A newly-single father struggles to weather the turbulence of change in his family, while a new immigrant endeavours to find her place in a foreign land.

Set in 1971 rural Australia, Introverted Leo is a metalworker at his small town’s local plant. After his wife vanishes, leaving him to care for their two young children, he is bereft – barely able to cook a decent meal or keep the household running. So when a recently-arrived Italian colleague suggests that his sister, Maria, act as surrogate homemaker, Leo reluctantly accepts. But can one woman’s warm, nurturing presence fill the void left by another, and can Leo yield to the winds of change?

The film distils the many upheavals of 1970s Australia – from immigration and post-war resettlement, to urbanisation, anti–Vietnam War protests and the women’s liberation movement – into a narrative about one man’s struggle to adapt. LITTLE TORNADOES is a portrait of a country at a turning point and the human desire for connection.

Directors Statement

The film explores male vulnerability, cross-cultural connection, and the universality of such experiences as they relate to all of us – men and women. In its broadest sense, the story of LITTLE TORNADOES comments on the changing social and cultural landscape in rural Australia in 1971, in a small community still suffering the legacy of war.

The film’s story reflects on the legacy of war and how it has a lasting impact on family across the generations, and on the greater society. It opens with a young father tasked with raising his two young children — but he cannot do it alone. He must rely on support from new Italian immigrants in town (who represent change and a different perspective), while trying to manage the confused connection with his war-affected father (a representation of the past informing the future). The film looks inward at one person’s vulnerabilities in one small town, but it’s this daily human struggle that is relevant to us all.

The emotional isolation in the film allows me to explore the Australian culture of stoicism, and how this can be damaging when trying to establish one’s own masculinity and self-identity. This film is my way of trying to understand humanity and belonging, and how to recognise and cope with factors beyond our control that shape and affect our lives.