Film: 'Allergies' finds humour in  lockdown


Short film explores the lighter side of COVID restrictions, using pepper and teleportation.

Like many Australians, student filmmaker Yasmin Malak struggled with the restrictions imposed by last year's COVID lockdown. After an initial period of enjoying the break from the outside world, she found quarantine suffocating. Her response was to create a short film which explored the role humour and escapism could play in our everyday lockdown lives.

"Everyone was so serious so what else was there to do," said Malak, who scripted, directed, shot and starred in Allergies, because her actors "disappeared" due to the lockdown. "I was hand sanitising, bloody, every item I got back for Woolies. So it was just so overwhelming, you know, I felt like we needed something a bit lighthearted to make fun of it all. But at the same time, showing the seriousness of it."

In the film, a new social phenomenon emerges in which people who sneeze can teleport, thus escaping the lockdown. How the film's protagonist deals with the revelation that she can teleport during COVID is funny and offers an insight into a desire for escapism. Teleportation is the one superpower Malak would choose for herself.

'I felt like we needed something a bit lighthearted to make fun of it all.'

The filming also allowed her to experience places she would never have thought of before. "I got to go to heaps of cool little places that were very isolated, nice."

As for the tag line, "it's not just allergies", Malak said nowadays, someone will sneeze and then reassure the people around them: "Oh guys, it's just allergies. I don't have COVID, I'm safe." Throughout the film, you don't think of much of the fact that the girl was sneezing heaps, but then at the end, you hear teleporting (when you sneeze) is emerging as a new symptom of COVID.

So, in this case, she said, "it wasn't actually just allergies. It was actually COVID."

Yasmin Malak created Allergies for UNSW's Screen Production course ARTS1064.


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