It’s been a long journey to Australian cinemas for local production, Little Deaths. Two full years from it’s showing at the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival, its impending run at Cinema Nova beginning November 4th must feel a great vindication for the many collaborators responsible for this unique showcase of home-grown talent.

Little Deaths takes its name from the French expression for orgasm, la petite mort—a beautifully dark little polyseme that should tell you something about the nature of this film. Intimate, bittersweet, occasionally cruel (but not without humour), Little Deaths is a compilation of loosely intertwined short films on the subjects of love, lust, sex and loss.

Written by Giula Sandler, and featuring eleven directors, Little Deaths is understandably eclectic. While not without its faults, its ambition is commendable. Entirely set in Melbourne, this collection has enough confidence in its storytelling to dispense with the forced and self-conscious Australianisms that risk trivialising many of our local films. Little Deaths admirably sets its sights on emotional universality rather than settling for the tempting safety of derivative localism. Though by no means ashamed of their Melburnian roots, these stories do not rely on their locale for their significance—a somewhat refreshing rarity amongst Australian films.

All the same, Little Death will certainly not appeal to everyone. Despite its strengths, viewing all eleven shorts back-to-back is quite demanding—especially if you are not a short film enthusiast. To be fair, however, this has more to do with the emotionally-condensed nature of the medium than to any particular flaw in the individual narratives. And while it might occasionally sag under the weight of its own self-seriousness, Little Deaths nonetheless promises an exciting future for Melbourne’s independent filmmakers.

Little Deaths opens at Cinema Nova on November 4.