(director/writer: Lachan McCleod; cinematographer: Louis Dai; editor: Lachan McCleod/Louis Dai; music: Patrick Grigg; cast: Sandra Pankhurst; Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: David Elliott-Jones, Charlotte Wheaton; Good Thing Production/Walking Fish; 2020-Australia)
“Just a wonderful inspirational story, worth catching.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Australian documentarian Lachan McCleod (“Big in Japan”) dives into a story about the niche industry of trauma cleaning services. He does so by telling us a fly-on-the-wall unique personal story of that industry’s greatest success story, that of the Aussie business owner Sandra Pankhurst (who passed away a year before the film was released) and of the workers at Melbourne’s Specialised Trauma Cleaning Services, the company she started in the 1990s. Her cleaning services do the following: clean up crime scenes after a death, clean deceased estates, clean mold in homes, clean-up fires in homes or in industry, meth lab cleanups, clean-up industrial accidents, and aid the disabled or mentally incapacitated who cannot care for their own living quarters.
As a child Sandra was abused and left to live outside. She was at seven adopted and as a young adult turned to prostitution. During that period she was married and divorced. When the court ruled her a homosexual, it resulted in her being banned from seeing her children and she began her search to find her identity as a transgender. She finally found her niche in life in the 1990s by going into her unique cleaning business and of showing great sympathy to those under stress.
Her workers provide therapy and any needed help for the victims. When interviewed, the workers said the job is stressful but it means so much to them that they can help those in need.
Just a wonderful inspirational story, worth catching. Though it’s disjointed and leaves a lot of questions unanswered (like about her private life). Its story is better than its execution.
Played at the SXSW festival in the documentary competition.
REVIEWED ON 8/23/2022 GRADE: B