast’s trust has been taken advantage of.

The genesis of ‘Special’ comes from the trial of Larry Nassar, an ex-USA Gymnastics Doctor who was handed a state prison sentence of 175 years for the sexual abuse of at least as many as 265 athletes. A master manipulator, over a period of 28 years Nassar was able to convince police and university officials that earlier accusations were simply misunderstandings, thus allowing the assault to be covered up and continued. As such, “Special” is set in the year 2002, a time when assault cases were consistently being covered up in the gymnastics community. I believe that this is an important film to make because it is an extremely relevant issue in current society and it is important to educate people on the past in order to inspire social change in protocol for the future. Through this film I also aim to raise awareness about the realities that sexual assault victims face and the shame that they feel, thus giving a voice to these silenced girls.