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‘Sequin in a Blue Room’ Arrives in the UK to Rave Reviews

‘Still from Sequin in a Blue Room’ | Dir. Samuel Van Grinsven | Image: Nicholas Gascoine

A flood of rave reviews heralds the arrival of AFTRS alum Samuel Van Grinsven’s AACTA and ADG-nominated feature directorial debut, Sequin in a Blue Room, as it lands on multiple VOD and virtual cinema platforms in the UK and Ireland.

Acquired by Peccadillo Pictures for UK and US distribution, Van Grinsven’s Master of Arts Screen capstone project has been on a wild ride since its world premiere at Sydney Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. With berths at Palm Springs, Outfest, TIFF Next Wave and BFI Flare, among many others, this critical acclaim in the UK comes as no surprise.

This queer coming-of-age tale was directed by Samuel Van Grinsven, produced by AFTRS Bachelor of Arts (Screen) graduate Sophie Hattch and made in collaboration with a talented crew of their fellow AFTRS students, including Ellie-nominated editor Tim Guthrie and ACS-winning cinematographer Jay Grant. Alumnus Simon Croker (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017) makes a star turn in the film, as fan-favourite, Tommy.

In a four-star review in The Guardian, Phuong Le lauds Sequin in a Blue Room as “impressive” and “rippling with an electrifying sexual energy.”

“That Sequin in a Blue Room was director Samuel van Grinsven’s graduate project is astonishing considering the film’s inspired visual panache, and the eroticism of the explicit depictions of casual sex… with such an impressive debut, Van Grinsven is surely one to watch.”

The Observer’s, Wendy Ide also awarded four stars to the feature, saying, “this feature debut from the Sydney-based writer and director Samuel Van Grinsven may tackle familiar material – gay coming-of-age stories are hardly uncommon – but it does so with a lustre and style that marks Van Grinsven out as a name to watch.”

In BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine, Alex Davidson referred to Sequin in a Blue Room as a “riveting and constantly surprising debut,” adding that “The Blue Room sequence is particularly accomplished, and all the performances are strong.”

In another four-star write-up from The Irish Times (alongside a feature in their roundup of new films to stream), Tara Brady said the feature “casts an otherworldly spell” and that “it’s hard to believe this clever, compelling project was completed as the director’s Australian Film, Television, and Radio School master’s project.”

Producer Linus Gibson, actor Simon Croker, producer Sophie Hattch, director/writer Samuel Van Grinsven, actor Conor Leach and writer Jory Anast | AACTA Awards Luncheon

Awarding Sequin in a Blue Room a perfect score of five stars, UK-based publication Culture Fix’s glowing review calls Sequin in a Blue Room a “must-see” and a “truly spectacular account of queer coming of age in a digital area [that] feels fresh, vital, and gripping.”

It goes on to say, “from its opening titles it is clear that Sequin in a Blue Room is a cinematic experience confident in its identity and message … this debut feature is an intoxicating one examining queer coming of age in a digital era.”

The review praises Jay Grant’s cinematography, calling his work “truly intoxicating” and notes that “Van Grimsven and Anast’s narrative is a subtly thrilling one with Sequin in a Blue Room veering between erotic drama to taut suspense thriller.”

And, sums up with, “the film features a magnetic lead performance from young Conor Leach, artistic and enigmatic aesthetics, sharp direction from Samuel Van Grimsven which blends beauty, sensuality and thrills, in a well-crafted, gradually escalating narrative.”

Naming Sequin in a Blue Room as Morning Star’s Film of the Week and giving it four stars, Maria Duarte said, “Van Grinsven’s wonderfully arresting debut feature is an affecting, queer, teenage coming-of-age story all rolled into one.” Praising the film as “frank and uncompromising,” Duarte said the film is “both haunting and thought-provoking, and provides a refreshing, gay coming-of-age insight from life Down Under.”

In what can only be described as a gushing review, David Jenkins of Little White Lies declares the film to be “beautifully made, original and focused,” and notes that it “achieves so much on a low budget through subtle formal innovation… Van Grinsven brings this spicy story together in a way which is at once compelling as a genre film and sex-positive as a study of social mores.”

And, implores audiences: “Don’t sleep on this fast-paced and thematically juicy Australian indie by debut director Samuel Van Grinsven.”

Continuing the film’s four-star streak, Flip Screen’s Emily Maskell said, “with no shame of queerness, Sequin in a Blue Room is a revitalized queer narrative that charts a young man’s burgeoning desire with visceral visual intimacy and honed dramatic intensity.”

Sequin in a Blue Room is available to watch in Australia and New Zealand on Amazon Prime Video, and in the UK on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Curzon and more via Peccadillo Pictures. The film will be released in the US, Canada and Scandinavia on 17 May 2021.



Director/screenwriter: Samuel Van Grinsven (Master of Arts Screen, 2018)
Screenwriter: Jory Anast
Producer: Sophie Hattch (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017)
Associate producer: Linus Gibson (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017)
Cinematographer: Jay Grant (Graduate Certificate in Cinematography Fundamentals, 2014)
Editor: Tim Guthrie (Master of Arts Screen, 2018)
Composer: Brent Williams (Master of Arts Screen, 2016)
Production Designer: Anna Gardiner
Costume designer: William Tran (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017)
Sound designer: Audrey Houssard (Graduate Diploma in Sound, 2014)
First assistant camera: Dan Abbot (Graduate Certificate in Cinematography, 2014), Carina Burke (Graduate Certificate Screen: Cinematography, 2017)
Second assistant camera: Lucca Barone-Peters (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Alyssa Montgomery (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2018), Annabel Hennessey (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Zac Hardaker (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Emma Elias (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Mitch Loveday (Foundation Diploma, 2014), Sally Cattle (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2019)
Steadicam focus puller: Dan Abbot (Graduate Certificate in Cinematography, 2014), Carina Burke (Graduate Certificate Screen: Cinematography, 2017)
H&M/makeup artist: Oliver Levi-Malouf (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2018)
Sound recordists: Gavin Davis (Graduate Certificate Screen: Editing, 2018; Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Nathan Codner (Graduate Diploma: Film, Television and Digital Media Location Sound Recording, 2004), Oliver Brighton (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Tahira Donohoe-Bales (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2018)
Boom operator: Adam Boys (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2018)
Props Buyer: Matilda Teernstra (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017)
Art department assistants: Emily Jansz (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Juliette Beck (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Lily Ford (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2019), Elizabeth Dingle (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017) Monique Terry (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017)
Assistant editor: Gavin Davis (Graduate Certificate Screen: Editing, 2018; Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Timothy O’Connor (Master of Arts Screen, 2018)
Sound re-recording editor/additional sound editing: Stuart Melvey (Master of Arts Screen, 2018)
Colourist: Lucca Barone-Peters (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017)
Key art and stills photographer/gaffer: Nicholas Gascoine
Stills photographers: Louise Dietz-Henderson (Bachelor of Arts (Screen), 2017), Serena Siow (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2019)