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N U M B E R 125 J U N E 1998

S E E K I N G NEW S E N S A T I O N S IN A U S T R A L I A N C I N E M A


inhabits a special position in the effects food chain. Our growth traverses cinema from Mouse Hunt to Face/Off and Blackrock to Babe. Cross-breeding talented designers, animators, compositors with our formidable technical resource base ^

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C I N E MA P A P E R S »JUNE

co te ts

1998

NUMBER

INSIGHTS mbits

F O

2

inperspective

10

The resurgence o f T aiw anese cinema. RICHARD HAVIS

C U S

Dance Me to My Song R o lf de H eer made his th ird visit to Com pétition in Cannes w ith D ance M e to M y S ong this y e a r. He talks to A ndrew L. U rban about his latest film. 20

shorts

12

An Independent's Day

S h o rt films in the e ra o f cable television. CRAIG KIRKWOOD

festivals

A ndrew L. U rban charts the path o f the adventurous broadcasting and film production

14

outfit, S B S I, w h ile S cott M urray highlights the dazzling S hiftin g Sandd and Radiance.

The 1 9 9 8 P anoram a o f Indian Cinem a. JOHN HOOD

postcards

22

16

V idéothèque de Paris; and ‘soft-titles'. PAUL KALINA

inretrospect

Head On A n a K o kkin o s’ first feature covers 2 A hours in the life o f a y ou n g G reek-A u stralian b oy in the throes

18

The forgotten career o f M aurice E lvey. BARRIE PATTISON

inreview

45

o f turm oil o v er his id entity and sexuality. 26

John Ruane’s Sentimental Comedies D irector J o h n R uane and scrip tw riter D eborah C ox explore the lives o f tw o lo n ely souls w o rk m g at the D ead L etter O ffice.

M ichael K itson investigates. FILMS: lWalkabout, p lu s n e w v id e o s B u ffy Down Under,

32

Cthulhu, D iana and M e, Firedtorm , Love in Ambudh, Under the L ighthoude D ancing BOOKS: An A utobiography o f Britidh Cinem a

technicalities

55

C G I and telecines. BARRIE SMITH. O ne o f the w orld 's great cinem atographers, W a lte r Las sally, talks shop. LINDSAY AMOS

A Family Affair N ine y e a rs after m aking the v e ry successful and m uch-aw arded short com edy Bonza,

inproduction

75

dirty dozen

80

A

A round-up of A ustralian films

It's seriously funny, too, w rites FlNCINA HOPGOOD.

soon to unspool across the globe.

36

42

a n d N e w Z e a l a n d D is t r ib u t io n OF QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FILM FOR THEATRICAL, VIDEO AND TELEVISION RELEASE.

in

Australia at Cannes

D avid S w a n n ven tu res mto the home o f a suburban fam ily to make his first feature, Crackerd.

u s t r a l ia n

C o m p e t it io n : R O L F D E H E E R ’ S in

DANCE ME TO MY SONG

D ir e c t o r ’ s F o r t n ig h t A n a K O K K IN O S ’

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u s t r a l ia ’ s L e a d in g C in e m a G r o u p

HEAD ON

C O M IN G S O O N FO R A U S TR A L IA N R ELEA S E

TH E SW EET HER EAFTER J o h n S a y l e s ’ M E N W IT H G U N S F it z g e r a l d ’ s T H E H A N G IN G G A R D E N J o h n H e w it t ’ s R E D B A L L

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C a n n e s : T a IT B R A D Y - G e n e r a l M a n a g e r

3 R ue 14 J U L L IE T

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C a n n e s : A n t o n io Z e c c o l a - M a n a g in g D ir e c t o r G rand H otel - 9 3 3 8 15 4 5


a three-picture deal with Miramax, and will start with a feature-length version of his graduating short, Titsiana Booberini.

QPIX SHOOTS STRAIGHT

a new AFTRS documentary, A Breath, directed by Christopher Tuckfield; and a selection of feature films: Kiss or Kill (Bill Bennett, 1997); Road to Nhill (Sue Brooks, 1997), Return Home (Ray Argali, 1990), Life (Lawrence Johnston, 1996) and The Boys (Rowan Woods, 1998).

J

ust launched in Brisbane is the new screen resource centre, QPIX. Funded through the Australian Film Commission and the Pacific Film and Television Commission, QPIX is the new home to Queensland’s cultural service organizations, including WIFT, QDOX, State of the Art and QMAC. QPIX’s mission is to provide an internal and external focal point for screen culture in the sunshine state by providing support and facilities for special interest groups and individu­ als. These facilities include subsidized equipment access, professional devel­ opment and training, filmmaker support, job referral service, screening and exhibition of completed work, and production offices.

FORUM AUSSI ES AT CANNES here was a lot of celluloid activity around Cannes in May, and skirt­ ing the edges of the main film festival in the Forum section was a special pro­ gramme of Australian films curated and collected by Bernard Bories of Cinéma des Antipodes. Included this year was a collection of AFTRS and VCA short films to celebrate their respective 25th and 30th anniversaries, including

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STRIKING THE RIGHT ACCORD

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he first eight short films to receive funding from the newly-formed Arena-Cinemedia Accord have been announced. The winners are: D e a d o n T im e (3 m in )

W-D: Bojan Simic. P: Katie McPhee. F ir s t Lo v e (3.5 m i n ) W-D: Phillip Crawford. P: Chris Durbridge. T h e T a le o f t h e Pa p e r H e a r t s (4 m in )

W-D: Bree McKilligan. P: Clare Sawyer. T h ie f (6 m i n )

D: Hayley Cloake. W: Guila Sandler. P: Libby Porter N ig h t m o v e s (6

THE HOLLYWOOD CONNECTION

A

s well as importing some Hollywood talent, Australia has also been exporting our talent, and three VCA School of Rim and Television graduates have been signed up for projects with Hollywood studios. Emma-Kate Croghan, of Love and Other Catastrophes fame, and a 1993 graduate, has signed a develop­ ment deal with Universal Pictures, and is working on a film based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, “A Scan­ ner Darkly”, to be produced by Jersey Pictures. Jamie Blanks, a 1992 gradu­ ate, is directing his first feature, Urban Legend, for Phoenix Pictures, and 1996 graduate Robert Luketic is to direct a remake of the Hayley Mills film, The Trouble with Angels, for Columbia Pictures. He’s also signed

m in )

D: Amanada Brotchie. W: Trudy Hellier. P: Melanie Coombs R ip p l e s (6

116 Argyle St, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia 3065 PO Box 2221, Fitzroy MDC, yiGgfoés Tel: (61.3) 9416 2644 Fax: (61.3) 9416 4088 email: %murray@eis.r(ef:atr Editor: Scott Murray Deputy Editor: Paul Kalina Editqrial Assistance: Tim Hunter Advertising: Terry Haebich Subscriptions: Mina Carattoli . Accounts: Lindsay Zamudib; ' Proofreading: Arthur.S'aiton ' ' Office Cat: OdçjspQt Legal: Dan Pearce (Holding Redlich) !MTV Board of Directors: RpsiDimseyCChairman)., Natalie Miller, Matthew Learmonth, Pénny Attiwill, MichaelDolphin Founding Publishers: Peter Beilby, Scott Murray, Philippe Mofa- , , 'design & Production: Parkhouse Publishing Pty Ltd Tel: (61.3) 9347 8882 Printing: Printgraphics Pty Ltd* * Film: Condor .Group Distribution: Network Distributioln © COPYRIGHT 1998'MTV PUBLISHING LIMITED Signed articles represent the views o^tne authors and not neces- •• sarily those o f the editor and publisher. While every care is taken with manuscripts and materials supplied to the magazine* neither the editor nor the publisher can accept liability for any loss or in whole or part without the express permission o f the copyright owners. Cinema Papers is published by MTV Publishing Umited; .

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116 Argyle St, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia 3065, and is indexed b y FIAR

D: Nic Ridge. W: Nova Weetman. P: Sandi Austin. E l d e r N a n c e (1 2

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damage which may arise. This magazine may not be reproduced

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W-D: Nicky Tynsdale-Biscoe. P: Mish Armstrong.

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CINEMA PAPERSJS'PUBUSHED WITH FINANCIALASSISTANCE FROM THE AUSTRALIAN FILM COMMISSION AND CINEMEDIA

A c c id e n t s W il l H a p p e n (2 0 m in )

D: Guy Richards. W: Matt Saville. P: Fabienne Nicholas. Also announced recently was the winner of the inaugural Dox Direct CinemediaSBS Independent Accord competition. That prize goes to Melbourne filmmaker Christina Heristanidis for her documen­ tary Omelette - A Multicultural Love Story. She will receive Rim Victoria documentary investment as well as a broadcasting licence fee from SBS Independent.

ciïgK^necÉa

A USTRA LIA N

contributors Lin d s a y A m o s CAMERAMAN.

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c o r r e s p o n d e n t fo r M oving P ictures S

M ic h a e l H e l m s

is t h e ed ito r of Fata l

Visions .

Jo h n W . H o o d is a in t e r e s t in In dian

w r it e r w ith a s p e c ia l c in em a

F in c in a H o p g o o d i is a r e s id e n t t u t o r in E n g lish a n d C in em a Stu d i ‘es , a t O rm o n d Co l l e g e . C r a ig K ir k w o o d is -t h 6 f o u n d er of Fl ic k e r f e s t a n d now m a k e s a l iv in g as a w r it e r , d e s ig n e r a n d t e c h NICAb,c o n ­ s u l t a n t to th e film in d u s t r y .-H e ca’n be CONTACTED AT CRAIG@FEARLESS'.ORG.AUI M ic h a e l K it s o n ON FILM.

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M elb o u r .n l

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La z a r K r u m is t h e fo r m e r EXECuf>gE||| DIRECTOR OF MELBOURNE-GiOPsEN CHAN­ NEL AND NOW AN^EXECUTIV,EAT Me d ia Wo r l d . B r ia n M c Fa r l a n e is an A ssoc ia te P po FESSOR IN THE ENGLISH DEPARTMfNT-Af;^ M o n a sh Un iv e r s it y .

SCENE CHATTING he AFI-AFC Industry Night for March once again gave filmmakers a chance to meet, eat, drink and chat with each other, hopefully picking up some handy hints and inside info. New short films screened included The TwoWheeled Time Machine by David Lowe, Two/Out by Kriv Stenders and A Shared Affair by Cameron Hay. Scottish writer-producer Billy Mackinnon (Small Faces, 1996) was seen chatting around, and impressing with his raconteur skills all who listened.

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w r o t e , pr o d u ced , a w

d ir e c te d P us sy Go t

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Vi *up To n g u e 7

is a film d ip e c t o p and

w r it e r on fil m .

Ma r g a r etv S m ij h Iis a-Sy'dney writer^ AND DIRECTOR. A n d r e w L. U r b a n is a w r ite r on film A u str a lia n c o p p e s p o n d e n t for M oving P ictures H is o n - l in e ’ z in e . , m gjgg Ur b a n Cinefile i,s lo c a ted a t w w w . u r b a n g ie file . c o m .au .. B •

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C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1 998


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pagne): Mate (Evan Ctarry)

PRIZE-WINNING SHORTS

T h e M e d ia W o r l d A u d i ­

he 4th annual Cafe Provincial Comedy Film Festival was held on 5 April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and screened 13 comedy films on an open-air screen on Johnston Street, Fitzroy, just outside the Provincial Hotel. Prizes were awarded by a judging panel comprising Tait Brady, General Manager, Palace Distribution; Mark Grade, producer; Scott Murray, editor, Cinema Papers-, John Ruane, film director; and Madeleine Swain, reporter for the ABC’s arts programme, Express. And those winners are:

A w a r d ($1,000 cash): The Wedden (Juliet Porter)

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T h e C a f e P r o v in c ia l P r iz e

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en ce

T he A u s t r a l ia n Film I n s t i ­ tu te

D is t r ib u t io n A w a r d

(distribution deal throughout Australia and New Zealand): The Kiss and Quill Qo Kennedy) he 8th annual Mel­ bourne Queer Film & Video Festival also screened a selection of Australian short films and, again, a prize was awarded. The winner of the

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COVER:

Ari (Alex Dimitriades) in Ana Kokkinos’ Head On. T u r tle C o v e A w ard

fo r

B e s t A u s t r a l ia n Q u e e r

S h o r t F ilm (a week for two at Turtle Cove Resort,

Cairns), as judged by film lecturer Chris Berry, film critic Barbara Creed and arts reporter Madeleine Swain, is: Nobody I Know (Andrew Porter)

B e s t F ilm

($4,000 cash): The Kiss (Alan Lovell)

CULTURE-DRIVEN ECONOMIES

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ilmmakers, governments, cultural institutions and audiences throughout the world have cele­ brated the centenary of cinema, recognizing that film, television, video and digital media are the art forms of the 20th Century. Screen Culture provides the essential environment within which ideas are exchanged, contexts created, partnerships forged and films made. The relationship between culture and industry is symbiotic. Today, the Government’s support to Screen Culture underpins a vibrant, committed network of organizations and activities across the country. Hand in hand with our film industry, these carefully nur­ tured strands enhance our cultural lives and our economy. The few precious, subsidized energy centres in Australia which offer the general public multilevel access and education are the screen resource cen­ tres: Media Resource Centre in Adelaide; Melbourne’s OPENChannel; Sydney’s Metro Television; Perth’s Film and Television Institute; and Brisbane’s QPIX. They offer aspiring film- and video-makers an afford­ able way into Australia’s expanding film, television

F

and multimedia industries. Our film festivals and industry awards have been the inspiration for generations of our filmmakers, cre­ ators and general public. The Australian Film Institute, and Melbourne and Sydney Film Festivals, in particu­ lar, have played an invaluable role in bringing the world to Australia via cinema, and in forging count­ less international exchanges. Organizations like Sydney Intermedia Network and

4

i cm

Y clcviçion A md £La d k ) Çchool

Experimenta Media Art promote and exhibit innova­ tive and challenging film, video and new media works, affording critical opportunities for established and emerging artists to exhibit, tour and discuss their work. Screen Culture operates all manner of services and programmes for schools, individuals, organiza­ tions and corporations. Access to library resource material (books, press cuttings, magazines), information services and educational film and video distribution depend on Government funds, as do long-standing film journals like Cinema Papers, the OnScreen section of RealTime, Metro and Continuum. At the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the past six years have been spent establishing a new energy centre for contemporary visual culture. The MCA’s drive to create a Cinematheque by late 2000 as part of the Museum has been supported since 1989 by Government funding. We need to acknowledge that certain cultural work will never be undertaken by the private sector and that ongoing Government financial responsibility for this work is not only significant for the development of an aware film industry sector, but a means of providing depth and substance to cultural life in general. Film culture returns far more than it costs, creates new audiences, nurtures young talent and places us in an informed world context. It has helped shape a con­ fident and clever Australia. As filmmaker George Miller observed, “Culture drives economies, not the other way around.”

A

ctor and short film writer-director Rachel

Griffiths talks about films that have changed her life. Films that have changed my life are split into two different groups: those that have affected me fun­ damentally on a personal level, and those that have affected me creatively. Those on the personal list include Sex, Lies, & Videotape (Steven Soderbergh, 1989), Jesus of Montréal (Denys Arcand, 1989), Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989), one of the greatest films in the past 50 years, and Fearless (Peter Weir, 1993). Those on the creativity list are His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940), which really made me want to be an actor, and Ground­ hog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993), as well as some crossovers from the personal list. Jesus of Montréal, Groundhog Day, Fearless and Crimes and Misdemeanours are, for me, all films that have triumphantly woven form and content, and have achieved a balance to create something sublime. Sex, Lies, & Videotape made me realize that I really am a voyeur. It’s that vicarious pleasure dis­ tilled into the most perfect form. I find it so erotic, that mix of sex and psychology. I’m most inter­ ested in explorations of the male psychology, and the side that’s not really explored very often. I’m tired of the bastard/man as anti-hero thing; I’m just not interested in that, or films like In the Company of Men (Neil LaBute, 1998) or The Boys (Rowan Woods, 1998). They may be really good films, but I have to ask, “What are you contribut­ ing here? What are you wanting the audience to feel, and why?” I question the values in a film so nihilistic in its representation of the human condi­ tion that you leave thinking “bring back capital punishment”. I’m more interested in the 85 per­ cent of men out there that are not bastards, but whose softer sides, fears and struggles are rarely explored. I’m into transformations in films; I’m not interested in films that make you feel shit. I must be an old hippy. I think, “Let’s all love each other.” La Haine {Hate, Matthieu Kassovitz, 1995) is a film that really affected me. It started off so bleak. I thought, “Oh god, another film about depressed youth on a housing estate.” I thought it was going to be totally inhumane and nihilistic, but, in the end, it was the most humane film I’d seen in a long time. I had to be carried out. It tackled the notion of social responsibility in a completely undidactic way, and really showed the sadness of the boys. It’s that perfect mix of form and content that inspires me to be a better human being, and a better artist.

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


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mbits APPOINTMENTS creenWest has appointed Franco di Chiera to establish a script office in Western Australia for a threemonth contracted position. Di Chiera will provide script advice to industry applicants, assess scripts for develop­ ment funding, and assist in the development of new ScreenWest cre­ ative development initiatives. He has previously worked as Executive Pro­ ducer for SBS Independent. The Australian Film Commission has announced the appointment of Diana Berman as Director of Market­ ing. Berman comes from a distribution and marketing background, and will be taking over from Sue Murray, who resigned after 17 years with the AFC.

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CORRIGENDA

What’s missing from this picture?

n the article titled “Getting An Airing” in Cinema Papers no. 123, March 1998 (pp. 22-4, 44), Chris Zwar’s documentary was incorrectly

Yes, the author’s byline. Sincere apologies to Adrian Rawlins for the technical snafu.

I

titled. The correct name is Neurodancer. For those understandably confused by the apparent non-conclusion to Paul Cox’s “A Vulnerable Heart” in the previous issue (pp. 26-7), the conclusion does, in fact, exist on pp. 42-3. In the photo on p. 35 of the previous issue, the male actor in the A Little Bit of Soul photograph was incorrectly captioned. It is, in fact, David Wenham, who plays Richard Shorkinghorn.

email: cp@parkhouse.com.au

(MIS)INTERPRETINGTHE FUTURE: (MIS)INTERPRETINO THE PAST D e a r E d it o r ,

This concerns the review [by Monica Zetlin] in Cinema Papers, no. 120, October 1997, of Doing Time for Patsy Cline. I just saw the film for the second time (it finally came to Lismore, where I live). After thoroughly enjoying the details of the film again, I re-read [Zetlin’s] review. I felt, again, that [Zetlin] did not do it justice. The thing most enjoyable about the film is the flashbacks to and from Nashville, Tennessee. These show Ralph’s thoughts and dreams as he imagines what might happen in the future. [Zetlin] seem[s] to have missed the point of these sections. In the review, [Zetlin] say[s], “the film attempts an interesting-although not entirely successful - refiguring of this linear structure by starting and inter­ spersing the flow of the story with scenes from the future, when all three find themselves in Nashville.” The three, in fact, never find themselves in Nashville - the scenes are what Ralph is dreaming could happen. There are subtle but consistent messages throughout the screenplay that show these scenes are being dreamed by Ralph. When the real story kicks back in we usually see Ralph staring out of his cell window, or with his eyes closed, and he is jolted back to reality. In another section of the review, [Zetlin] comments] that “instead of getting a feel for the characters developing, and story ideas unfold­

8

ing, the structural interweaving of the two strands instead plays like the same story being told at the same time, but in different locations”. Of course it’s the same story - Ralph is transposing what he feels about the characters throughout their ordeal onto the characters in his imaginary trip to Nashville. When Ralph is going through a stage of hating Boyd - sur­ prise - the Nashville Ralph hates the Nashville Boyd. The Nashville Boyd makes a silly comment about Patsy singing like Nefertiti, which he would never really make, but at that stage Ralph doesn’t know that Boyd is a musical virtuoso, so he thinks Boyd entirely capable of making such a comment. Do you see how this is an extremely effective way of revealing all of Ralph’s feelings and fantasies throughout the “real” story? We can tell that Ralph fancies Patsy a bit, and he plays out his fantasy in his dreams of Nashville, kissing Patsy in the hotel room. Ralph sacrifices three months of his life to let Boyd go free and look after Patsy, and in a similar way Ralph sacrifices his career in Nashville so that Patsy can continue to be successful. Without going into any more of the delicious details, Ralph’s delightful parallel story, dreamed up as the events in his real life occur, seems to have been lost on [Zetlin]. If the film did have a fault, it would be that perhaps it did not make the dreams of Ralph obvious as just that dreams. As a reviewer in a respected publi­

cation, [Zetlin] obviously wield[s] a lot of power over the choices of the peo­ ple who read it. I subscribe to Cinema Papers, and often make choices about which films to see on the basis of a review I find in there. I only hope that people weren’t turned off the film because [Zetlin] failed to appreciate the purpose of the major plot tech­ nique in the scriptwriting. A lot of time, money and effort obviously goes into getting films off the ground in Australia (I don’t suppose [Zetlinj’d need to be reminded of this) remember that [Zetlin is] jeopardizing the large wager that a film is every time [she] put[s] pen to paper (finger to keyboard?). Be wary not to miss the subtleties of films - as this situa­ tion demonstrates they can be very important. [Zetlin] must review many films in a year, many of them bad, and it would be a formidable task trying to pay sufficient attention to detail. I just thought I should point out this mistake of [Zetlin’s], even if it just means [Zetlin] might rent out the video and enjoy the film even more the second time around, now that [Zetlin] know[s]the Nashville scenes are all a dream! Thanks for reading, Tim Roxburgh.

review of the film Jackie Brown and was particularly surprised when [he] stated that the fim was “a tale set in the underworld of Los Angeles in the ’70s”. I have also seen Jackie Brown described as a film set in the 1970s in other reviews, but was particularly dismayed that this error should occur in such a reputable journal as the Cinema Papers. The film is quite obviously not set in the 1970s and makes no attempt to say that it is (except perhaps the ’70s soundtrack). Apart from all the explicit references to dates during the film, including the direct statement by one of the police officers that the date is 1995, the movie is obviously set in the 1990s from the clothes, the cars, the technology, the background (i.e., the movie posters in the shopping mall for The American President and W olfboth films from 1995).

[NB:] Yes, there is obvious bias pre­ sent here! I am Richard Roxburgh’s nephew.

You’re right, of course, it is a typo, subconsciously triggered by seeing so much of Pam Grier and Robert Forster. It was CAST in the 1970s, but set in the 1990s. Thanks.

Frankly I am bewildered as to how anyone could watch this movie and believe it was set in the 1970s. Could [Urban] please explain why so many reviewers have got it wrong. Did they just incorrectly read the press kits without actually watching the film’? Yours sincerely Tony Pitman Urban

D e a r E d it o r ,

I have just read [Andrew L. Urban’s]

r e p l ie s :

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


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Film is the art of the tw e n tie th c e n tu ry w ith infinite p o ss ib ilitie s. Film V icto ria has, for tw e n ty years, p ro v id e d a c c e s s to fin a n cia l s u p p o rt for film m a ke rs and o rg a n isa tio n s d e d ic a te d to scre en culture. As p a rt of C in e m e d ia , Film V icto ria e m b ra c e s a future w ith o u t b o u n d a rie s and is p le a s e d to s u p p o rt "C an ne sA u s tra lie � p a rt of the Forum C an ne s Festival. http://www.cinemedia.net


A depleted showcase the T998 panorama of Indian cinema by Jobn W. Hood.

T

he annual International

Film Festival of India was held in January in New Delhi and was notably enhanced by an absence of controversy. Selection of films for the Indian Panorama, which last year had given rise to con­ siderable debate, some of it rational and much of it bordering on acrimony, was this year unremarkable but for two things: the selection of only 13 films (though as many as 21 might have been included) and the obliga­ tory withdrawal of the latest film of the eminent director Kumar Shahani. While many wondered at the paucity of the art cinema in 1997 that only 13 films might be considered worthy of Panorama selection, no one was tak­ ing up the cudgels on behalf of any film that had been rejected. The withdrawal of Kumar Shahani’s film was, however, more serious. Char

Adhyay {Four Chapters) is based on the

novel of the same name by Rabindranath Tagore; the copyright holder, Vishvabharati University, had taken out a court injunction against the showing of the film on the grounds that Shahani had not submitted the script to them for approval. After all, the writ­ ings of Tagore are held as marginally less than sacred in Bengal and by their guardian, Vishvabharati. Shahani is a fine filmmaker with a strong sense of artistic integrity; the most ardent devo­ tee of Chekhov, for example, could hardly demur at Shahani’s treatment of the short story, “In the Gully”, in his film Kasba (1990), and to imply that his film might have denigrated Tagore is little less than scandalous. Indeed, CharAdhyay might have been what was needed to add a touch of class to the remaining dozen. There were some very good films in the Panorama, but nothing to compare with the best film of last year, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Lai Darja {The Red Doors),

which went on to win the Golden Lotus for the best film of the year in India as well as numerous international awards and festival invitations, culminating in its inclusion in the final eight nomina­ tions for the 1998 Academy Award for the best Foreign Film. So much of this year’s Indian Panorama is focused on the dark side of human experience, working out ten­ sions and labouring with angst. Two films promised some relief from this bleakness: the Malayalam film, Nagamandala (Coils of the Cobra), directed by T. S. Nagabharana, and Subhash Chand Agrawal’s Hindi film, Rui Ka Bojh {The Weight of Cotton). Nagamandala is the story of two newly-weds and the apparent inacces­

age, the humour of which, despite the stock cantankerousness of the ageing father and the clichéd decline of filial devotion into indignation and annoy­ ance on the part of his youngest son and his family, is intelligent and devoid of the acting excesses that often char­ acterize Indian comedy. But, like Nagamandala, Rui Ka Bhoj also wears thin. The lighthearted, gentle treatment of old age, with its occasional moments of poignant seriousness, soon becomes clouded by wordiness, while the film’s scant character interaction hastens its degeneration into a one-man show as the old man and his voiceover increas­ ingly dominate. More memorable were two films with simple human-interest stories:

So much of this year’s Indian Panorama is focused on the dark side of human experience, working out tensions and labouring with angst. sibility, for them, of marital bliss. It is given the form of an adult fairytale, complete with magic potions and supernatural inversions of body and soul, all in a context of melodramatic romance and slapstick comedy, but the humour is far from sufficient to sustain for long any suspension of disbelief required from the audience to give the film credibility. Nagamandala is very well photographed and, at times, its visual appeal is quite striking, but its thin, hackneyed substance is ruthlessly overworked and drawn out. The repeti­ tion of song only adds to the irritation as the film wears thinner. After a dramatic opening with a thinly-veiled reference to Shake­ speare’s King Lear, though with sons instead of daughters, Rui Ka Bhoj soon reveals itself as a comedy about old

10

Souda {The Deal), by the established Bengali director, Nabyendu Chattejee; and Boothakkannady {The Magnifying Lens), the first feature film of Keralan director, A. K. Lohithadas. Souda portrays a lower-middleclass Calcutta family under the strain of having learnt that the father has been rushed to hospital after being knocked down by a car on his way home from work. What might have been a simple story of a family faced with impending tragedy is complicated by the offer from the wealthy owner of the car to pay the family a substantial sum of money should the father die, so placing them inadvertently on the horns of an unusual moral dilemma. Suddenly, they are drawn into an invidious situation in which they find themselves assessing the worth of C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1 998


festivals

time to time with over-riding expres­ sions of love, but love is severely challenged by violence in the form of an eccentric wild hunter, drawn in dis­ tinct contrast to Vidyadharan. Believing him to be the killer of his beloved’s daughter, Vidyadharan is lured into a fight with him and the hunter falls down a cliff-face and is killed; the repairer of watches is gaoled for seven years. The watchmaker’s eye-glass is a recurring symbol of the introspection that is fundamental to the interest of Lohithadas and which is basic to the underlying melancholy of his film. While such elements as traditional song and dance serve to enhance the notion of introspection in a cultural sense, the stone walls of the gaol do the same in a personal way as they

sentimentalism. Far more successfully defined in scope are Leslie Cavalho’s Outhouse, in English, and Dahan {Crossfire), the second feature film of the young Ben­ gali director, Rituparno Ghosh. Both take up themes of contemporary rele­ vance: Cavalho’s interest being in outmoded male domestic dominance; and that of Ghosh in notions of wom­ en’s social responsibility and the respect society might extend to them. The ‘outhouse’ is a small house within the bounds of a larger property which a young couple come to live in with their two young children. The hus­ band is trying to establish himself as an engineer; the wife, at his insistence, is confined to work in the house. The need for money is foremost among the various circumstances that conspire to

Perhaps the most impressive film of this year’s Panorama was young Keralan director Jayaraaj's Kaliyattam (The Play of God), an ingenious adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello.

their father and husband in material terms. Early in the film, Nabyendu uses the constant heavy rain as a means of iso­ lating the family and focusing, through flashbacks, on the relationship of the seriously injured, comatose man to his wife, son and daughter. After the busi­ nessman’s generous offer, the flashbacks turn to consoling fantasies. Just as the film might seem to be start­ ing to take itself seriously, it becomes clear - late enough in the piece for its rather slender stream of interest not to run dry - that the director’s tongue is planted firmly in his cheek and, as the film ends with a final bulletin on the father’s condition, the question of a happy or sad ending lies entirely with the viewer. C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998

Souda is a tidy, economical and well-balanced piece. The simple script, though somewhat sparse, is tightly enough interpreted, the acting being precise and sufficient with no apparent call for any outstanding performance. Lohithadas’ Boothakkannady is a much more substantial film, though some might consider it rather senti­ mental as well. It centres on a widower, Vidyadharan, a repairer of watches, a man becoming increasingly irrelevant as advanced technology makes his work redundant; indeed, the film has several references to the encroach­ ment of the modern world into a sheltered rural community. Various superstitions along with obsolete notions of caste and traditional beliefs about the role of women clash from

underline the harshness of the separa­ tion from his beloved and his daughter that Vidyadharan has to endure. Boothakkannady is a very moving film, a meld of gentle simplicity and increasing emotional intensity, yet somewhat spoiled by the heavyhanded treatment of the fatal vision beyond the prison walls that brings the work to an end. Several films in the Panorama took up contemporary social problems or issues arising out of recent history. This year’s film with the most easily forgettable name, the Malayalam film Athyunnathangalil Koodaram Panithavar {Those Who Pitched their Tabernacles on the Summits), made by P. M. Abdul Azeez, is set amid the mountains of Kerala and so cannot avoid being visually stunning. Yet while the film is very pleasant to look at, its bulky content requires a considerable effort by the viewer to determine what, exactly, it is about, for the director him­ self is apparently not really sure. The film tries, it would seem, to explore the conflict between Christianity and Com­ munism amongst a small mountain community, but it ends up trying to say too much about too many things with­ out actually bringing them together in some kind of syntactical unity. The mishmash is exacerbated by an excess of polemic, the theological voiceover is a homiletic bore, and the film’s emo­ tional level rarely reaches beyond

challenge the husband’s conservatism and, driven by ego, paranoia and testosterone, he brutally tries to force his wife into submission to his author­ ity and so destroys the marriage. Outhouse is simple and direct, and its emotional element is very strong, particularly as the drama develops in the second half, but it is seriously marred by a labouring of script and performance, both of which are ridden with clichés, and, as the film struggles for interest, it becomes increasingly repetitious. Dahan is a considerably more refined work, although there seems something of a disproportion between the theme and its treatment. The sim­ ple story of a woman trying to get justice done to the young male perpe­ trators of a cowardly assault, and her subsequent confrontation with institu­ tionalized corruption, legal cleverness and aspersion by innuendo, has important implications for a society seeking to establish in itself values of gender equality. Ghosh’s film, how­ ever, rarely delves much beneath the surface, so that the theme is not given the stature that might warrant the extraordinary density of dialogue that seems to be characteristic of this director’s concept of cinema. Like his national award-winning previous fea­ ture, Unishe April {April 19th, 1995), Dahan is notable for its excellent act­ ing and its visual detail. 70

11


shorts

Show me the money! by Craig Kirkwood aking a back seat at the “From Tropfest to Cannes” seminar at Sydney’s Metro TV studios, I listened to the accounts of filmmakers who had reached the Holy Grail of the interna­ tional film industry: the one they call Cannes. The stories were all much the same:

T

We didn’t have any money and the funding bodies wouldn’t talk to us but, hell, we did it anyway and now look at us! We’ve got our picture in the “People” section of Encore, an album full of location shots, and a head full of memories of cocktails in the Mediterranean sun. I wanted to ask, “What about all those hundreds who won’t make it past their bedroom door?”, but nobody would have listened, so I kept my trap shut. And rightly so. It’s been around seven years since I entered the film industry. A retread from the computer industry who headed back to uni for something more glamorous than a soldering iron, I found my turf in short films. It was easy then. It was in the middle of the deepest trough of the recession (remember the recession?) and nobody was doing anything partic­ ularly interesting or new in the exhibition business. Not that I would have known if they were. There was no film press (except Filmnews, which nobody read) and little or no forum for discussion beyond the Sydney Film Festival. They were dry days. At that time, few would have recog­ nized a short film if it slapped them in the face. I remember countless inter­ views explaining that short films are a bona-fide form of entertainment, that they’re not all just student productions and that you really should get down to Flickerfest and see for yourself. It took a long time to develop that audience. Now you get slapped in the face every time you pick up a magazine. There’s a short film festival on every block and no shortage of patrons to attend them. The number of people participating in the film industry is unprecedented. Short films are being both produced and exhibited in dra­ matically-increasing numbers. TropFest attracts audiences in the tens of thousands, Flickerfest goes from strength to strength, as does the St

12

Kilda Film Festival and their many peers around the country. The big guns, the Sydney, Melbourne and Bris­ bane International Film Festivals, continue to present their worldclass fare and the hundreds of little guys keep multiplying. So where do you get the cash? Digi­ tal Video notwithstanding, you still need money to make a movie and, if you shoot on film, the cost (aside from inflation) hasn’t changed much in the

in the wake of the Gonski Review (nemesis of the film bureaucracy), although it remains the largest source of direct funds. The state funding bodies (Screen West, Film Queensland, The NSW Film and TV Office and Cinemedia) continue to fund a slate of shorts, although rarely the complete budget, and they have had less, rather than more, funds available in recent years. The other major source of money for short films

air networks. Having said that, Mel­ bourne’s Prime Time Entertainment is one company I know of that has been negotiating to produce a regular shortfilm slot, but I can’t imagine production funds being available even if it were a success. Leaving cable alone for a moment, that leaves the ABC and SBS. The ABC doesn’t generally fund shorts although it can sometimes be per­ suaded to participate on a project basis. It did, for example, participate in the Australia Council-adminis­ tered, $2 million Loud project, which saw both short fiction and documen­ tary on SBS, the ABC and Channel Ten. In recent years, the ABC has also been involved in Micro Docs (short documentaries), Micro Dance (guess) and, of course, Race Around the World. It is currently pur­ chasing shorts for a new regular slot scheduled to go to air mid-1998 and is broadcasting a series of short musical pieces in conjunction cs* 7 0

There’s a short film festival on every block and no shortage of patrons to attend them. The number of people participating in the film industry is unprecedented. Short films are being both produced and exhibited in dramatically-increasing numbers. last 20 years. So where are short film­ makers finding the money? The Australian Film Finance Corporation has never been big on shorts as they have yet to return a profit (not that fea­ tures usually do) and the Australian Film Commission is funding less shorts

is television and, although the stations can’t really take much credit for the current production frenzy, they do rep­ resent a modest, if inconsistent, pool offunds. In Australia, there’s not much hope for funding from the commercial free-to-

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


REFLECTIONS an autobiographicaljourney

Paul Cox 'Everything we do must somehow be a self-portrait - not to please or reflect the ego but to nourish our natural ability to share beauty and to reflect our inner truths'.

So writes Paul Cox in his beautiful reflection upon his life as a filmmaker and artist. Reflections takes us from Cox's childhood in war-torn Holland, to his unlikely migration to Australia at the age of twenty-two; to his growing obsession with cinema and finally international success. An absorbing book which in its painful and often humorous exploration of his life, reveals the sources of many of his films, deepening our understanding of a complex, generous and irascible filmmaker. Arguably Australia's only true auteur, Paul Cox shot to fame in 1981 with the release of his feature Lonely Hearts. Since then he has augmented his unique position in the Australian film industry with such modest, beautifully observed films such as Man of

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Big changes ahead for Taiwanese cinema by Rickard James Havis

lugubrious historical debut, A Bor­

sexually-confused youth, and his

rowed Life. Stylistically, Chang Tso-chi’s Ah Chung stood out from the

relationship with his family.

majority of Taiwanese films, bringing a

his father and his mother has bro­

Communication between Xiao,

raw, documentary-style edge to a

ken down, and all three lead

modern-day subject.

separate lives. They are the ulti­

ntil recently, those only

liang are trying to cast aside the social

casually acquainted

element of their work altogether, seek­

with Taiwanese cinema

ing a more personal, introspective

is currently the talk of the film festival

could be forgiven for

form of cinema.

circuit, we’ll start with him. Tsai, who

massage an ache in his neck, while

originally trained in television, first

in one scene he engages in homo­

came to critics’ attention with 19 9 2’s

sexual sex with his father. The River

Rebels of the Neon God. Rebels was a

differs from T sai’s earlier films

U

thinking it had some­

Furthermore, even more radical

are set for the future. Shrink­ how become trapped in the changes past. Since ing government financial assistance the ‘New Cinema’ of the early 1980s sig­ and difficulty winning audiences at nalled a rebirth ofTaiwanese cinema,

As the 40-year-old Tsai Ming-liang

mate dysfunctional family: his mother lends him hervibratorto

bleak story of urban ennui and teen

because it explores what is going on in Xiao’s head rather than how

films from the island have generally

home - something put down to Tai­

rebellion set in Taipei, and laid the the­

focused on historical issues: the Japan­

wan’s primitive way of distributing

matic foundations for the film that

he interfaces with the society that surrounds him. Tsai:

ese occupation; the anti-communist

films to c in e m a s - has led to filmmak­

made Tsai’s name, 1994’s Vive

White Terror campaign; life under the

ers deciding to make films with a less

Kuomintang in the 1950s; etc.

intellectual, more mainstream appeal.

L‘Amour. Vive L’Amour is a bleak, cold story

The reason for this interest in the

Four works by Taiwanese directors

of urban alienation in contemporary

past has been twofold. First, directors

-H o u Hsiao-hsien’s Goodbye, South,

Taiwan. Set in a sparsely-furnished

like Hou Hsiao-hsien thought that a

Goodbye, Tsai Ming-liang’s The River, Wu Nien-jen’s Buddha Bless America,

Taipei, the story revolves around three

decision to address the situation in

and Chang Tso-chi’s Ah Chung - make

depressed 20-somethings looking for

public.

it clear that both old and new directors

purpose and companionship - and

want to break with the traditional

finding little of either. Like a film by

thorough analysis of Taiwan’s 20th

apartment in a new towerblock in

It’s certainly a change from my first two films. Rebels o f the Neon God is really about the social environment in Taipei. Vive L ’Amour sees the environ­ ment begin to blend with the

century history would throw some light on the cultural identity of modern Taiwan. Taiwan is a relatively new country and, culturally, has a diverse heritage: it’s a complex mixture of mainland Chinese, indigenous Tai­ wanese, Japanese, and even American components. The New Cinema direc­ tors wanted to use cinema to make some sense of this cultural stew. The second reason was simply a matter of record: much of Taiwan’s post-1945 history was not written down, and the directors wanted to

Nr-ön-■■

leave a record for future generations. Important events had been sup­ pressed by the Kuomintang government, and the filmmakers used cinema to bring these incidents out into the open. For instance, Hou Hsiaohsien’s A City of Sadness told of the notorious 2-28 incident, when Nation­ alist troops from the mainland massacred indigenous Taiwanese protesting about their treatment at the hands of the Kuomintang in 1947. Hou’s film is nowadays said to have forced the Taiwanese Government’s

But Taiwanese cinema, like the country itself, is changing fast. The

themes and styles that have generally

Italian director Michelangelo Anto­

past five years saw the rise of what’s

characterized the New Cinema. Master

nioni, Vive L ’Amour plays out to

become known as the Second or New

director Hou Hsiao-hsien has made a

display the loneliness of the three sad

Wave of directors, a group equally

contemporary-set movie, only the sec­

characters as they attempt to interact

Tsai is often criticized, especially by

interested in contemporary society as

ond in his prolific career, and claimed

with one another.

Taiwanese audiences, for making his

history. Films like Hsu Hsiao-ming’s

to be aiming for a more direct struc­

Dust of Angels, Tsai M ing-liang’s Rebels of the Neon God and Chen Kuofu’s Treasure Island began to look at

ture than in the past. Tsai Ming-liang

ues to voice his concerns about the

said that his The River had nothing to

alienation of life in a modern city. But,

New Cinema works. In fact, some find

do with his inner life. Wu Nien-jen, a

this time around, he tries a different

them too superficial; compared with

the effects of Taiwan’s rapid modern­

prolific scriptwriter who has penned

approach. The story centres on Xiao-

the frantic dialogue and wild plot

ization on the urban dwellers,

more than 70 works for New Cinema

kang (the same character who has

diversions of recent films by Edward

especially the young.

directors, directed a comedy, some­

appeared in different guises in Tsai’s

Yang, or the fragmentary visions of

thing that stood in stark contrast to his

previous films), a rather aim less and

Hou’s latest films, T sai’s movies are

Today, directors like Tsai Ming-

14

characters. The River explores the inner feelings of the main character: by now, the city is just used as a way of expressing what’s going on in his head. It’s a much more expressionistic approach.

In his latest, The River, Tsai contin­

films too complex. But, actually, they are far more accessible than many

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


festivals

indeed very easy to read. Tsai agrees: The River is not slow or difficult.

Once you get used to my style, my films are very easy to understand, and it’s easy to get the symbolic meanings in them. Tsai himself thinks that audiences per­ haps over intellectualize his films:

bye (1996) are similarly dislocated. The movie is only his second to be set fully in the present day. His last fea­ ture, Good Men Good Women, had one contemporary section, but the overrid­ ing aim was to show how earlier events had shaped modern Taiwan, something he achieved by having a

gangsters in modern Taiwan. In spite of Hou’s claim to structural simplicity, it’s actually another timebending work which zips between the different points of view of gang leader Kao and his side-kick, Flathead. What is clear is that none of the characters are having a very good time, and nobody expects to have a very good time in the future: here we are experiencing the despair of a group of little people left behind by the eco­ nomic boom. Hou says the film was a delib­ erate attempt to change his style, in terms of both form and con­ tent. “It’s a more realistic film than my earlier work”, says Hou, “although I wouldn’t say it was totally realistic. I’ve had to introduce some dramatic scenes to make the story work.” The film also looks markedly differ­ ent to his earlier work. Hou is known for his long, static takes, which have often seen him compared to Japanese

I think this film really reflects the life of people today. Everything is jumbled-up in life; you can’t go from one thing to the next. Everything comes at you at once, as it does to Kao [the film's leading character]. “They watch them in a very serious manner”, he says. And, at the heart of them all, the director maintains, is a very simple message: “Love is the important thing. The characters may not be searching for love, but that’s actually what they want to find.” The characters in director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Goodbye, South, Good­ C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998

narrative that wove in and out of dif­ ferent time periods. (Hou says that his earlier contemporary drama, Daughter of the Nile, was a romanticized view of the present, and he seems to count Goodbye as his first proper contempo­ rary story.) Goodbye, South, Goodbye is a fragmented look at the lives of some

master director Yasujiro Ozu. Good­ bye, South, Goodbye sees Hou using a jumpy, hand-held camera.

I chose to use a hand-held camera because I think it is a better way of representing modern life. A set frame is a good technique for films that are set in the past. But the hand-held gives a sense of the speed of modern living. People in modern society don’t stop when they see things; they keep moving. It shows the speed of life today, as well as how busy everyone is. Hou allowed more improvisation on­ set than usual in an attempt to draw a similar energy out of the actors.

I didn’t want to use a complete script. I didn’t plan things. I wanted ideas to come while we were work­ ing. It’s different to before: when we made films about history, we planned to make them as perfect as possible. Goodbye, South, Goodbye is 71

15


postcards

Postcard from Paris from Paul Kalina or the avid cinema-goer, France remains one of the world’s great attrac­ tions. In any given week in Paris, for instance, one can choose from an amazing range of offerings: from latest US stu­ dio films (in both dubbed and subtitled versions), films by major European directors whose work is yet to travel to these shores and the rich output of French directors, whose careers are becoming increasingly difficult to track, let alone see, in Australia. Alain Resnais’ On connaît la Chan­ son has been nominated for 12 Césars and was packing Parisian cinemas in early February. Will it ever be seen here, or will it be remembered as noth­ ing more than a line in the director’s filmography, as is the case of the latest features by Agnès Varda, Eric Rochant, Jacques Doillon, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jean-jacques Beineix, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Philippe Garrel, Mau­ rice Pialat - the list goes on? Then there’s the Vidéothèque de Paris, where for the non-subscriber fee of 30 francs ($6.50) one can view any of the tens of thousands of features, shorts, newsreels, publicity reels and advertisements that have Paris as a subject or setting. For a visitor from Australia, it’s exhilarating but also somewhat desul­ tory, if not outright depressing. Take a

F

16

book like David Thompson’s Biograph­ ical Dictionary of Cinema and just count the number of filmmakers whose work ceased to be seen in Aus­ tralia over the past decade. Australia’s cinema boom continues unabated, but where is the evidence of qualitative improvements in what we get to see, where and how? At UGC’s flagship cinema at Les Halles in the centre of Paris, the analogy of multiplex to airport check-in counter could not be more vivid. Yet how effi­ ciently it works. Above each of the box-office counters (some 14 of them) are television monitors displaying start­ ing times of the 15 or more films screening in the 12-screen complex, along with information on the number of seats available at each particular ses­ sion. The queues move as quickly as Parisian car drivers; think of that next time you’re in a foyer on a busy night. Outside the cinema, too, is a moni­ tor counting the minutes to the start of the session and the feature. Time to have a drink? Just check. Toilets are adjacent to, and entered from, the auditorium; consider this too next time nature calls when you’re inside the cin­ ema at the Jam Factory in Melbourne. At session’s end, one must exit through the door at the front of the auditorium, allowing people entering for the next session to file in from the rear of the cinema. The crush at the

top of the stairs has been eliminated, and what’s more the exit corridor doesn’t deposit one in a urine-infested back alley but in the main foyer of the complex itself. And yet another moment of divine inspiration for a cinema-obsessed nation: courtesy of the mayor of Paris, participating cinemas and media orga­ nizations that promoted the initiative, tickets to all sessions of all Paris cine­ mas for one entire week were reduced to the rock-bottom price of less than $4. One doesn’t need a MBA to project the ‘shot in the arm’ such an initiative has the potential to generate for cin­ ema-going, not to mention the benefits to restaurants, shops and the likes of whoever operates within the region of those cinemas. Another pressing issue that arises, of particular concern to film festivals, and more specialist film-going venues, is that of electronic subtitling devices, such as the so-called ‘Soft-title’ facil­ ity. All of the venues used by the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival, for instance, indeed all major interna­ tional film festival venues, are equipped with this ‘industry-standard’ device, which video projects appropri­ ate subtitles onto a section of the screen beneath the bottom of the film frame. The projector sits on the floor a few metres from the screen. Soft-titling effectively eliminates the need to strike subtitled prints. The benefits for filmmakers, producers and

distributors are obvious: no longer does one need to strike a subtitled print for a handful of screenings at the prestigious Moscow Film Festival, a print that is all but useless after the film has screened in Russian-speaking regions. For the viewer, too, there’s the added bonus of not having the subtitle within the frame of the film. To date, there is no such equip­ ment installed in an Australian cinema. Australian film festivals and specialist screen-exhibition organizations must source English-subtitled prints. Just as well that many non-English-speaking countries make English-subtitled prints of their films as a matter of course (Chinese and Scandinavian films come to mind), and that certain international film festivals continue to make subtitling a condition of entry, thereby fostering an available pool of subtitled prints suitable for festival screenings. Let’s just hope that we’ve caught up with the practice if, or perhaps when, subtitled prints all but vanish from the circuit. Maybe then - and how’s this for a novel thought? - an inspired local programmer could begin the task of catching up with the feast of material we’ve been unable to see until now. Or, instead of being at the mercy of whatever is kicking around the festival circuit, original pro­ grammes can be developed closer to home - as seems to be the case in other parts of the world. © C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


zerOizerO

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introspective

The best of British: Maurice Elvey by Barrie Pattison

O

ne of the lures of last year’s Porde-

overthrows an orthodox pastor’s refusal to bury a non­

none Film Festival (reviewed in the

conformist (scarlet-tinted Biblical story switching from

Whether the subject merited Elvey’s idealization is now of interest onty to the odd thesis writer. The film’s

previous issue) was the chance I’d

Lloyd George to David triumphing over Goliath).

notion of unruly suffragette protestors would be a

been looking for to explore Maurice

Fie debates Randolph Churchill (“The day of the cot­

really hard sell today. However, the fervour of the

Elvey’s careeer further. The 1933

tage-born man has dawned”), backs temperance

director’s admiration still holds an audience genera­

World Film Encyclopaedia’s survey of production puts Sunday drinking, orates five hours to reform against

tions later.

my one-time mentor top of its poll, with more inclu­

increase World War I munitions (“Damn it man, Fritz is

Not all Elvey’s other work can pass this test. Also

sions than Griffith, Von Stroheim and Floward Plawks.

advancing”), introduces age pensions to newly happy

on show were The Rocks ofValpre, of a year later, a

Some of those titles were finally on view. I managed

families and leads his nation.

romance derived from then bestseller writer Ethel M.

to catch them all. The spur to this activity is the recent emergence of

The stucture is unique, a mix of Dickensian biogra­

Dell. A self-sacrificing World War I English patient

phy, silent movie melodrama and simulated

loses the whispy dream love he encountered on the

Elvey’s 1918 The Life Story of David Lloyd George, a

documentary. At times, the imagery is trite: the scene

rugged coast.

biography of the then Liberal Prime Minister, which

where he finds the Prime Minister’s office packed with

Elvey had claimed as his greatest work and was

the see-through spectres of its previous occupants;

Four Feathers author A. E. W. Mason’s At the Villa Rosa, filmed in 1920, in which Norman Page can again

believed lost, never having been screened, after a

the future as breaking waves shown through a pair of

be spotted, was shot on the Riviera, where Elvey

series of events as dramatic as the story itself.

field glasses’ figure-eight mask; even the Verdun

often fled to escape grey British skies. It offers mur­

tableau with spike-hat Huns frozen in acts of brutality

der, spiritualists, a heroine menaced by vitriol and a

quality. Screenings triggered enormous enthusiasm

as troops march behind ruins. However, other cover­

tilted camera car chase (“a race through mountains

and speculation over the reasons for the original sup­

age takes on the look of newsreel.

so far away as to make the car seem to be crawling”).

As the film approached completion, a poltroon journalist on John Bull magazine reported the Ideal Film Co. was run by German-sympathizing German Jews, a claim totally discredited in the subse­ quent libel action. With the controversy, the film appears to have forfeited the support of Lloyd George himself and was confiscated by the government, the producers being paid off with 20,000 pound notes and officials marching off with the original negative, almost ready for the laboratory. It was assumed that all elements of the production had been destroyed three-quarters of a century back but, in 1994, Lloyd George’s grandson became aware of the Wales Film and TV Archive’s interest in his ancestor and asked it to take care of what everyone assumes was Lloyd George - related news footage stored in his Flampshire attic. The archivist was confused to find himself in receipt of costume drama materials and noticed the name Ideal Film Co., triggering recognition of the lost Elvey production - in a largely undamaged condition. Archival lab work ensued, producing an 11-tinted print, approximating the filmmaker’s original vision, in mint

pression. Did Lloyd George fear an elector backlash at

Elvey’s The Flound of the Baskervilles (1921), one of

such a laudatory treatment? Was his involvement

Parliament House material was shot in a studio. Fac­

with social welfare programmes taken as Bolshevik

tory girls dance on the edge of the crowd as Lloyd

low on mood: an unmenacing dog with paint-on jaw

tendencies?

George inspects the munitions plant. Extras, recruited

fire; the plaster Druid’s arch; the film’s Dr Watson

by ads in the local papers, surge across a screen

waiting, pistol raised, as the door opens to reveal

With a back history like this, the film was bound to

his several Sherlock Holmes movies, is surprisingly

get attention. The surprise is that it is not just good,

masked to widescreen proportions, re-staging the

Holmes; and one deerstalker silhouette of Eille Nor­

but outstanding.

Birmingham meeting and riot, from which he had to

wood. Unmemorable actors in drab studio sets.

It is a work of its time, with a frame of reference

escape disguised as a copper. The streets of Carnar­

not all that different from Thomas H. Ince’s lumber­

von fill with a torchlit parade. These barely-edited

ing Civilisation (1916). Childhood and education in a

images are superb and absolutely plausible.

poor Welsh community uses the actual settings, a

Only Norman Page, impeccable in the lead, regis­

Elvey’s 1926 The Flag Lieutenant uneasily mixes theatrical comedy, action and drama among the offi­ cer class. Matinee idol Henry Edwards takes over the suicide mission (“I haven’t a dog’s chance”) when his

device already pioneered by Elvey with his Murder in

ters, though Ernest Thesiger and Alma Reville, then

the Red Barn.

Elvey’s editor and soon to be Mrs Alfred Hitchcock, can

retired Fred, suffering from amnesia, take the glory,

be spotted in the cast. The support take on the quality

only to find himself considered cowardly, unable to

Lloyd George emerges as champion of the under­ dog. Long-forgotten issues surface. As a lawyer, he

18

It is surprising to find that the authentic-looking

friend, Fred Raynham, is injured and lets about-to-be

of real people glimpsed while following the great man. C I N E M A P A P E R S • JUNE 1998


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What do you do when a man turns up and you fancy him, but you are in a wheelchair and the person caring for you fancies him, too, and steals him from under your nose, the bitch, because she isn't in a wheelchair? You try and steal him back, of course.

D ance lo hese, more or less, are the words and thoughts in Heather Rose’s head that pro­ pelled the script for Dance Me to My Song, a film born out of real experiences by Rose her­ self, a woman with cerebral palsy, who speaks only through a voice synthesizer and is depen­ dent on others for most of life’s functions. In the film, Heather Rose has become Julia and she plays the role; indeed, the opening credits call this “A Heather Rose Film” - a significant gesture by director and co-writer Rolf de Heer. The twice-fancied man has become Eddie (John Brumpton), and the bitch of a carer has become Madelaine (Joey Kennedy). Eddie is possibly a little crooked, but there is much to him that’s likeable; Madelaine is lonely and angry, selfish and angry, tempera­ mental and sad. Rolf de Heer is quick to point out, though, that the film is not a biography:

He is also proud of the fact that halfway through the film he perceives Julia quite differ­ ently to how he perceives her at the beginning:

The 30-year rhythms of her life - someone turns up to get you out of bed, wash you, feed you; they go, you’re alone. Someone turns up to make

She’s just Julia, no longer the disabled character

lunch, feed you, clean you up; they go, you’re

any more than Madelaine is the character with

alone. Someone turns up to make you dinner,

brown hair or Eddie is the character with the

feed you, clean you up, put you to bed; they go,

muscular body.

you’re alone - were shattered by the demands of

Not at all; only in the sense that writers use material from their own lives. Madelaine is merely the collection of the worst qualities of the worst carers Heather’s ever had.

It could be seen as a dramatized documentary, since it is Rose herself playing Julia, and her physical or surface life is so intense and she is so obviously handicapped. While he under­ stands that response, de Heer draws a comparison with the first films that used black actors instead of white actors in blackface: I don’t know how it felt emotionally to an audi­

The script was written by de Heer from a treatment by Rose and writer Frederick Stahl, and de Heer was propelled by a wish to see the story in cinematic form:

Somehow through this she had to perform, she had to be a character other than herself, she had to do one of the most difficult possible

I wanted to make the film and see it myself, to go

things for someone with her disability: she had

equivalent. I see the character of Julia on the

on a journey with a drama that’s very different.

to act. It is impossible to overstate the courage

screen and the character of Julia is not at all like

We tend to see people with disabilities as dis­

Heather. It’s a performance, not a recording.

abled first and foremost; I wanted to go behind

ence - 1 wasn’t there - but I think that is the

the obvious to the point that we no longer notice that disability any. more.

Above all, though, de Heer is awed by Rose’s performance through the constraints of her disability. He says it sounded easy enough; she spends most '$ of the film in a wheelchair ¿y which site, does in her normal life anyway. But the reality .i was different: 2 0

the schedule, budget, shoot and story.

of the performance you see on the screen.

A small shot of Julia’s finger activating her voice machine, filmed early in the shoot, took a thousand feet of film, says de Heer, because when at first Rose couldn’t get it right on cue, it became important for her: We had to keep shooting it, even though we could have done something else. But she got more anxious about it and the worse it got, but she had to prove to us she could do this film and so we kept going.

Heather Rose came into contact with de Heer during the making of de Heer’s celebrated drama, Bad Boy Bubby (1994), in which Rose C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1 998


had a tiny part. The experience jolted her: “I was hooked on moviemaking, but I didn’t know where to go.” Rose and Stahl embarked on a script, believing that a film about a woman like Rose could work; but it had to be a dramatic story, not another ‘disability’ film. For her birthday party, Rose invited de Heer, and they talked about the script, but de Heer refused to read it, not wanting to med­ dle in the process. It was sometime later that de Heer did get involved, and he suggested developing the script further. Rose’s confi­ dence was boosted, but not as much as the next stage, when the reality of her playing

Being given the lead role meant so much to me,

We used this because we get very close to her. We

to have Rolf and the others have that much

hear the intense breathing which is a critical part

belief in me was the first time in my life people

of her character. Heather doesn’t speak conven­

were so supportive of me.

tionally, but we still want to catch her personality

Dance Me to My Song was shot in the middle

of 1997 in Adelaide, and brings together de Heer’s collaborators on several previous films: Giuseppe Pedersoli and Domenico Procacci are producers, while David Wolfe-Barry and Paola Corvino serve as co-producers. Tania Nehme, de Heer’s long-time favoured editor, has cut the film, and composer Gra­ ham Tardif has again written the spare but often haunting score; and Beverley Freeman is art director, her fourth film with de Heer.

and her breathing is very present about her.

Tony Clark’s camera was also equipped with twin microphones and, wherever it is point­ ing, binaural sound is recorded. In all, the eight-track soundtrack is the most compli­ cated aspect of the production. But the end result is a dense, dynamic sound with deep perspective, which lifts the dramatic effect, says de Heer. “Some people will find the film confronting.” Confronting, yes, and controversial, too:

Bein9 9iven ike lead role meant so muck to me, to k ave muc kelief in me was ike R d f and ike olkers kave ikal muck first lime in mv life PeoPl e were so suPPorlive of me. Julia was upon her. She wrote some notes on the filming on her voice machine, which was then sub-edited by de Heer. It reflects Rose’s markedly different inner persona to her diminished outer shell:

This is the second film on which de Heer has used binaural sound, which he pioneered on Bad Boy Bubby. This requires two micro­ phones instead of one, both on Rose and on the camera.

one of the most haunting images from the film is the scene when Eddie and Julia he on her bed, embracing, naked beside each other. We are inundated with emotional and intellectual responses that defy simple explanation. ©

Da n c e M e to M y S o n g Vertigo Productions. Director: Rolfde Heer. Producers: Rolf de Heer, Giuseppe Pedersoli, Domenico Procacci. Co-producers: David Wolfe-Barry,

Paola Corvino. Script: Rolfde Heer, Heather Rose, Frederick Stahl. Editor: Tania Nehme. DOP: Tony Clark. Production designer: Beverley Freeman. Composer: Graham Tardif.

Cast: Heather Rose, Joey Kennedy, John Brumpton, Rena Owen, Phil Macpherson, Danny Cowles, Catherine Fitzgerald, international sales: Intra Rims, Rome. 102 mins. C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998

2


erhaps it is multi-talented and iconoclastic filmmaker Baz Luhrmann who best sums up why SBS Independent is regarded as a crucial part of the Austrahan screen production landscape: The Australian imagination is capable of making television that is exciting, different and unique in the world, and SBS Independent plays an important part in making that happen. Luhrmann is not alone in the Australian film and television firmament to openly support SBSI, but, as one who has no commercial need of SBSI, his support is untainted by self-interest. Directors Gillian Armstrong, Bill Bennett, Jane Campion, Chris Noonan, Rachel Perkins and John Poison have all gone on record with their firm support, as have producers Jan Chapman and Tristram Miall. A common thread in their statements of support is captured by Campion’s remark that SBSI “is at the forefront of innovative production, always taking risks and surprising audiences”. Established in 19 9 4 with a grant that would deposit $ 1 million every quarter into its bank account, SBSI was created to support primarily drama production, which SBS itself could not oth­ erwise afford, including low-budget feature films. It was also meant to encourage indigenous film­ makers and those from non-English speaking backgrounds to offer us their stories, explains Brid­ get Ikin, who has run SBSI for the past 18 months, following the departure of founding managing director Andy Lloyd James to the post of Head of Television at the ABC. In its short existence to date ftp- and its existence in the future is still rather uncer­ tain - SBSI has leveraged its $13 million into a production slate worth $60 million, producing 280 hours of television, of which some 10 0 hours has ■

FROM SANO

gone to air, won 55 awards and sold to 40 coun­ tries. These are figures SBSI is proudly repeating over and over again in Canberra, and anywhere else that it matters, in an effort to emphasize its value to Australian screen culture. O f course, that task is made difficult by the fact that there are always those in Canberra who know the price o f everything and the value of nothing, and by the fact that the creation o f SBSI is linked to the previous Government and is thus politically ‘unclean’; one can imagine the narrow-minded taking showers after just thinking about such things. But SBSI easily satisfies the real test of a ‘handout’ outfit: it’s lean, effective and has earned considerable prestige, not to mention a reputation for imaginative and innovative project selection. The SBSI team itself is the facilitator, not the producer, of the projects. The accomplishments of this tight little unit - eight staff, all housed within the confines of an economy-budget, SBS produc­ tion office environment and fully paid for by the SBS broadcaster itself, to the tune o f $2 million emphasize the value of the funding: all of the $13 million is quarantined for production. All of the productions are outsourced and thus create new work and experience opportunities as well as new programme outcomes. “W e’re focusing on young, less experienced filmmakers,” says Ikin, “many of whom get their first exposure with SBSI and many are from nonEnglish speaking or indigenous Australian backgrounds.” Ikin was the producer of F loating Life (Clara Law, 1995), the first feature film in which SBSI’s licence fee for television rights helped to generate its production budget. It was directed by Hong Kong-born Clara Law, and is one of the few foreign-language films made in Australia.1

CELLULOID

For those interested in Australian cinema, 1996’s From Sand to Celluloid series of short films by Aboriginal filmmakers was a revelation.1 Fortunately, the Australian Film Commission-SBS Independent initiative has been extended, and Shifting Sands: From Sand to Celluloid Continued ... is the spectacular result.

TEARS Produced and developed in association with the Indige­ nous Branch, Australian Film Commission. Produced and developed in association with SBS Independent. Super­ vising producers: Graeme Issak, Pauline Clague (Indigenous Branch, Australian Film Commission). Commissioning Editor, SBS Independent: Bridget Ikin.2 © 1997 Ivan Sen, Australian Film Commission, New South Wales Film and Television Office. Produced in association with Autumn Films. Produced with finance and assistance from the New South Wales Film and TV Office. Director: Ivan Sen. Producer: Teresa-Jayne Hanlon.

22

“W ith that experience I recog- I nized a culture within SBSI that I respected, and I saw that it was nurturing exactly the sorts of films I’d like to make”, says Ikin. That is why, when some time later the vacancy came up to lead SBSI, Ikin put her hand up. She believes SBSI has an obligation to take risks: It’s our Imperative. And when you have that sort of an environment, you can make adventurous decisions, on issues to do with the length of episodes, or the ; content and certainly the structure of a television > series. We’re not bound by any formula. And we’re , not driven by commercial imperatives, so we are morij open to new ideas. We have such little tradition of local drama production at SBS that we can feel free to create it. When asked whether she ever had a sense of fear about any of the projects with which SBSI went ahead, Ikin is adamant:

4

TINUED

• m

BY SCOTT MURRAY Scriptwriter: Ivan Sen. DOP: Allan Collins. Production designer: Pete Baxter. Costume designer: Pete Baxter. Editor: Karen Johnson. Composers: Ivan Sen, Alister Spence. Sound recordist: Kuji Jenkins. Sound designer: John Salter. Mixer: Oliver Junker. Cast: Luke Carroll (Vaughn), Jamila Frail (Lena), David Campbell (Friend/Driver), Trevor Hunt (Passenger), Anita Fernando (Young Mother), Theresa Shields (Baby). Tears is one of the most hauntingly sad films made in Australia ... and one of the best. It tells of a teenage cou­ ple as they walk from their northern mission station to a bus stop, and await a new life with the girl’s father, who perhaps doesn’t know they are coming and who proba­ bly doesn’t care anyway. The tension of their journey is palpable, Vaughn (Luke Carroll) torn between escaping the pain of his present life and fearful of abandoning it for the unknown, Lena C I N E M A PAPERS

JUNE 1998


BY ANDREW L. URBAN

I feel passionately about all of them or I wouldn’t be doing them. No, I feel no fear. We’re in a unique situa­ tion: SBS encourages us to make choices on quality.

Perhaps the track record of awards and festival invitations can speak for itself, but it is instructive to glance at the projects that have so far come out of the SBSI process. Features such as The Quiet Room (Rolf de Fleer, 1997) and The Boys (Rowan Woods) - the former invited to Cannes, the latter to Berlin for prestige festival premieres - symbolize the value of SBSI in the context of Australian screen culture, but also as socially valuable com­ ment. Short dramas like those in the series From Sand to Celluloid clearly pioneered a whole stream of Aboriginal storytelling that is now being devel­ oped further (in Shifting Sands, see below), and which quite possibly will identify enormous new pools of talent in storytelling for the screen. The focus on drama production should not overshadow the achievements in documentary and

short films. Among the many award-winning pro­ jects, Demons at Drivetime, about talkback radio hosts, won the 1996 Dendy Award as Best Docu­ mentary at the Sydney Film Festival; in the same year, The Raid was a finalist in the same category. The following year, Colour Bars was Highly Rec­ ommended in the Dendy Awards. In 1997, Exile in Sarajevo won the AFI Award as Best Documentary. Five of the six shorts in the Sand to Celluloid series won awards and/or were selected for prestige screenings at leading festivals, from Venice to Oberhausen. The subjects that its documentaries tackle are as varied as the style in which the stories are told: the story of belly-dancing; the world of the deaf; China through the eyes of two young Chinese fashion designers; a woman lawyer becoming a Rabbi; conversations about the mean­ ing of life in the Flinders Ranges between Paul Davies and Phillip Adams; the story of Blanche d’Alpuget; the art of tracking - these are a few of the topics covered. SBSI is in many ways a pioneer, with all the agony and ecstasy that involves. It has just hits its stride. “Three years is nothing in the context of an organization set up to deliver substantial work”, comments Ikin.

there was not a pool of projects ideal for it to access: With every new organization, it takes a while for peo­ ple to understand what you’re after, but now I see that producers are conceiving projects with us in mind, and that’s really exciting.

This augurs well for the future ... if there is one. As the last $1 million of the $13 million pops up in the SBSI account, there is no sense of confidence about ongoing Government support. Not that Government can be displeased. On the contrary. “In terms of bangs for bucks, SBSI is exceptional”, according to Tristram Miall. Newly-appointed Managing Director Nigel Milan sees SBSI as probably the single-most important thing we do, in that it is part of how we are evolving. For us to be part of a multicultural future, we have to make pro­ grammes about multicultural Australia and we can’t do that without SBS Independent. It is crucial to fulfill­ ing our charter. 1 SBSI and others say it is the first, but they forget Luigi Zampa’s feature-length Bello Onesto Emigrato Australia Sposerebbe Compaesana Illibata (Girl in Australia, 1972), let alone several short features.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew L. Urban is the creator of the SBS TV weekly programme, Front Up; he is the man with the microphone in every show. Front Up is a pro­

In some cases, we’ve made a decision to invest, say,

duction of SBS Television and is not in receipt of any

in a feature film, which takes another year to fully

financial assistance or any other benefit from SBSI.

finance. Then the best part of another year for the

(Front Up was launched before SBSI was created in

production and post-production and launch. Then the

1994.) Urban is a regular contributor to Cinema Papers,

theatrical and video release takes another year. It’s

which commissioned the article in the normal course of

not instant. Nor is it instamatic.

journalistic practice. Urban unequivocally declares that

While Ikin believes that SBSI was “elegantly set up within the jigsaw of funding systems in Australia”,

he stands to gain no benefit from any point of view he

(lamila Frail) fixedly moving on from a world the film hints

never will be. Her pathetic attempt to repeat this

(with the twist of a car mirror) has been filled with terror.

face-painting in the mission bathroom finds no under­

may have, or may be seen to have, in this article.

much more weight than the sparse words - this is a dev­

closer to an Aboriginal oneness. The end comes with a

astating evocation of a near-crippling sadness and a

moment of true Bressonian stasis, an image that

line producer: Gil McFintay. Scriptwriter: Mark Olive. Based on an original story by Janice Slater Herring. DOP: Tristan Milani. Production designer: Luigi Pittorino. Edi­ tor: Frans Vandenburg. Composers: David Page, Stephen Francis. Sound recordist: Andrew Belletty. Mixer: Gethin Creagh. Cast: Margaret Harvey (Margie), Luke Elliott (Char­

flickering will to carry on.

promises to haunt for a long time to come.

lie), Shannon Pender (Shannon), Janaya Pender

Stunningly visual, with rarely a rhythmic falter, and superbly acted by the two teenage leads - yet again in

standing from a perplexed Nun (Sylvia Merrick). The girl continues through the landscape, an eerie

an Aboriginal film, the silences and gestures carry so

figure fleeing a repressive white-run past and drawing

(Janaya), Bruce Olive (Bert), Gnarnayarrahe Waitarie (Sam), Justine Saunders (Aida), Llania Fender (Young

MY COLOUR.YOUR KINO

Margie). Margie (Margaret Harvey) travels with husband Char­

©1998 Caama Productions Pty Ltd.

lie (Luke Elliott) and two children back to the place from

Director: Danielle MacLean. Producer: Steven McGregor. Line producer: Priscilla Collins. Executive producers (Caama Productions): Matthew Flanagan, David Jewesy. Scriptwriter: Danielle MacLean. DOP: Alan Collins. Pro­ duction designer: Catherine Manelli. Costume designer: Catherine Manelli. Editor: Nicolas Lee. Composers: David Bridle, John Phillips. Sound recordist: Andrew Belletty. Sound designer: Livia Ruzic. Mixer: Scott Fleming. Cast: Melissa Middleton (Albino Girl), Christine

where she came, before she was “fostered out down south”. When they stop in small silo town, Charlie fills the car with petrol and Margie strolls across the road to chat with two blackfellas, Bert (Bruce Olive) and Sam (Gnar­ nayarrahe Waitarie). Sam insists on Margie staying on, because this is her land, uttering the ominous, “Land here claims its own.” And so it appears to do when Margie’s earlier dream of rain appears to become a

Palmer (Mother), Rob Wenske (Truck Driver), Sylvia Mer­

ghostly reality.

rick (Nun). Here again is a journey through and to uncertainty. An Aboriginal Albino Girl (Melissa Middleton) escapes from a severe Catholic mission to trek barefoot in a nightie across the outback. Along the way, she remembers her face being

This enigmatic and tense film asks, perhaps a touch unwisely at times, to suspend one’s b elief- as when the

PASSING THROUGH

© 1998 Green Island Films and for Australian Film Com­

audience immediately interprets Ben and Sam as spirits, but the Aboriginal Margie talks to them without realizing who they are. Visually striking, and beautifully acted by the leads -

painted brown with mud by Mother (Christine Palmer),

mission and New South Wales Film and Television

as if Mother is trying to make the girl’s skin match the

Office. Produced with finance assistance from the New

especially Margaret Harvey, whom one longs to see in a

colour of her soul. Of course, to the white nuns, her light

South Wales Film and TV Office.

feature lead given her natural, charismatic presence - this

skin makes her seem one of them, but she is not, and C I N E M A P A P E R S • JUNE 1998

Director: Mark Olive. Producer: Helen Lovelock. AFC

film entrances, even if it leaves perhaps too many riddles.

23


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* Paradise

Road


EclipIpFilms, AustraliamFilm Commision, Andyinc, New South Wales Flm,abd??|lpvision Office, SBS Indepen­ dent, TheiPremitJin^b^ie3 .artnership for^Showtime Australia,ancfj|>anna Baevsl|i8t Michael Myer present _ RADIAN^meations^Aghes Water,-Childers, Bund- ab,ergtri3'JHewey;|afM0cmins. . p/fecio^Rachel'Perkins. Producers: Ned Lander, iphdrew M y e p ^ ^ c ia te producer: Louis Nowra. Co-pfoI ^u^^Jenny'Day; Scriptwriter. Loius Nowra.'Based on jillsipl^y, DOP: WarwickThornton. Production dewigner: ¡jSlrah Stollman. Costume designer: Tess Schofield. EdiZtqn James‘Brad ley. Composer: Alistair \ones.Sound recordist: Bfonwyn Murphy: Sound supervision. Tony 'y||ehdK John Dennison.

Fathered by three different ■ men, the||is:ters are as unlike as, s[bling^£an beifThe pregnant and footlooseiNona is seen as a.slut like their mother; GjiesSy is^a successful opera singer who hasistayéd far away from family and home, and whose cool exterior hides a spirit.wantingTb.cutfree; vyhile”Mae stayed ^ home.àpd lopkedjafter mother, her­ metically sealed in a world of repression and bitterness. Their separate journeys clash and merge. Radiance ìs-the sècondTeatu redicgeted by an Abo­ riginal, following Tracey-Moffatt’sIbreakthrQiigh BeDevil '(19,93). Basej±,on1:he pla*y by Louis Nowra;4t fits a tradi­ tion of such Australian family-gathering films as Hotel

>s^Ga'st: Deborah Mailman (Nona), Trisha Mortonfi/Thomas (Mae), RachfeLMaza (Cressy), Russell Kiefel?' ^(Fathfer Doyle), Ben Qxenbould(The Barman). < Rachel jerkins’ Radiance tells ohthtee ‘listers) |g j§ |*Npb,a||Deborah Mailman), Mag (Trisha Morton-Thomas) -and Cre^s^(RacheLMaJf|- who gatherfgtthe near-“/ dereticfefamity home onThb Queghslandf&ast.

Sorrento (Richard Franklin, 1995), Return Home (Ray Argali, 1990) and Relatives {Anthony Bowman, 1985). Here, understandably, the emphasis is different: land rights and forcdd displacement (a Japanese resort now dominates the island from which the mother was relo­ cated); tense sexual and inter-racial relationships; and representations of black (female) identity: Unlike many.a;filmed play, Radiance is glowingly cin­ ematic, shot by Warwick Thornton, director of the haunting Payback from From Sand to Celluloid. From the striking crippled house by the sea (again production designer Sarah Stollmanfs work shines) to the endless pier leading out across the mud flats towards the island, from the ear. careening across the m0notonous flatness), to. the intricate plays of lightand dark, this film res onates with mood-rieh imagery. • Like the best work of fellow Aboriginal filmmakers jn . f j /;om Sand to C elluloid and S hifting Sands: From Sand ■ td C e llu lo id C ontinued ..., the truest momentsTiefe are") itear wordless ones, where emotions are unspoken but deeply felt, where gestures and eyes speak volumes. The greatest and most-welcome evolution of 1990s Australian cinema has been the emergen» ^ of the Aho riginal cinematic voice, and Radiance is another poetic and mueh-needed utterance.^.

gel Màza) JshirMorton

'(¡¡ance

PROMISE

Core Original Productions presents A Blackfella Love Story [/] PROMISE. © 1997 Core Original Productions Pty Ltd, Australian Film Commission and Screenwest. Pro­ duced with the assistance of Screenwest and the Lotteries Commission of Western Australia. Director: Mitch Torres. Producer: Pauline Clague. Line producer: Gill McKinlay. Scriptwriter: Mitch Torres. DOP: WarwickThornton. Production designer: Daran Fulham. Editor: Melanie Sandford. Composer: Rima Tamou. Sound designer: Andrew Belletty. Sound recordist: Andrew Belletty. Cast: Sylvia Clarke (Gilladi), Ali Torres (Nganyamia), Rhanre Lee (Young Boy), Sabrina Sabaan (Young Gilladi), Robert Watson (Waamba), Annie Watson (Auntie). As Nganyamia (Ali Torres) prepares a loaf of damper, her grandmother Gilladi (Sylvia Clarke) reflects on her waamba (Robert Watson). Gilladi had been promised to her husband long before her birth. As she says to Nganyamia; love doesn’t come into it: “What that word ‘love’? Horrible word, stupid one. Don’t think that right word, that one. Maybe ‘good feeling’.” As Nganyamia takes the damper from the oven, Gilladi explains the tradition of placing a slice wrapped in cloth by one’s side. That way, one’s waamba “will sit by you”. And, at film’s end, her husband long dead, Gilladi goes outside with some damper to draw his spirit to her. At that moment, she sees a young boy rolling a can with a stick, and laughs. Co-existing with the dead and the living is a ,natural thing.

Promise is very much a paean to Aboriginal marital tradition. Though life was hard, and her husband a stern, cold man, Gilladi responds to her granddaughter’s “Do you miss Popa, Gran?”, with “Yeah. I miss him prop­ erly. He was my good mate.” At first viewing this gentle, touching film may seen slight, too simple, but it resonates in the memory and its tone enriches and nourishes.

MV BED. YOUR BED

© 1998 Chili Films Pty Ltd and Australian Film Commis­ sion. Produced and developed in association with the Indigenous Branch Australian Film Commission. Pro­ duced in association with SBS Independent. A Birds Eye View from Chili Films. Director: Erica Glynn. Producer: Penny McDonald. AFC Line Producer: Gill McKinley. Scriptwriter: Erica Glynn. DOP: WarwickThornton. Production designer: Daran Fulham. Wardrobe: Teresa Cooke. Editor: Dany Cooper. Sound designer: Sion Tommes. Sound recordist: Andrew Belletty. Mixer: Martin Oswin. Cast: Urshula Yovich (Della), Trevor Jamieson (Alvin). In Promise, when Gilladi meets her waamba, she runs away in fright. The film then skips how their relationship starts. My Bed Your Bed fills in a similar story. Around a campfire at night, a young girl is told by a female elder who is to be her waamba. Many years later, Della (Urshula Yovich) is driven to a government settle­ ment, where she meets Alvin (Trevor Jamieson), whom one presumes is her waamba. In total silence, over a period of days, if not weeks, there is a ballet of coming to terms with the future. Della drags her bedroll next to his, then drags it away. He does the same. They change rooms, they try the same one, a touch is rebuffed. Finally, a moment of decision: a bedroll left in a corridor and a step forward into a shared life. This minimalist film may seem slow to some, but to others it will be quite hypnotic, its cinematic victory, as with most of the films in these two dazzling series, is finding a way without words to delineate deep emo­ tional states and tell profound truths.

Unfortunately, Shifting Sands’ distributor, the AFI, was unable to make available a copy of the fifth part of the compilation. For the record, reproduced below are the credits and synopsis from the press kit:

GRACE

Director: Wesley Enoch. Producers: Owen Johnston, Justin Malbon. Scriptwriter: Wesley Enoch. DOP: Bren­ dan Williams. Production designer: Glenn James. Editor: David Huggett. Composer: David Page. Sound recordist: Paul Jones. Mixer: John Willsteed. Cast: Justine Saunders (Grace), Roxanne McDonald (Loretta), Wayne Blair (Tattoo), Binowee Bayles (Young Piety). Minya Bayles (Young Grace). Grace (Justine Saunders) now lives a comfortable life in a nice house with her family. It is a far cry from the dramas of mission life which she fled years ago. However, she must return for the funeral of her sister, where she is confronted by the family she never met, a past she had long forgotten and the spirit of her country. © 1 See Archie Weller [and Scott Murray], “Living in a Storm”, Cinema Papers, no. 111, August 1996,. pp. 54- 72 These credits are on every film. The credits below represent what is particular to each film, without repeating what is given here.

25


¡BASED ON A N O V B |; ||p H R IS T O T S IO L K A S , H E ^ ^ ^ J l l T A l i l f 2 4 H 0 U R S IN j H w E 17-Y E A R -O LD G RE^ M Y AS HE G R A P P LE S W ITH'^ B M I n T IT Y A N D S E X U A LIT Y . T H ^ ^ p IS TH E FIR S T FEA TU R E OF A N il^ fe K K IN O S , W HOSE 5 0 -M IN U T E C ^ A M A ONLY TH E BRAVE W j f H K l D ' A S ONE OF TH E M O S T l ^ ^ i C I O U S D EB U TS IN R E ^ ^ f t E A R S . DIRECTO R A N D C O -W R ITE R A N A K O K K IN O S, C O -W R ITE R S A N D R E W B O VELL A N D M IR A R O B ER TSO N , A N D PR O D U C ER J A N E SCOTT TALK TO A N D R E W L .- U lf “ “ A B O U T T H E IR C O LL^B Q R A j A N D TH E G ENESIS OF T H IS T A N D C O N FR O N TIN G F B

77

t e

How DO YOU THINK THOSE WHO HAVE READ TSIOLKAS’ n o vel,

L o a d e d , w il l

r e a c t t o t h e f il m ?

Kokkinos: What we have tried to do collectively is

capture the essence of the book and try and find some filmic expression of it. They are different medi­ ums and, if you are goingto see a film, there is an expectation that it is filmic, that it has been adapted and dramatized in some way. I don’t think people will be disappointed. In some ways, what they will experience is the essence of the book in film form. Wa s

y o u r m a in m o t iv a t io n fo r f il m in g t h e b o o k

THE CHARACTER OF ARI? Kokkinos: Yes. Ari is such a compelling character and what we have tried to do is capture, to dramatize, his emotional journey. And I think that is what we have achieved. It is 24 hours in the life of a young working-class man who is Greek. He is confused and grappling with all kinds of issues as a young person. His journey is about wanting to explore the world, explore his iden­ tity, but at the same time not wanting to be constrained by conventions and boundaries placed on him. In the film, you get the strong sense of Ari as a young man who rejects conventions and is trying to be true to himself. A na, you

w r o t e t h e s c r ip t in c o l l a b o r a t io n w it h

t w o w r it e r s ,

A n drew Bo v ell

and

M ir a R o b e r t s o n .

How DID THE IDEA OF COLLABORATION COME UP? Kokkinos: Because, as a director, I really enjoy collab­ orating with other writers. It always makes the work better. Mira and I had had the experience of collaborating on Only the Brave, and that was a very successful and fruitful partnership. For this project, I met Andrew and felt that he was someone I was interested in working with. I felt that a collaboration - a three-way collaboration, as it turned out - would be a really interesting way to approach what was a very difficult book to adapt, because of the way it was written. I was very clear about a collab­ oration and it was just a question of getting a team of writers who were as interested in, and passionate about, the subject matter as I was. A n drew , n a ted

w h a t w a s it a b o u t

Lo a d ed

t h a t f a s c i­

YOU IN TERMS OF TURNING IT INTO A SCRIPT?

^ovell: My first point of connection was seeing Only

Brave. I’d been engaged by it and came away (king, “There is an interesting filmmaker.” So, in the opportunity came up to work with Ana, I pretty keen. rwas also blown away by the book, by its emotional velocity. I’m n (Greek and ted in lUtsideJM the expet^M Greek Austogjffress uld really the fk ^Ana was yqfl ing process, which s h J If I know whatever felt. We h^wrscuswere a ive a t ^ ^ ^ u if trust: ■ rre seeingne. Yes, we are ially affectec a r ways.” Atthe outset, we had quite different ideas about the approach, but I felt so strongly about Ana’s and Mira’s connection to the work that I trusted the fact that we could start at different points but arrive some­ where interesting. M ir a ,

do y o u h a v e a n y

Greek

c o n n e c t io n s , o r a r e

y o u t h e o u t s id e r ?

27


R obertson: The outsider! But having

roller-coaster ride of the 24 hours and

that we did reject. I don’t think that

THETIC. F or

THAT IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE.

worked with Ana before, and knowing

put the audience into a position of hav­

would have been true to the spirit of

Ana well, I felt that was my entry into

ing to experience it with Ari.

the book.

the Greek part of it. For me, there was a lot about the

a

FILM, I SUSPECT

K okkinos: It was a central Issue,

R obertson: Rather than Ari thinking

Wa s

and talking as he does in the book, he

WRITER OF THE NOVEL?

t h e r e a n y in p u t b y

C h r is t o s , t h e

and the film stands or falls on It. We always knew that if Ari weren’t a compelling character,

wildness of that young man’s story

acts and interacts in the film. Things

K okkinos: Not in the actual writing

that I connected to. The great thing

happen and he is very much instru­

process, though he did read each draft

and didn’t have an extraordinary

about the book, and I think about the

mental in that. We learn about him,

and give us comments.

screen presence, we wouldn’t

film, is that it is incredibly particular,

and we get that story, through those

We were very blessed to have some­

have a film, basically. But there were two things: the first is that

but totally universal. Out of particular­

interactions and the actions. So, it is

one like Christos who, from the

ity comes the universal story. While I’m

dramatized.

beginning, said, “I’m prepared to let

we found Ari and his journey

not a gay Greek boy, I still felt there

Bovell: I think we raise the stakes, too.

this go. I understand the difference

through the screenplay. The

were so many things there that spoke

The book was 24 hours in the life of a

between a book and what you need to

second is that we found Alex

to me.

Greek boy. The film is 24 hours in a life

do as a filmmaker.” He gave us total

[Dimitriades].

of a Greek boy that takes him to a clear

freedom and total support throughout

TO WHAT EXTENT WAS THE COLLABORA­ TIVE PROCESS ONE OF WORKING OFF A

turning-point. There is a sense in the

the writing process.

FIRST DRAFT?

film that this could have been a num­

Robertson: And great feedback.

the three of us were quite intimately involved from the beginning. The first draft for me was very much about circling around ideas, around the kinds of films we could make based on the material. There was a lot of negotiation until we arrived at a sin­ gular vision. Mira came in at a really crucial point at the commencement of the second draft, with a new energy which got us up and going again.

loved the book and he loved the screenplay. It was the collabora­

Bovell: Ana and I undertook the first

draft, and Mira was script editor. So

Alex and I met and there was an immediate connection. He

We were very blessed to have someone like Christos who, from the beginning, said, "I'm prepared to let th is go.

I understand the difference between a book and what you need to do as a filmmaker."

tion between he and I that really makes the film. I think Alex gives an extraordinary perfor­ mance. A lex the

is s o m e w h a t o l d e r th a n

17 - y e a r - o ld A ri

book.

Was

in t h e

t h a t an is s u e ?

Kokkinos: Only a titch. He is not

that much olderthan the char­ acter, actually. When Alex read the script and the book, he felt so close to the character on alt kinds of levels. YOU HAD AN UNUSUALLY LONG

What was interesting in the process

SIX-WEEK REHEARSAL PERIOD.

was that our roles kept changing. Two

ber of 24 hours, that this is the way

D id

of us would be going in different direc­

this man lives his life. There is a sense

BOOK?

tions and it became the third person’s

that this 24 hours is significant. He has

Kokkinos: Most of them had read i t ...

Kokkinos: It was extremely

role to take the best of both and unify

faced particular questions and he is

or, when they had heard that we were

important to explore the text

going to take another direction.

in the process of adapting it, rushed

and have time with the actors to

out and bought a copy.

do that.

it all, giving us the new way forward. Le t

m e r etu r n to t h e f ir s t q u e s t io n

I n THE BOOK, ONE IS LEFT WITH ARl’S

AND ASK IT ANOTHER WAY: WHAT ARE

STARING AT THE CEILING. IN THE FILM

THE CRUCIAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE

YOU CAN’T DO THAT, l SUSPECT.

yo u w a n t t h e c a s t to r ea d th e

HOW IMPORTANT WAS THAT?

It wasn’t a pre-requisite at all, but in

It was a fun time and built an

the end most of the cast read it. Some

ensemble, which was incredibly

Kokkinos: You are absolutely right!

weren’t interested because they

important for this film. If you

K okkinos: The book is very much a

Bovell: It’s not the best option!

wanted to come to it fresh.

piece of literature, almost an interior

R obertson: Although we’ve held very

monologue. What we tried to do with

true to the spirit of the book, and I

K okkinos: It didn’t matter at all,

you an opportunity to explore

the film is capture a sense and a feel of

think you’ll be surprised at how true

because in a lot of ways, once the

things around and inside the

that, but make it a totally exterior

we’ve held to it, the idea of turning it

script was finished, that was our text. If

text. At the end of the day, that

experience. We wanted to capture that

into a story of redemption was one

people felt compelled to read the

means you get more interesting

book, or felt that it would helpful to

screen performances.

BOOK AND FILM?

Johnny (Paul Capsis).

Head On.

D id

t h a t m a t t e r to y o u ?

them, then I suggested they dig into it. A WELL-KNOWN FILMMAKING ADAGE HAS

have two characters in, say, a father-son relationship, it gives

It was a pretty organic process. We would do things like improvizations

IT THAT ONE MAKES A FILM THREE TIMES:

and work around the text in a way

AS YOU WRITE IT, AS YOU MAKE IT AND

which meant that you can explore what

WHEN YOU EDIT IT. WAS THAT TRUE IN

it means, for example, to be 20, Greek

THIS CASE?

and have a father who is 45.

Kokkinos: Urn ... no ... yes ... I don’t

Because this film has a range of

know. It depends on how you work as

actors from non-Anglo backgrounds,

a director. For me, the editing process

we had a very broad range of experi­

was interesting because it got the best

ence. Part of the rehearsal process was

out of what we had actually con­

taking on the responsibility of helping

structed in the filming.

train people up, to give them the skills

Bovell: This is one of the few projects

they needed to do what was going to

where I’ve watched rushes, and looked

be asked of them. We had a young

at the final product, and felt “That is

Lebanese boy, for example, who had

what was on the page, but this is

never done any acting before and he

more.” Usually the experience is, “Oh,

needed time to learn the ropes!

well, that is great, but it is not every­

Scott: We would have required a

thing that is on the page.” There is a

longer shooting period [than the

sense of the compromise and a sense

actual six weeks] to get anything like

of loss that a writer endures in this

the performances we got.

very collaborative process.

Kokkinos: So, in fact, it is cost-effi­

In

th e bo o k,

A ri

is n o t h u g e l y s y m p a -

cient, because when you get on set C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


everyone already knows what they are doing. Bovell: When you are asking actors like Alex to take the kind of risks you are, in terms of the degree of intimacy expected from him, then not having forged an intimate relationship before­ hand would create problems on set. YOU HAVE SPOKEN ABOUT ARI BEING A Greek story. as an

an d the

Is

it a

Greekness

Greek

A u s t r a l ia n

of the

sto ry as m uch

story?

Kokkinos: It is very much an Australian story, there is no doubt about it, but it is also a story that recognizes the kind of diversity and pluralism that exist here. So it is a Greek-Australian story. It is absolutely particular in terms of where it is coming from, but it is an Australian story that actually has a par­ ticular perspective, enriched by a lot of other things that people will recognize and understand. They will have access to things they haven’t had before. C I N E M A P A P E R S • JUNE 1998

Bovell: It is a culturally-specific con­ text, but the experiences that Ari is going through transcend that, leap out of it and draw everyone in - like about being young, about having parents ... T here

is a lo t o f v e r y g r a p h ic s e x u a l

ACTIVITY IN THE BOOK. HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH THAT?

Kokkinos: We don’t shy away from the sex at all. Bovell: It is a sexy film. Kokkinos: There is a lot of sex and the way we have handled it is discreetly... but also in your face. That may sound like a contradiction. It

d o e s a b it .

Kokkinos: You get a strong sense of the sex, but it is handled in a way which is to do with the emotional con­ text. Sex is not divorced from the drama of what is actually happening to Ari, so each sexual interaction means something different. We don’t shy away from the sex; it is


an integral part of Ari’s make-up and where he is at.

7~A e

P io d u c

As A PRODUCER, YOU HAD OTHER

IS THERE ANY HUMOUR IN THE FILM, LIKE

Ana,

IN THE BOOK?

Scott?

RESPONSIBILITIES AND CONSIDERATIONS

Kokkinos: Yes. Is t h e r e a s t o r y

TO BRING TO THE PROJECT, NAMELY THE

Robertson: There are some great moments of humour in the script, which Ana has translated superbly. Bovell: Johnny is a great source of humour. That relationship between Johnny and Ari in the book is so special that you feel quite honoured to be able to take that to screen. Johnny is a transvestite, who has recently come to a very clear and strong position that this is how he is going to live his life. He is a counter­ point to Ari. He has made very strong, real and courageous decisions, whereas Ari is all about not declaring himself, keeping secrets, living life in the shadows, and legitimizing that as a choice. So, they are two different responses to their sexuality, but they also have this incredible bond that you sense in the film, just as you can sense it in the book through the back story. It goes back a long way. They are both outsiders, not only because they are gay but because they are Greek men and neither of them is related to the models of Greek masculinity that are very clearly held, and which Jo, Ari’s other friend, clearly represents. They have been through heaps these two, and Johnny has been a bit of a role model for Ari - a role model in terms of standing up to the incredibly powerful forces within the Greek comm unity-orany community-which say, “You must live your life this way, and there is only one way to do it.”

y o u t o o k t h e s c r ip t t o

Ja n e

it. That depth has oozed through the simplicity of the screenplay.

a b o u t t h is ?

[Everyone laughs.] Kokkinos: It is unprintable. We can’t tell you! Except, yes, I did take the script to Jane. I’d heard about Jane and her involvement with other projects and the word was good. I was very keen to see whether or not she was interested. Ja n e ,

w h a t w e r e y o u r r e a s o n s for

BEING INTERESTED?

Scott: We’ll come to the unprintable thing in a moment. I’m very wary of book adaptations, but I didn’t read the book first. I read the script first, saw Ana’s film, Only the Brave, and then I met her. The script came across to me very, very powerfully and I felt that it was

COMMERCIAL ONES. HOW DID YOU FEEL THE FILM WOULD APPEAL, AT SCRIPT STAGE, TO DISTRIBUTORS?

Scott: I was anxious about the distribu­ tors, yes, but already Southern Star [international sales agent] was very involved and had been through the scriptwriting process with development finance. It was intriguing to contemplate how distributors would handle it, but I do feel very strongly that there is an audience for this film. The directness of the mater­ ial is something that will attract the audience - and a very wide audience. 1don’t have any problem with sex. It is something that we are all fascinated with anyway, and I’d much rather be

D id

y o u h a v e a n y in p u t d u r in g t h e

WRITING?

Scott: They came to me with two or three different endings and we talked about them, but I did what I always like to do, which is to turn it back on Ana to make the decision with the others. What I’ve tried to do throughout this whole film is to make the climate in which this film can be made in the very best way it can, to provide the freedom for that to happen. HOW DID YOU FIRST PITCH THE FILM TO OTHERS?

Scott: With the local distributors, that was an agonizing process, but South­ ern Star was already involved. T hey

w e r e in v o l v e d w it h y o u ,

Ana?

Kokkinos: Yes. We gave them the book and Robyn Watts [Chief Executive, Southern Star Sales] read it. We then had a talk about how we were going set it up and what we were planning to Ari and Betty (Elena Mandafis). Head On.

HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT CASTING Jo h n n y ?

Kokkinos: We cast for six months. Paul Capsis came to us because I knew him through his cabaret work in Sydney. Initially, I was interested in talking to him mainly from the point of view of research, and Paul happened to be in Melbourne around the time that I was casting. When I met him, I thought, “Hell, this is Johnny.” W hy?

Kokkinos: Because Paul is male/female all rolled into one. He just embodies that incredible male/female dual sexuality. IS HE ACTUALLY TRANSSEXUAL?

Kokkinos: No. He is androgynous. He has a very particular feel for himself, because he doesn’t dress in women’s clothes when he performs; he actually dresses in androgynous clothes and performs the songs of women. So it is a very interesting mix. Paul had an unusual take on the whole cross-dressing thing, but in a lot of ways he just related to the character very strongly and understood it. It was instinctive when I met him that he was clearly the one to play it.

30

something quite different to anything I had thought of doing next [after Shine]. It had enormous truth and honesty in it, and dealt with an incredibly com­ pelling character. I felt that what Ari was going through was what we all, in some way, at some time in our lives, go through - though not always to

dealing with a film handling confronting sex than confronting violence. So, from the start, I felt that there was a great film to be made that would have tremendous interest. I will tell you now the unprintable story. I have heard Ana telling the cast this, because they were fascinated as to

such an extent. When I saw Ana’s previous film, I realized that this was a progression. Then, when I met her, she was just wonderfully charming and honest. I felt she was absolutely bound to this material and would be able to pull it off. It is a hunch thing in many ways. I read the book later, and it was of secondary importance to me really, except that I think that it is crucial to have the book behind the script because it does what Andrew says: it provides the depth that Ana has been able to explore when she was filming

why I was interested in this material. She told them that when we first met I said to her that I was fascinated in any script where the first line of dialogue is “Show us your cunt!” [Everyone laughs.] D id

y o u f e e l t h a t t h is w a s a f il m

THAT YOU HAD TO MAKE?

Scott: Yes. I really hoped that Ana was going to provide me with the belief that she was going to pull off the script that I was reading. There is always a fear when you read something that it is far away from what the director has in mind. But this was a very close and personal piece for Ana, and for the other writers.

do. She liked what she heard and assisted us with script development. Southern Star was terrific in that it pretty much provided development money for us all the way through. Ja n e ,

d id y o u m a k e a v e r b a l p it c h t o

ANYONE AND, IF SO, HOW YOU DID IT?

Scott: It was a pitch to a number of domestic distributors. It was much along the lines of what we are saying now, trying to sound totally convincing that this is going to be a very successful film! There was a degree of interest and it was a matter of patching together the people who would provide the budget collectively for the film. YOU ENDED UP WITH THE MELBOURNEbased

P a l a c e F il m s

T a it B r a d y . D id

a n d d e a l t w it h

he tell y o u w h a t

APPEALED TO HIM?

Scott: No, he hasn’t actually said what interested him. I think he agonized somewhat over the material and ^ 7 2 C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


QUINZAINE

THE I NT E R V I E W PREMIERING

AT

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Premiere Screening: By Invitation Only Market Screenings: 19 May 15:30, Ambassades 6 20 May 11:30, Ambassades 4 W riters CRAIG MONAHAN an d GORDON DAVIE; D ire cto r CRAIG MONAHAN;

World Première: 16 May 19:30, Noga Hilton, Salle Jacques Doniol-Valcroze Market Screenings: 18 May 11:30, Ambassades 6 19 May 13:30, Ambassades 6

P roducer BILL HUGHES; C om poser DAVID HIRSCHFELDER (SHINE);

W rite rs ANDREW BOVELL (STRICTLY BALLROOM C o-W rite r O rig in a l Screenplay),

S ta rrin g HUGO WEAVING (PROOF, THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF

ANA KOKKINOS, MIRA ROBERTSON (ONLY THE BRAVE, 19 94 Australian Film

THE DESERT) a n d TONY MARTIN (BLUE MURDER)

In s titu te A w ard: B est S cre en pla y); D ire c to r ANA KOKKINOS (ONLY THE BRAVE, 1994 A u s tra lia n F ilm In s titu te A w ard: B est Film );

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Producer JANE SCOTT (SHINE); E d ito r JILL BILCOCK (ROMEO AND JULIET); S ta rrin g ALEX DIMITRIADES (THE HEARTBREAK KID)

THE S O U N D OF ONE HAND CLAPPING SCREENING

AT

CANNES

14 May 15:30, Ambassades 5 15 May 11:30, Palais L

DEAD LETTER OF F I C E PREMIERING

AT

CANNES

W rite r/D ire c to r RICHARD FLANAGAN; P rod ucer ROLF DE HEER (DANCE ME

15 May 15:30, Ambassades 6 18 May 13:30, Palais L 20 May 15:30, Palais L

TO MY SONG, THE QUIET ROOM); S ta rrin g KERRY FOX (AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE, SHALLOW GRAVE)

ft

¡BERLIN

In C o m p e titio n : 4 8 . B e rlin In te rn a tio n a l F ilm F e stiva l

W rite r and C o-P roducer DEB COX; D ire cto r JOHN RUANE (DEATH IN BRUNSWICK, THAT EYE THE SKY); P rod ucer DENISE PATIENCE (TO HAVE AND TO HOLD); S ta rrin g MIRANDA OTTO (THE WELL, LOVE SERENADE) and GEORGE DELHOYO

FRESH CUT

HEAD ON

PRAISE IN

POST-PRODUCTION

W rite r ANDREW MCGAHAN; D ire c to r JOHN CURRAN (DOWN RUSTY DOWN, 1996 C le rm o n t-F e rra n d S ho rt Film F e stiva l: P rix R echerche); P roducer MARTHA COLEMAN (DOWN RUSTY DOWN);

IN THE W I N T E R DARK IN P O S T - P R O D U C T I O N

S ta rrin g PETER FENTON an d SACHA HORLER

Writers JAMES BOGLE and PETER RASMUSSEN; Director JAMES BOGLE; Producer ROSEMARY BLIGHT (MARY, FRESH AIR); Starring BRENDA BLETHYN (SECRETS AND LIES), RAY BARRETT (HEAVEN’S BURNING), RICHARD ROXBURGH (DOING TIME FOR PATSY CLINE) and MIRANDA OTTO

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Telephone (612) 9202 8555 W riters ANDREW KNIGHT an d MAX DANN (SPOTSWOOD); D ire cto r JOHN POLSON (WHAT'S GOING ON, FRANK?, 1 9 9 5 C h ica g o In te rn a tio n a l Film F e stiva l: S ilve r P laque); P rod ucer AL CLARK (THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA: QUEEN

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DESERT, 1994 C annes In te rn a tio n a l Film F e stiva l: G rand P rix du P u b liq u e );

FINANCING

E xecutive P roducers ANDREW KNIGHT an d PETER BEILBY;

Writer/Director LYNN HEGARTY (TWISTED TALES); Producer FIONA EAGGER

P rod uctio n C om pan y ARTIST SERVICES

(ONLY THE BRAVE); Executive Producer RON SAUNDERS (NAPOLEON);

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W ith its su b tle perform ances, c h a ra c te r-d riv e n plot, g en tle hum our and p o u ltry, Dead L e tte r O ffice bears th e essen tial tra d e m a rk s of John Ruane. M ichael K itson ta lk s to th e u n d erstated d irecto r of D eath in B runsw ick (1991) and T h a t Eye, The S ky (1 9 9 3 ), and recalls th e ir e a rlie r encounters in th e room s of P rahran College. n the late 1980s, John Ruane was teaching at Prahran College, treading water before directing his first feature after a highly successful 1986 short drama, Feathers:

I

When I was teaching film, I thought I’d never get out, and never get to make another film. I was often jealous of my students going out and making some­ thing, anything.

So, while he was making script revisions and cast­ ing his first feature, Death in Brunswick, student crews, on one particular shoot, had redecorated a beachhouse with chocolate corn syrup, loaded the black-and-white film backwards and recorded unusable sound. In his generosity, Ruane invited contributions and criticism from his students. With youthful braggadocio, one student informed him that he was making a big mistake casting Sam Neill in a comedy. Ruane listened politely and got on with the job at hand. As it turned out, Sam Neill proved a brilliant foil to John Clarke’s scene-stealing performance. The students’ horror-masterpiece became editing filler for the next year’s intake, and another of Ruane’s students, Kate Williams, went on to cut Steve Buscemi’s directorial debut, Trees Lounge. This writer was the casting smart-arse. Dead Letter Office is Ruane’s third feature in 10 years. When the seemingly unemployable Alice (Miranda Otto) finds work in the Dead Letter Office, it appears that her new boss, Frank (George DelHoyo), a Chilean refugee, might have the pow­ ers of clairvoyance to locate a missing father. D ead Letter Office, from an original screenplay by Deborah Cox, is the first film where Ruane feels he has been able to concentrate purely on his role as a director. Trained as a writer-director, Ruane says, “I’ve learnt more from this film than anything before it. I wanted to concentrate on try­ ing to direct rather than trying to write.” For the

32

first time, he has been able to leave the difficult, painful and hugely time-consuming process of writing and rewriting to somebody else, in this case the writer and co-producer, Cox. Says Ruane: It’s a very good script and good scripts are hard to come by. Never in my lifetime would I have come up with Dead Letter Office and nor should I. A great deal of Deb’s life is in it. But I think I’ve proved a good interpreter.

The idea, he explains, came from the writer, who sent a package to her father which never arrived. Eventually she received the missing package, marked “return to sender” and “your mail has been opened and forwarded” by this entity called the Dead Letter Office. Annoyed that a stranger had opened and read her mail, Cox investigated, and there she found this odd assortment of characters. Ruane: The memory must have stayed with her, because, before it was a [film] script, it might have been a play. After a number of years of kicking it around and being unsatisfied with its conclusion, she married the char­

acters from the Dead Letter Office with a character based on her Chilean brother-in-law.

Frank, a political prisoner in Chile, now presides over the petty bureaucracy of the Dead Letter Office, a haven for lost souls and lost mail. As Frank and Alice become romantically involved, the Dead Letter Office is increasingly encroached upon by the bogey of economic rationalism, which steadily darkens the mail rooms and steals their office chairs - a reminder that the Dead Letter Office is really just a resting-place on the way to their proper homes. With its roots in gritty urban realism, sharehouseholds and passionless love-making, D ead Letter Office matures into a dance-romance with wonderful moments of magical realism and the voices of the dead letters haunting the sleeping workers of the Office. Shot in M ay and June 1997, that “big chunk of pre-production that you don’t get paid for” began for Ruane in October 1996 and much earlier than that for producer Denise Patience, and Deborah Cox. This extended period prior to pre-production C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


letters; Nicholas Bell plays Kevin, a man still dressed by his mother; and Syd Brisbane is the blue-collar smart-arse, Peter, who collects and displays the mis-mailed, dirty postcards. Two weeks of rehearsals were staged in the backroom of the production office, an old Telecom building in Port Melbourne. It’s never a complete two weeks. You’re always trying to complete the location survey with the crew and all the other bits that need to be done.

Cox found a couple of people from the local Chilean community to teach DelHoyo to dance the Quaker steps and do the Salsa. He had his own teacher, whom he’d see every second night, then he and Otto would take dancing lessons, too. DelHoyo was also attending lessons to lose his broad American accent and Vanessa Steele (who plays Argentinian Carmen) had both dance and Spanish lessons. Patience and Cox had recently collaborated on the mini-series Simone de Beauvoir’s Babies and Ruane brought to this film his regular crew and longtime friends: DOP Ellery Ryan, art director Chris Kennedy, and continuity person Annie Beresford.

involved refining the shooting-script and undertak­ ing the arduous task of casting the romantic leads, Frank and Alice. Ruane:

I always feel like the rest of the crew is so much more experienced than I am. Those three people know my deficiencies.

It’s not an easy piece to put on the screen. It’s a mood-piece that relies on character and the subtle nuance of performance to sustain an audience’s involvement. Frank was a very difficult character to cast: a Chilean, ex-pat, a political refugee.

Ruane sees his role as director in the light of a contributor: I have an idea about how a scene should be shot. 1find that the DOP and the camera operator, Rob Murray, also have ideas, often better ones than me. The director is the reteller of the writer’s tale. The director passes the story into the hands of the crew and

Ruane found little joy in his star-search across South America, before coming upon George Del­ Hoyo, born in Uruaguay and now living in the USA. After her performance in The Well (Samantha Lang, 1996), Miranda Otto seemed an easy choice. In the past she’s played quite exaggerated characters, roles that are perhaps easier to get into. In Dead Let­ ter Office, she’s much closer to playing herself- she doesn’t have all those exaggerated corners to hide in. We had quite a struggle finding just who Alice was, but Miranda managed to put Alice on the screen. Although a lot of the action takes place in the Dead Letter Office, this film is a journey. It doesn’t rely on

the immediate highs of visual explosions to take the story forward; it’s a character-piece.

The supporting cast of Dead Letter Office workers are colourful: Georgina Naidu débuts as the moth­ erly M ary, an Indian woman, who brings a barely suppressed prurience to the opening of dead

the actors. The actors change their lines and the film is rewritten in the editing. Once you are inside it, all you have is the script. It’s easy to lose track of where you are. What is common and solid is the script. You have to rely on your first feelings - that you thought the blueprint was right. In a sense, the director is entrusted with

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Albert (Warren Mitchell), Jack(fbfry Gill), Bruno (Peter Rowsthbm), Joey (Daniel Kellie), Dotty (Valerie Bader), Vi (Maggie King), Hilary (Susan Lyons) and Angus (ChristopherChapman). David Swann's Crackers.

is writer-director David Swann’s first feature, following his very successful short film B onza in 19 8 9 about a dysfunctional family seen through _ theveyes of a dog.1, . In C rackers, Swann is again exploring the comedic potential of, the family drama, this time seen \ V I \ I through the eyes o f pre*:r . — —/ f pubescent Joey (Daniel Kellie). Joey unwillingly joins his widowed mother Hilary (Susan Lyons), her boyfriend Bruno (Peter Rowsthom) and Bruno’s hostile son, Angus (Christopher Chapman), for Christmas ‘vacation’ at the bayside house o f his grandparents, Jack (Terry Gill) and V i (Maggie King). This family ensemble is completed by Joey’s tarty great-

I

I 36

aunt Dotty (Valerie Bader) and his great grandfather Albert (Warren Mitchell), who turns out to be a brotherin-arms when it comes to causing trouble and playing practical jokes. The archetype o f the disastrous family Christ­ mas will be all-too-familiar for many. However, Swann uses this scenario not just for sure-fire laughs, but also as a forum for examining more serious questions about what Christmas and, most importantly, ‘family’ really mean. Comedy is clearly Swann’s preferred genre and his field of expertise.2 He begins this interview by discussing the appeal of comedy across all cultures: A re

t h e r e a n y p a r t ic u l a r f e a t u r e s t h a t d is t in g u is h b e t w e e n

B r it i s h , A m e r ic a n

and

A u s t r a l ia n

comedy

-

fo r e xa m p le , o u r

HEAVY USE OF SARCASM AND IRONY?

They’re all based on the same human foibles; they’re all based on fear. Fear is a huge source of comedy. We laugh at our own foibles. C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


We laugh at our own fear of death, our fear of commit­ ment. i mean, look at Four Weddings and a Funeral what is it about? Charles’ [Hugh Grant] fear of commit­ ment. You’re laughing about this person’s inability to commit, his fear of being alone, of being rejected, of failure. If you didn’t have any fear, I don’t think there would be any comedy, because you wouldn’t be laughing at your own pain.

and beats it with a stick because it’s broken down and he’s got to get back to the restaurant with the duck. Everybody in the world identifies with that moment in time - that frustration, the terror, that he’s not going to make it back in time. We’ve all experienced those obstacles. The physical world in which we live is becoming more and more challenging. Comedy comes from emotion in the script, from emotional vulnerability. We laugh at our own fears and, hopefully, this helps us deal with them, because we don’t feel alone in our own fear. And we also fe e lbecause we can laugh at it - it is essentially some­ thing we can overcome; whereas in a tragedy it can crush someone. I don’t think I’m a strong enough person to write tragedy because I don’t think I’m brave enough to go to those levels, to that depth of despair. It just con­ sumes me. I find that if I research those sorts of stories, often l become totally crushed by them. And I’ve done that. I have several scripts I’ve never fin­ ished because researching in prisons and stuff is just, “Oh God! This is just devastating! This is the world, and a seemingly hopeless world, too.” Because I’m an optimist, I tend to deal with the light-hearted side of life; it helps substantiate that particular point of view that I am an optimist, and I have to believe that there’s hope, and levity gives me that ability to rise above those sorts of things. I n Cr a c k e r s , t h e

c o m e d y is g r o u n d e d in t h in g s

YOU KNOW HAPPEN IN FAMILIES, AND THE AUDIENCE ALWAYS LAUGHS WITH A SENSE OF IRONY, A RECOGNI­ TION OF THE TRUTH OF THE SITUATION. YOU BOTH

IS THAT WHY WE FIND PHYSICAL COMEDY FUNNY,

LAUGH AND WINCE AT THE SAME TIM E, ESPECIALLY WITH

LAUGHING AT PAIN?

t h e k id s , Jo e y a n d

Yes, but there are different things in that. It’s a ques­ tion of identifying with the character, and laughing at the fear and desperation that’s making them drive so erratically, or whatever emotional state it is. It’s the empathy with that emotional state; that absolute rage when Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) gets out of his car C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1 998

Ang us,

w h o can be s o c ruel to

e a c h o t h e r . I s t h a t t o u c h in g o n o u r c o n c e r n s

Yes. Is blood thicker than good red wine? And l cer­ tainly think Christmas brings it to the boil in a lot of families. Once the wine’s under the belt at about 3 o’clock, the skeletons start jumping out of the closet. To me, Christmas is supposed to be about the Christ­ ian values of love and forgiveness, celebrating the whole concept of what love’s supposed to be about“love thy neighbour as thyself” - not buying Christ­ mas presents at Myers. 1thought, “This is absurd. These things are sup­ posed to be the essence of what the celebration’s about, and in reality what I see is fear and loathing around me. I see people who hate Christmas with a passion, people who are terrified of it.” And I had to laugh because it seemed so absurd, so far from the truth of what Christmas is about, especially in the context of families. If you’re going to experience love, one would assume you have a better chance of doing it in that context than any other, and yet in reality we’re brought up with this expectation that we have to love one another unconditionally, and it just doesn’t work that way. The family should be a lifeline, a backbone, a safe haven. And it’s no longer a safe place. Some families have a lot of courage. They’ve grown out of the ’60s, the revolution which transcended the values of the ’50s, which is what jack represents in the story: the old fighter, who’s not going to give up on what he believes. He’s worked hard for what he’s got and he’ll be buggered if he’s going to forgive his old man for being such a prick. And the funny thing is, he does love his dad but he can’t forgive him. And so, dramati­ cally, he’s a character who’s the meat in the sandwich; he’s caught in a dilemma. He wants to be able to resolve the past but he doesn’t know how to do it,

ABOUT HOW WE RELATE TO OUR FAMILY - THE FACT THAT WE FEEL OBLIGATED TO LOVE OUR FAMILY BECAUSE OF A BLOOD CONNECTION?

37


because he doesn’t have the words to communicate. Whereas Bruno, the next generation down, is part of a more new-age philosophy, which is more, “Look, let’s try to deal with our own shit, our own history.” A nd

t h is c l a s h b e t w e e n g e n e r a t io n s is e p it o m iz e d

IN THE CONFRONTATION BETWEEN JACK AND BRUNO o ver the

C h r is t m a s

d in n e r a b o u t w h e t h e r y o u

IGNORE THE PAST AND MOVE ON, OR FACE IT AND DEAL WITH IT.

Very much so. W hat il y ,

H e WAS 13 WHEN HE MADE THE FILM?

y o u m e n t io n e d e a r l ie r a b o u t l o v e a n d f a m ­

AND HAVING TO EARN THAT LOVE, IS BROUGHT OUT

IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JOEY AND BRUNO. I n RESPONSE TO EVERYONE’S EXPECTATIONS THATjOEY w o u l d l ik e

thought, “I want to make sure that I don’t do the same thing; that I treat a kid not as a kid but as a human being.” Kids see things very honestly, and from that per­ spective they have a clear insight into what’s really going on. Whereas grown-ups spend years telling themselves lies and creating fantasies, because they’ve lost the truth. They don’t see through all the bullshit, which is so obvious to kids - and dogs! Daniel was really intelligent. He was like an 80-yearold stuffed into a 13-year-old’s body.

Br u n o ,

b e c a u s e h e ’ s m u m ’ s b o y f r ie n d ,

Yes, but he looks a bit younger, which is what we were hoping for. We wanted to capture a childlike quality, before the whole aspect of sexuality became a part of his persona. We wanted to capture how a kid is really intelligent. You can see when you look into

CONSTANTLY SLAPPED ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD BY VARIOUS FAMILY MEMBERS. THE FILM HAS CERTAIN SUR­ REAL ELEMENTS.

It’s more heightened reality. And that’s part of the fun. It’s like spicing up a good curry: you don’t want to make it too hot, but you want spices, because peo­ ple like spices in food. Comedy’s the same. It’s knowing when you can get away with it; when an opportunity will allow you to do it, or when you have enough credibility, especially with those heightened scenarios at the moment where you want to accentuate the drama in a comic way. With the sound effects, we spent so much time labouring over getting the right sort of flatulence. I can remember our producer, Chris Warner, writing me a note saying, “I just don’t think the farts are quite

HIS ATTITUDE IS, “W HY SHOULD I?” BUT BY THE END OF THE FILM, THINGS HAVE BEGUN TO turn;

Br u n o

b e g in s t o e a r n t h e r e s p e c t o f

Jo e y .

Bruno is making an effort. He’s putting him­ self on the line. He’s made himself vulnerable. Bruno’s the outsider in the family - and everyone knows what it’s like to be an out­ sider. He’s from another tribe. The head chief, like a wary hound, is sniffing around his heels, sussing him out. And Bruno’s trying to be worthy. W hat

d e m o n s t r a t e s t h is c h a n g e in t h e

RELATIONSHIP IS WHEN JOEY SUDDENLY IS CON­ CERNED

about

Bruno

b e in g t h e v ic t im o f a l l

THE PRACTICAL JOKES HE SET UP EARLIER IN THE FILM. H e ’ s

s u d d e n l y c o n f r o n t e d w it h t h e

CONSEQUENCES OF HIS ACTIONS. FOR JOEY, IT’S BEEN LIKE A MATURING PROCESS.

I’m glad that comes across, because I think part of the maturing process - something we all go through - is taking responsibility for your own stuff, for your own baggage. You don’t dump on anybody else. So much of what happens in families is they dump. They get used to “I dump on you, you dump on me” and they’re caught in this persona. You go back home and you’re no longer the person you are with your friends. Joey is metaphorical in a sense. It’s not so much a story about a kid, but the kid in all of us. It’s the more European use of the child as metaphor. We all have to grow up, ultimately. It’s like we were talking about the fear of commitment for men. That’s one of the things we have to grow out o f - this desire for eternal free­ dom, the Peter Pan scenario - and actually earth it on the ground, and become a man. I hope that comes through in the story, because it’s one of the things that I care about. In

t e r m s o f t h e c h il d a s m e t a p h o r a n d id e n t if y in g

WITH HIS POINT OF VIEW , DANIEL’S FACIAL EXPRES­

his eyes that this kid is more intelligent than most of the family. That’s partly the angle that the film takes that it’s always his perspective of this bunch of wackos that he’s somehow a part of by virtue of his family tree.

SIONS, AND HIS DELIVERY OF DIALOGUE, ARE OFTEN

I n TERMS OF THE FILM’S PERSPECTIVE, FREQUENTLY

QUITE ADULT.

THERE ARE SHOTS FROM JOEY’S POINT OF VIEW THAT

That’s why he got the gig. What I hated as a kid was any television that was condescending: “I’m not an idiot. I’m a kid, but I’m not an idiot. Why is it that they think I don’t know what’s going on?” As I grew up, I

38

IMs is fW doe Orton fas abou as a writer: it lias to k believable If jon don't toe belief! jou don’t nave good coitielj; it doesn't fork.

ARE INDICATIVE OF HIS EMOTIONAL STATE: FOR EXAM­ PLE, NOT JUST WHEN HE IMAGINES HE IS FLYING, BUT OTHER CERTAIN SHOTS BEING ON A SLANT. IT IS THE SAME WITH THE USE OF SOUND EFFECTS, AS WHEN HE’S

working here, Dave.” And I was saying things like, “Can we juice it up a little?” We spent hours on this, and I thought, “I think I’m going crazy because I’ve spent all this time on a fart.” But it was tike that with all the effects, whether it was a fly o r... A fly shouldn’t just buzz past, it should be more annoying, more of a nuisance. And when you hear it in digital sound, it really lifts the energy of the film. And it’s fun, which is why people dig it. What is it about animation, the early ones of Chuck Jones that worked so well? They were great charac­ ters. Even though they were animated, they were very believable. Daffy Duck was one of the best caricatures I’ve ever seen. He’s on a par with Basil in Fawlty Tow­ ers in terms of foibles. It’s a very similar sort of genre that I like; it comes from truth. This is what Joe Orton was about as a writer: it has to be believable. If you don’t have belief, you don’t have good comedy; it doesn’t work. I was trying to find that line of believability so that the audience would have empathy for the ts* 73 C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


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Christmas; it’s a nightmare. [See article in this issue, pp.36.]

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^

^

D o m e n ic o Pr o c ac c i . Co - p s : Da v id W o lfe -B a r r y , Pa o l a Co r v in o . SW: Ro lf

de

H eer , H e ath er Ro s e , Fr e d er ic k

St a h l . E: T a n ia N e h m e . DOP: T o n y Cl a r k . PD: B e ver ley

iM f e - - .

M

Fr e e m a n . C: G r a h a m T a r d if f . Ca s t : H e ath er Ro s e , Jo ey K e n n e d y , Jo h n B r u m p t o n , R e n a O w e n , P h il M a c p h e r -

Rolf de Heer. Dance Me To My Song is a journey into and through the world of a woman with cerebral palsy. [See article in this issue. For articles on other Rolf de Heer films, see: “Epsilon, Love and An Alien”, Cinema Papers, no. 104, June 1995, pp. 14-6; “The Quiet Room”, Cinema Papers, no. 110, June 1996, pp. 6-9.]

I 1

/ C

l y 4

s io n .

PC: Co v e n t r y Fil m s . AD: T o t a l

i b

Fil m

~W

and

T e le v i ­

IS: B e y o n d . D: M u r r a y Fa h e y . P:

M u r r a y Fa h e y . EPs : V icto r S y r m is , D a v id H a n n a y . SW: M u r r a y Fa h e y . DOP:

PC: A r tis t S e r v ic e s . AD: Pa l a c e .

Peter B o r o s h . E: B r ia n Ka v a n a g h . PD: Ca s t : T a n y a B u l m e r , Da v id Ca l l a n ,

IS: S o u t h e r n S tar D: Jo h n Ru a n e . Ps: D e n is e Pa t ie n c e , D e b o r a h Co x . EPs:

S h e e n a C r o u c h , Da n ie l C o r d e a u x , P e n n y

S te ve V iz a r d , A n d r e w K n ig h t .

C o o p e r , R ebecca

SW: D e b o r a h Co x . DOP: Eller y Ry a n . PD: Ch r is K e n n e d y . E:

A n d r e w Cr ic h t o n . C: Fr a n k St r a n g io .

de

Un a m u n o .

Synopsis: A comedy about a group of

S I^ H G

b

m

J g fip F

« E |||F * 3

D e n is e H a r a t z is . C: Roger

daggy friends pursuing their daggy hopes and dreams. A comedy about wed­ dings, robberies and life in the suburbs.

i l

life .; f / . • ; /.

A

M a s o n . CD: K errie M a z z a c c o .

■ J

M'

4

f « r:

Ca s t : M ir a n d a O t t o , G eorg e D el H o y o , G e o r g in a N a id u , N ic h o l a s

PC: A r e n a Fil m s . AD: G l o b e . IS: A x io m . D: Ro w a n

B e ll , Sy d B r is b a n e , Ja n e H a l l , M a r k W il s o n , Jil l ia n O’ D o w d ,

W o o d s . Ps : Ro b e r t C o n n o l l y , Jo h n M a y n a r d .

G u il l e r m in a U l l o a , Fr a n k o M il o s t n ik , V a n e s s a S t e e l e .

SW: St e p h e n S e w e ll , b a s e d o n t h e p la y by G o r ­ d o n G r a h a m . DOP: T r is ta n M il a n i . E: N ic k M y e r s . PD: Lu ig i P it t o r in o . CD: A n n ie M a r s h a l l . Ca s t : Da v id W e n h a m , T o n i C o ll e t t e , Ly n e t t e Cu r r a n , Jo h n Po l s o n , Je a n e t t e C r o n in , A n t h o n y Ha y e s .

Synopsis: Brett Sprague returns to his family

home after 12 months in gaol. Things have changed while he has been away. [See review in Cinema Papers, no. 124, May 1998 pp. 37-8.]

Synopsis: The Dead Letter Office is a place of small mysteries,

hidden in the bowels of the Metropolitan Mail Centre. The letters and parcels lining its walls are wrongly addressed or mistakenly posted and most likely will never reach their destinations. This conglomeration of files and cupboards is also a sorting house for every kind of human frailty - letters of lost love, grief and longing - but this is the painful burden that Frank Lobez, officer-in-charge, refuses to take up. That is, until Alice Walsh comes into his life and embroils him in her own misdirected quest for happiness. [See article in this issue, p. 32.] C I N E M A P A P E R S • JU NE 1998


The Interview

PC: POINTBLANK PICTURES PTY LTD (INTERVIEW FILMS PTY

Ltd ). AD: T he G lo b e Fil m C o . IS: S o u t h e r n St a r . D:

C raig M o n a h a n . P: B ill H u g h e s . SW s : C r aig M o n a h a n , G o r d o n Da v ie . DOP: S im o n D u g g a n . E: S u r e sh A y y a r . PD: Ric h a r d B e ll . C: Da v id H ir s c h f e l d e r . CD: Je a n ie Ca m e r o n . Ca s t : H ug o W e a v in g , T o n y M a r t in , A a r o n Je ffer y , Pa u l S o n k k il a , M ic h a e l Ca t o n , A n d r e w B a y l y , P eter M c Ca u l e y , Le ve r n e M c D o n n e l l , L ib b y S to n e

Synopsis: A psychological drama that transports us to a claustrophobic world of half truths and hidden agendas, where people use words to conceal their thoughts. Somewhere, locked away in the bowels of the city, two men play a dangerous game with the truth. As we watch, our loyalties move back and forth, never sure where to side. Then it dawns that there are other players in this game ... with other agendas, and, as The Interview progresses, the chilling reality begins to emerge.

The Sound o f Hand Clapping

PC: H ead O n Pr o d u c t io n s , Pty Lt d . AD: Pa la c e . IS: S o u th e r n S t a r . D: A n a Ko k k in o s . P: Ja n e S c o t t . SW s : A n d r e w B o v e l l , A na Ko k k in o s , M ir a Ro b e r t s o n . DOP: Ja e m s G r a n t . PD: N ik k i D i Fa lc o . E: Jil l B ilc o c k . CD: A n n a B o r g h e s i . Ca s t : A lex D im it r ia d e s , Pa u l Ca p s is , W il l ia m Za p p a , Ju l ia n Ga r n e r , M a r ia M er c ed e s , Eu g e n ia Fr a g o s , A lex Pa p p s .

Synopsis: Twenty-four hours in the life of Ari, a young working-class Greek-Australian man. His journey is about wanting to explore the world, his identity, but at the same time not wanting to be constrained by conventions and boundaries placed on him. Ari rejects conventions and tries to be true to himself. [See article in this issue, p. 26.]

PC: A r t is t S e r v ic e s . AD: Pa l a c e . IS: S o u t h e r n St a r . D: R ic h a r d Fl a n a g a n . P: Ro lf de H e e r . EPs : S te ve V iz a r d , A n d r e w K n ig h t , Ja c k ie O’ S u l l iv a n . SW: Ric h a r d Fl a n a ­ g a n . DOP: M a r t in M c G r a t h . Es : Jo h n S c o t t , T a n ia N e h m e . PD: B ryce P e r r in . C: C e zar y S k u b is z e w s k i . Ca s t : K erry Fo x , K r is to f Ka c z m a r e k , Ro s ie Fl a n a g a n , M e lita Ju r is ic , Ja c ek K o m a n , Ev e ly n K r a p e . 93

m in s .

Synopsis: Thirty-six year old Sonja Buloh returns to the Tasmanian highlands where she grew

up until she left her drunken violent Slovenian father to live in Sydney. She returns pregnant, twenty years later, with a view to piecing together the facts of the past, perhaps to arrive at some rapprochement with her father. [See review in Cinema Papers, no. 124, May 1998 pp.36-7.]

The following is a look at the Australian films most likelu to be cruising La Croisette at Cannes in 1998. PC:

Justice PC: W est Co a s t Pic t u r e s . AD: N e w v is io n Fil m s . IS: A u g u s t En t e r t a in ­ D: Ro n El l io t t . P: B o b Ro g e t . SW: B o b Ro g e t . DOP: A lex M c P h e e . PD: C la y to n Ja u n c e y . E: La w r ie S il v e r s t r in . CD: L is a Ga l e a . m ent.

P r o d u c t i o n c o m p a n y . AD: A u s t r a l i a n d i s t r i b u t o r . IS: I n t e r n a t i o n a l s a l e s . D: D i r e c t o r . P: P r o d u c e r . E P s : E x e c u t i v e P r o d u c e r s . S W : S c r i p t w r i t e r . DOP: D i r e c t o r o f P h o t o g r a p h y . PD: P r o d u c t i o n D e s i g n e r . C: C o m p o s e r .

PC: Ec lip s e Fil m s . AD: Po l y g r a m . IS: B e y o n d . D: Ra c h e l P e r k in s . Ps : N ed La n ­ d e r , A n d y M y e r . SW: Louis N o w r a . DOP: W a r w ic k T h o r n t o n . E: Ja m e s B r a d le y . PD: S a r a h S t o l l m a n . C: A l lis t a ir Jo n e s . CD: T ess S c h o f ie l d . Ca s t : Ra c h e l M a z a , D e b o ­ M a il m a n , T r is h a M o r t o n -T h o m a s .

Ca s t : M a r c u s G r a h a m , K erry A r m s t r o n g .

rah

Synopsis: Justice is an against-the-odds story of hope and inspiration.

Synopsis: The story of three young Aborig­

Set against the background of the city slums, an alcoholic derelict is framed for the murder of a female Internal Affairs officer. In order to prove his innocence, he must first fight and conquer his personal demons before he is able to challenge the legal system and, repre­ senting himself, discover the truth and bring the guilty to justice.

inal women who return home for their mother’s funeral and in the space of 24 hours begin to unravel their somewhat complicated pasts. [See article in this issue, p. 23.] PC: I m a g in e Fil m s . IS: B e y o n d . D: Ro b e r t Ca r t e r . P: Je n n y W o o d s . C o -P: A n t h o n y B u c k le y . SW: Ro b e r t Ca r t e r , BASED ON THE NOVEL BY ROBERT CARTER.

DOP: ANDREW

Le s n ie . PD: N ic h o l a s M c Ca l l u m . E: W a y n e L e Cl o s . C: P eter B e s t . Ca s t : M a t t Da y , R h o n d d a Fin d l e t o n , T o n y H a y e s , M ic h e l a N o o n a n , G len S h e a , S a m H e a ly , Jo h n W a t e r s , El io t Pa t o n .

Synopsis: A teenage non-conformist’s rite-of-passage tale

takes audiences on an emotional rollercoaster to new ter­ rains, as Harris Berne experiences love, tragedy, ‘madness’ and emerges from the catharsis an offbeat hero.

Sugar Factory 43


television

E X T i l O 14 ridge s tre et, n o rth Sydney nsw 2 0 6 0 australia telep h o n e / 61 2) 995 5 3663 fa c s im ile / 61 2) 9 9 5 5 3883 contact / m ichael m urray w eb site / w w w .e x tro .c o m .a u e-m ail / in fo @ e x tro .c o m .a u


Jonathan Livingston re-sightea Australia is building a tradition o f DOPs packing in their light meters and settling into director’s chairs ... to mostly variable results. MICFLAEL HELMS checks out the first feature o f Academy Award-winner Dean Semler to see if he has beaten the career-swap curse

A passion for the buff X -rated m ovies are once ag ain being produced in O z, an d M ichajel H elms investigates the first release from a form er deputy, ch ief censor

From Rottnest Island in W.A. comes the romantic comedy Under the

Lighthouse Dancing. Paul Kalina finds more than love is in the air

A F E E L I N G FOR W A T E R • W A S T H A T B O B ?

ì ì ì Ì

EDITOR’S NOTE: D ue TO THE

' In R e-release

Directed

by

Nicolas Roeg . Producer :

ALMOST TOTAL ABSENCE OF

S i Litvinoff . Associate

PREVIEWS FOR FILMS SLATED FOR

). Hope . Executive

RELEASE IN MAY-JUNE, WE HAVE INSTEAD ON A RE-RELEASE, AND

Max L. Raab .

S criptw riter : Edward Bond. Based novel

BEEN OBLIGED TO CONCENTRATE

producer : Anthony

producer :

on the

The C hildren * by James Vance

Marshall . Director

of photography :

Nicolas Roeg . Production

designer :

Brian

ON SEVERAL FILMS THAT WENT

Eatwell . Editors : Antony Gibbs , Alan

STRAIGHT TO VIDEO OR PASSED

Patillo . Composer : John Barry . S ound

THROUGH CINEMAS

recordist :

Barry Brown. Mixer : Gerry

Humphries . Ca st : Jenny Agutter (Girl),

BLINK OF

Lucien John (White Boy), David Gumpill2(Black Boy); John Melion 3, Robert Mc Dara , Pete Carver . Australia . 1971.

'he ‘director’s cut’ of Walkabout (1971) has just been re-released with a new, uncut 35mm print.4 It is still one of the most insightful films about

black-white relations and their rela­ tionship to this continent, and it was made by an Englishman. But Walkabout is not just an unusual love story about the clash of differ­ ent cultures, it is about ways of seeing which Nicolas Roeg empha­ sizes by the use of a very expressive camera (he was also the DOP), and his personal director’s vision. The story concerns the strange meeting between two children and the Aboriginal Black Boy (David Gumpill5), in a mythical place that is sometimes the Simpson desert and sometimes Arnhem Land. The white children are rescued from certain death, but the Aboriginal boy is not so fortunate because he falls in love with Girl (Jenny Agutter) and becomes the de facto father to White Boy (Lucien John). Walkabout starts in Sydney where the business-executive father (John Melion6) walks out of his concrete skyscraper office (Aus­ tralia Square) in a state of deep

depression. Here, Roeg *- f ^ inter-cuts mechanical shots of the city with the desert, so that an absurd radio pro­ gramme about how to use cutlery is played over wide, attractive shots of the red-earth landscape. We see the father, his young son and teenage daughter at school and at home, and swimming in a surreal Lavender Bay pool. We then mysteriously track along a brick wall to reveal the trio sitting in their father’s black VW car, while he does geological sur­ veys of the earth, in a place that looks like the edge of the desert. Suddenly, in one ofthe most remarkable scenes in Australian cinema, the children are left on their own and have to trek across a strange, harsh country to try and find ‘civilization’. Through the wonderfullyincisive dialogue (Girl at times sounds iS B L

incredibly like Ë the disturbed ~ father with lines like, “We’ve got to go”, “I can’t waste time” and “Keep your school blazer clean”), the big sister encourages her brother to keep going, and not to give in to the terrible heat and their

f {David Gumpill [Gulpilit]), 'White Boy 4Lucien Joh n ) and Girl (Jenny Agutter). **•*'. KJtrnTa N icolasc Rnpo’s Roeg’s W/alGahmitW alkab o ut


in review Films continued senseless wanderings. She is the product of her culture, but White Boy often sees through her attempts at bravery with questions like, “We’re lost, aren’t we?” and “It doesn’t make any difference which way we go, does it?” And it is White Boy who first sees Black Boy, and is able to really communi­ cate their desperate need of water. Roeg intercuts the trio’s jour­ ney with unusual close-ups of Australian wildlife, with all sorts of animals and birds and reptiles observing their progress. Even a wombat gives White Boy a friendly nudge in the middle of the night. Watching the film on the big screen for the first time (I have seen it several times on video) made me realize it is a much more complex film than I had thought. Roeg is a master storyteller on the subject of complex relationships and how they can change. For example, White Boy sees Black Boy as an equal, and as someone who can teach him something, and he is soon communicating in a basic lan­ guage they have developed together. But Girl, aware of her growing sensuality and eroticism between herself and Black Boy, is caught in the dilemma of trying to

46

save herself and her young brother from perishing and never returning to the city. It is this deeper layer of the film that Roeg brilliantly uses his cam­ era and John Barry’s music to emphasize, with White Boy actually starting to see the natural world through indigenous eyes, and Girl afraid of Black Boy’s tribal culture and rejecting his direct sexual over­ tures completely. Like Roeg’s later film, Don’t Look Now, these three characters are caught up in a much bigger story from which two will emerge greatly changed. The re-release of Walkabout is important and timely, as it shows just how far Australians need to travel to reach any reconciliation between black and white, and with the land. © MARGARET SMITH 1 The book was re-issued as Walkabout. 2 Usually spelt “Gulpilil”. 3 Usually spelt “Meillon”. 4 When released in 1971, the film was censored (to remove all glimpses of pubic hair). These cuts have been re-instated. As well, there have been claims that this new print also contains a scene not in the original release print (that of the survey­ ors), but this is not true. 5 See footnote 2. 6 See footnote 3.

O n th e

S h e lf

BUFFYDOWN UNDER Directed by : J. J. Dickens . Producer David Haines . S criptw riter : M. T. Quill . Editor : Jenny S nippet . Make - up : Fanny Mc Beaver . Ca s t : Kristi Myst , Foxy , Roger Hamilton , S abrina , Aaron S lider , Taranika , Paul Watts , T he S ensational Cowboy .

lthough the coming of the video age sent the interna­ tional adult film industry into a production frenzy that’s yet to sub­ side, it took until the late 1980s for Australian producers to become involved in any sort of meaningful way. Originally, local adult movie distributors, many of which had only previously dealt in print media, were focused solely on the importation and marketing of (mainly) American product. Then as now, and via mail order, the aver­ age credit-card-wielding Australian could readily purchase videos from Canberra or Darwin bearing X-ratings along with prominent company names like Western Visu­ als, VCA Pictures, Caballero Home Video and others. Business was brisk for these products peopled by primitive performers, many of whom might easily confuse the word coercion for some kind of new pharmaceutical. By 1985, only five Australian films had earned the X-rating, and at least one of those got it for sloppy editing more than any inten­ tion to corner the adult video market. Of course, Australian adult film production did exist back then, but not in any sort of commercial quantity. Fifteen years ago, you might have run the risk of getting yourself kicked out of film school for making porn-that is, if you could’ve found bodies to fill the space in front of the camera-but, even worse, you could have found yourself under arrest. It is not clear what precisely ini­ tiated the first bunch of Australian commercial-grade X-rated films (the continual search by porn pro­ ducers for a gimmick that often barely stretches beyond the some­ times hilariously parodic titles, a government prepared to at least officially look into the issue of an adult film industry, or perhaps the lure of a good holiday destination with some earning potential on the side for its foreign stars?), but it did take Americans, and specifically members of the male sex, to fuel the first spurt of activity here in the

A

late ’80s. Almost overnight, titles such as Aussie Vice, Aussie Made in America, Australian Connection and Aussie Exchange Girls began infiltrating warehouse space and appearing in local and U.S. cata­ logues. Besides the inclusion of a few specific Australian locations, the only other obvious Australian element came in the form of the porn-de-plumes taken by Aus­ tralian adult movie stars such as Alice Springs and the hapless Mel Bourne. Springs, along with Deidre Holland and Kelly Blue, spear­ headed the female front on this short-lived series funded by the Mature Media Group. With the exception of Mel Bourne, Aus­ tralian male co-stars were thin on the ground. In an interview in Fatal Visions, Alice Springs observed that an American stunt dick had to be brought in for Mel’s pre-requi­ site ejaculation shots. Randy West, Randy Spears, Jon Dough and Joey Silvera are the real male stars of the first wave of Australian porn films. Haifa decade later, the situa­ tion has been reversed when in BuffyDown Under the balloon­ breasted American Kristi Myst saunters off an international flight at Sydney airport and straight into an enzyme exchange scene with a couple in a hotel room. Buffy soon finds herself engaged in sex scenes with several Australians. Most fre­ quently, it’s the performer billed as “The Sensational Cowboy”, who

gets to copulate and commit other on-screen sex acts with Myst. {Busy’s plot revolves around the titular American character’s ‘search’ for her old friend, which conveniently takes her to Sydney and on to Canberra and back again.) Buffy ardently follows the uni­ versal template for shooting a video porn flick by using mostly non-existent excuses for sex scenes, poor sound (but wellrecorded and insanely repetitive musical signatures), and avoiding budget blow-outs by simply filming as quickly as possible with the smallest crew possible. Production design is non-existent, utilizing natural locations on all occasions. As with plenty of products in the adult film market, continuity and other considerations revealing care and planning are left to be fixed in post-production, if at all. Buffy sometimes exudes this slipshod feel. In between shots of Sydney Harbour, we’re treated to numer­ ous hotel rooms, a bit of product placement inside a Canberra sex shop, and the corner of a hotel room masquerading as a nightclub. The sex scenes in Buffy are filmed as straight as the type of sex scenes offered (female masturba­ tion x 1, girl/girl giving way to girl/girl/guy scenes x 2, one girl to girl, and two girl/guy scenes) with a single camera taking in all the action. The only bit of work seems to have taken place on a spa bath

C I N E M A P A P E R S * J UNE 1998


scene. The use of props is limited to one fluro and one giant transpar­ ent pink dildo. Although the cast in general, several of whom appeared to have taken time off from their usual table-top dancing gig, exhibit some experience, enthusiasm visi­ bly wanes on more than one occasion. With the exception of a peep booth scene, there’s little imagination used filming any part of Buffy. This not a prerequisite for making your average shelf-filler porn but leaves it far removed from the work of cutting-edge porn king Michael Ninn, who’s currently set­ ting artistic limits with Shock and Latex. Don’t expect any innovation with Buffy. At best, Buffy could be described as serviceable, and ade­ quate in most technical areas, which is all it really needs to secure itself credit card orders and shelf space. One (small) way in which Buffy differentiates itself from its compe­ tition is its use of Aussie slang. “Ally’s hanging out with boofheads”, says one character; and, “You like nothing more than a ses­ sion with the one-eyed trouser snake”, mumbles another. Throughout the film we’re con­ stantly faced with Buffy landing on strange doorsteps and droning, “Hi, I’m Buffy. Have you seen my friend Ally?”, delivering her dia­ logue as awkwardly as she positions herself for the camera. When one particular guy opens the door, the exchange continues like this: “I suppose a root’s out of the question?” “What’s that?”, responds Buffy. “A fuck”, says our stud. “Okay”, says Buffy. “Struth, are you fair dinkum or what?”, he quips, before eagerly locking loins for the film’s finale. The major way Buffy removes itself from the pack, and has achieved more than the odd men­ tion in many areas of Australian mainstream press, is the fact that it was produced by ex-deputy chief censor David Haines. Sure, Haines knows the rules as they’re cur­ rently formulated, and as such Buffy observes them obediently. So, contrary to what the video slick might have you believe, don’t expect to see Buffy having sex on the steps of the Opera House this time out. It also should be noted that Buffy is only a randomly safesex movie. The next Haines production should be in the can before you read this. ® MICHAEL h e l m s

DIANA AND ME Directed

by

David Pa rk er . P ro ducer : M att

Ca r r o l l Scriptw riter : M a tt Ford , based ON A SCREENPLAY BY ELIZABETH COLEMAN. Director

of pho t o g r a ph y : Keith

Editor : B ill M u r ph y . P roduction

Wagstaff . designer :

Jon Dow ding . Co s tu m e s : T ess S chofield . Ca s t : T oni Collette (Diana S pencer ), Dominic W est (Rob Na ylo r ), M alcolm Kennard (Mark ), V ictoria Eagger (Carol ), John S im m (Neil), S erena Gordon (Sarah ). A ustralian

distributor : Roadshow .

A ustralia . 35m m . 90

ew films can have suffered from such unfortunate timing as Diana and Me. Completed just before the death of the Princess of Wales in 1997, it seemed as if it would be too tasteless to release a film about an Australian girl of the same name and birthday, who has an obsession with her famous namesake. The original film, taste­ less in other, more literal ways (i.e., lacking in flavour), was rushed into theatrical exhibition late last year, bookended by scenes of the hero­ ine mourning the death of the other Diana Spencer. Now it appears on the shelves of video libraries, but, how­ ever you look at it, nothing is ever going

F

CTHULHU Directed by Damian Heffernan . Producer : Damian Heffernan . S criptw riter : Damian Heffernan . Director of photography : Carl Looper . Editor : S ophie Platty . Com poser : Jason S ims . Ca st : Paul Williamson (Inspector Legrasse ), Malcolm Miller (Professor A rmitage); James Payne , A dam S omes , Melissa Georgiou .

I

n this brave new digital age, Cthulhu is a rare beast indeed, being a completely independent film actually shot on film, although it was finished on video principally to incorporate several digital effects. Moreover, it’s the first fea­ ture in years to be lensed entirely in Canberra that hasn’t earned an X-rating. In fact, the first place you’re likely to witness this flick is on television, where it currently awaits a timeslot at Network 10. Based-an The Call of Cthulhu, the film is really a condensation by writer-director-producer Damian Heffernan of several stories by supreme fantasy author H. P. Lovecraft. Although Lovecraft’s writings have been influential in so many areas, from Eric Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods to the 1950s Nigel Kneale Quartmass television series, it is low-budget film work that has raised his profile and thrust his concepts forward. Heffernan’s very low-budget Cthulhu revolves around two students and their discovery of a Cthulhu cult. An inexplicable murder brings in a police investigation headed by one Inspector Legrasse (Paul Williamson), who’s aided by the boy’s academic mentor, Professor Armitage (Malcolm Miller). Some­ what predicably this leads to further unsolved crimes, ancient texts, madness and a field where it all culminates in a welter of digital effects, gunshots and death. For a first-time effort shot with a largely amateur cast in a com­ pletely isolated location, there’s some sense of achievement that needs to be recognized here. Unfortunately, the end product leaves much to be desired. Even

C I N E M A P A P E R S • JUNE 1998

die-hard fans of the works of Lovecraft will find it hard to digest this stew. A major problem, which could be traced to the piecemeal production schedule, seems to be a definite variation in tone between the off-screen narrator and his on­ screen persona. Conducted in flashback format, Cthulhu’s main character of Dan is simply too obnoxious to take seri­ ously. As the only link between humanity and a race of ancient beings intent on wiping out the human race, he simply remains unconvincing. To be fair, the visualization of Lovecraft’s very literary horror will always remain problematic, no matter how big your effects bud­ get. Heffernan confuses the issue with the unsophisti­ cated use of different film stocks and an uneven dialogue soundtrack. The bass-heavy synthe­ sizer score always manages to boom out, though, without it, we’d be left with a very flat film. There’s just too much ambition going on here without the ability to real­ ize it. A for effort. © MICHAEL HELMS

1997.

m in s .

to make the rest of the film seem funny or charming in the circum­ stances. For my part, with or without its prologue and epilogue set outside Kensington Palace with the chas­ tened Diana adding her flowers to the tributes, this would never have been very funny or charming. Romantic comedy is not a genre in which the new Australian cinema has excelled, and even America rarely pulls off a success these days in a field in which it once so effortlessly triumphed. Diana and Me is, to be fair, a smarter piece of work than such other Australian genre pieces as The Best of Friends (Michael Robertson, 1982) or Breakfast in Paris (John D. Lamond, 1982), but that is like praising a three-year-old for saying “Please”. There is no sense of inevitability in the final Heathrow embrace which clinches the construction of the romantic couple as there is no chemistry between Toni Collette as the Wollongong Diana and Dominic West as Naylor, the London


FIRESTORM Director : Dean S emler . S criptw riter : Chris S oth . Ca st : Howie Long , William Forsythe , S uzie Am is , S cott G lenn .

pon viewing this dumb-asrocks action-adventure flick, you’re guaranteed to walk away with one question that will burn as bright as the house lights through all the trailers at your local multi­ plex. Simply put, why did Academy Award-decorated Australian cine­ matographer Dean Semler bother to attach himself to this project? Surely, it couldn’t have been the only directorial job on offer? On paper, and at least in synopsis, Firestorm might’ve sounded like a good vehicle for the career diver­ sion that Semler envisaged but... As the opening credit crawl indicates, Firestorm is based on the real-life antics of an élite breed of firefighter who specialize in jump­ ing out of planes to conduct lifesaving battles with forest fires in areas that otherwise remain inaccessible. Match this act of modern-day derring-do to a crimi­ nal conspiracy that requires starting a major forest fire in order to engineer a gaol break, and you have a recipe for a possible Satur­ day matinee barnstormer. Images of John Wayne strutting into the command centre as Red Adair in Hellfighters (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1968) begin to flicker. And, hey, that’s even before the star of this flick, Howie Long, is mentioned. Howie who? Howie and his lantern jaw came to Firestorm via sports commentating, which was pre­ ceded by a distinguished career as a leading gridiron player in the NFL. Though it’s yet to become a stan­ dard career path here (is Tim Watson a contender for the screen­ play version of Brian Mannix’s novel, The Broady Skulls?), Howie would probably make a pretty decent fireman with or without a seriously clichéd script. Anyway, it’s a fact that Hollywood desper­ ately needs a new action star, so how could any mogul overlook Howie’s credentials (we still believe Jeff Speakman could still make it as the American action hero in the next millennium)? Another attraction for Semler could’ve been the opportunity to work with acres of natural land­ scape. Although most of it supposedly gets destroyed in Firestorm, that all seems to happen in post-production. And then it’s as poorly-executed as the opening

U

paparazzo for whom she ditches her Australian boyfriend. Romantic comedy depends on irresistibly attractive leads whom, whatever happens along the way, we expect to be in each other’s arms at the end. Collette’s charm­ lessness has worked in her favour in the past, notably in Muriel’s Wedding (P. j. Hogan, 1994), and it might have worked here if the scriptwriters hadn’t felt the generic need of this final clinch and had let a sadder and wiser Diana return to Australia. The Diana she creates belongs convincingly to the early Australia-set scenes and to her first gawky encounters with London and snooty Poms (there are echoes of Barry McKenzie here); but every­ thing about her screen persona makes her unacceptable as the conventional romantic heroine the film ultimately wants her to be. And she is not helped by West who, good-looking enough to function as a romantic lead, lacks variety and lightness of touch. Once past the 1997 prologue and back in New South Wales eigh­ teen months earlier, the film looks as if it might have enough vulgar comic vigour to sustain our inter­

48

est. The women’s magazine editor in a yellow suit, barking out orders to her underlings about the need to find a winner in the fly-to-Englandand-meet-Diana competition, is genuinely funny in Veronica Longley’s performance and so is her London counterpart, Carol (Victoria Eagger), of the awesome vowels. There is a lively veracity, too, about the scenes in Wollongong (all belching chimney stacks) in which Diana learns that she has won the trip for two to London to meet her idol. Cut to plane heading north, then circling over Windsor, arrival at the crummy hotel which is part of the prize and a lot of legitimately used tourist clichés about London. Not long after this it all begins to unravel; the comic invention fal­ ters and becomes little more than a few wild car chases as the paparazzi pursue the famous Diana in scenes which now inevitably seem tacky. Diana and Naylor fell on each other before felling for each other, but the increasingly wild situations in which they find themselves as she works towards achieving her goal of meeting Diana are just that: wild situations which aren’t funny or fresh enough

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to paper over the cracks of plot contrivance and logical absurdity. In great romantic comedy, we oughtn’t to be aware of these. At heart, perhaps what is most seriously amiss with Diana and Me is that it isn’t in the end about anything much. There is, for instance, nothing to compare with the underlying conflict between life-denying immersion in work and irrepressible zest which anchors a great romantic comedy like Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938). I’d maintain that all great comedy is seriously based; without this, one ends up with entertaining and forgettable bits and pieces. Here we have an ordinary Australian girl obsessed with and faced with the prospect of meeting a cultural icon on the other side of the world. That might have been the basis for a sharp satirical comedy, but the film offers only the most superficial appraisal of the phenomenon of celebrity and the power it can exert. And it’s not being merely solemn to be asking for something more than we get. Diana’s opening words-“I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I still don’t believe it. She meant so much to

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me. I really miss her. She changed my life” - entitle us to expect some sort of discourse, comic or otherwise, on the 20th Century’s obsession with stardom and the legend-making propensity of early death. Further, there are brief guest appearances from the likes of Kylie Minogue and Bob Geldoff (and Susannah York-Susannah York, in 1997, as an instantly recognizable celebrity?) as if to underline this pre-occupation. But nothing . .. incisive or witty or savage ever comes of this. Diana lets nice thick Australian Mark go home alone and Naylor gives up the life of the paparazzo: the implication is that they are both better people than they were, and that each has come to a realization of the importance of the privacy of private life, both renouncing the kinds of intrusiveness of their earlier behaviour. Tragic reality may have overtaken director David Parker. In other circumstances, he might have made an all-stops-out satire on the cult of celebrity; as it is, Diana and Me is a limp romantic comedy, only intermittently comic and never romantic. © BRIAN McFARLANE

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


rescue operation where a firefight­ er’s life is traded for a cute puppy which is rendered in glorious slowmotion. Incredibly, Howie and the rest of the team save themselves by simply slipping beneath a fire­ proof blanket. That’s okay, because we already know they’re only battling lorn-high CGI flames, as many of the actors have been spied in close-up with barely a globule of perspiration amongst them. Maybe the make-up crew got lost on the road to this thicklywooded location? Whatever, things don’t really hot up in Firestorm until it jumps forward a year. Here the dramatic underpinnings for the film are laid down in stone. Firstly, the Chief of Smokejumper Academy (Scott Glenn) is set to retire and wants to pass on the mantle to Howie, who’s left to anguish about the sit­ uation for the rest of the flick. A dumb aside comes in the form of a student who can’t climb a twostorey pole without dropping his fire axe at this moment gets a reprise to let Firestorm go out with some supposed laughs. Secondly, and most impor­ tantly, we’re introduced to Howie’s future nemesis: a long-haired and evil, Fire Engineering magazine­ reading William Forsythe. In his best role since seriously intimidat­ ing Steven Seagal in Out forJustice, Forsythe plays an inmate of a local penal institution from where labour is recruited to assist during the

fighting of major fires. Forsythe has big plans to relieve himself of his gaolbird status. In several moments that earn Firestorm its M rating, Forsythe viciously punc­ tures the jugular of a fellow inmate to put his plan in motion. Thirdly, Suzy Amis, as a bird­ watching scientist, casually strolls into the bush in order to create a love interest for Howie, a kidnap victim for Bill, and a character we should care about. Two out of three ain’t bad as she sits oblivious to the raging inferno headed her way. The rest of Firestorm is perfunctory stuff enlivened only by chainsaw juggling, Forsythe and crew’s atrocious Canadian accents, a vicious kick in the stomach for Suzy Amis, and, if you didn’t already think this was a horror film, then an ending dredged up directly from Crystal Lake. Howie’s ability to push someone through the bottom of a metal dinghy has to be seen to be believed, as does the similar nuclear strength (and highty-artificial) event of the title. Perhaps to fulfil contractual obligations, Firestorm was pushed through a week in Melbourne cinemas. The print I caught was seriously worn but, even though most of Firestorm’s deficiencies should be hidden on tape, I wouldn’t seriously advise anyone to burn out and rent it.

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998

© MICHAEL HELMS

LOVE IN AMBUSH Directed by Carl S chultz . Producer : Jean -P ierre Ramsay Levi , David Hannay. Executive

producers : Jean -P ierre

Ramsay

Levi , Richard Becker . Co- producer : Rocky Bester . Line producer : Phil Warner . Written by : Loup Durand , David Am brose , Christine Miller . A dditional

material :

John Howlett , Jock Blair . S creenplay : Carl Schultz . Based on the novel Jarai by Loup Durand. Director

of photography :

John S to kes . Production

designer :

Georgina G reen hill Com poser : Olivier Lliboutry . Editor : Minh -Tam -Nguyen . S ound

recordist : Paul

“S alty Dog ”

Brincat . Mixer : William Flageollet . Ca st : G rant Piro (Jon Kincaird ), S igrid T hornton (S helley Kincaird ), Jacques P errin (Pascal Lasalle), Gary S weet (Eddie Norton), Bernadette Lafont (Madeleine Carver ). Becker G roup Corporation National de

FIT Production in Australian Film Finance

and

association with

presents with la

Centre

Cinématographie .

Australia -F rance . 1997. V ideo : Polygram .

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his official French-Australian co-production is the latest offering from veteran Aus­ tralian director Carl Schultz, best remembered for such films as Blue Fin (1978), Travel­ ling North (i987)and Sumner Locke Elliott’s Careful He Might Hear You (1983). Based on the Loup Durand novel Jarai, and adapted for the screen by the director (and five co-writers), Love in Ambush boasts unusually high production values, lush art direction and poetic cine­ matography. Set in Cambodia in 1972, the film tells the story of an Australian woman, Shelley Kincaird (Sigrid Thornton),

who comes to Phnom Pen in search of her brother, Jon (Grant Piro), a career soldier who goes missing in action while on a special mission in Vietnam. In her search, Shelley is assisted by her ex-husband, the French plantation owner Pascal Lasalle (Jacques Perrin) and an Australian journalist, Eddie Norton (Gary Sweet). Inevitably the trio become involved in the political unrest and military intrigue of the early’70s Cambodia and are still left with enough time to sort through some personal emotional baggage. Described on the video-slick as “a compelling thriller”, the leisurely-moving plot struggles to live up to this billing. The narrative lacks tension and the cast’s sound efforts do little to make the

' escapades of the characters “com­ ' pelling”. The bitter-sweet resolution is unsurprising and \ rather flat. Directorial presence is mainly in evidence in Schultz’s sig­ nature skill of effective evocation of an idyllic environment, though not much else. 1 However, one cannot help but compare Love in Ambush to other Australian films of the genre-a 1 genre which is unique to Australian ' film culture-that of Australia’s j socio-political relationship with its 1 South East Asian neighbours. Much like The Year of Living Dan­ j gerously (Peter Weir, 1982), Far East (John Duigan, 1982), Turtle 1 Beach (Stephen Wallace, 1992), j Traps (Pauline Chan, 1994) and \ another Australian-French co-pro­ duction, Walk into Paradise (Lee Robinson and Marcel Pagliero, 1956), Love in Ambush places an Australian individual with a personal agenda against the politicallyviolent background of a neighbour-nation and lets that individual become temporarily involved in the turmoil. And though not of any particular merit, in its essence Love in Ambush is an interesting work simply because it serves to build up this unique Australian genre - and any Australian film which contributes to the idio­ syncrasies of our cultural identity is necessarily impor­ tant. © ALISSA TANSKAYA

49


Sureview Video continued UNDER THE LIGHTHOUSE DANCING Directed

by

Graeme Rattigan . P roducer :

David G iles . Scriptwriters : David Giles , Graeme Rattigan . Director

of

PHOTOGRAPHY: PAUL MURPHY. PRODUCTION designer : La ur en c e

Eastw o o d . Editor :

David Stiven . M usic : Ne r id a Tys o n -Chew . Ca s t : Jack T hom pson (Harry ), Jacqueline M cKenzie (Em m a ), Naomi Watts (Louise ), A den Gillett (David ), P hilip Holder (Garth ), Zoe Bertram (Juliet). A ustralian distributor : Buena

V ista Home V ideo .

35m m . A ustralia . 1998.90

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hose looking to get a head start on viewing the local industry’s flotsam and jetsam need not wait for the week before Christmas, when traditionally the television graveyard slot uncovers troves of unheralded and unloved films. Head to your video library now, and ask for Under the Lighthouse Danc­ ing, a barely-publicized, little-known theatrical feature shot in 1996 in Western Australia with the financial support of the West

111»

Emma (Jacqueline McKenzie) E p p S i r i y (Jack Thompson). Im ndekthe Lighthouse Dancing.

Australian Lotteries Commission, and only very briefly released in Sydney and Perth. Graeme Rattigan’s feature début is a creaky and lumbering mire of clichés, an undercooked narrative and limp melodrama, which all the while carries the worst marks of a stage-to-screen adaptation of an antiquated draw­ ing-room play. A striking beach house on Rottnest Island stands in for the chandeliered drawing room in which Harry (lackThompson) and Emma Qacqueline McKenzie), and a handful of their close friends, have gathered for a weekend’s celebra­ tion of Life’s Miracles. Having found the love of his life in Emma, Harry intends to marry her in grand fashion. The irascible soul hasn’t organized a thing, the paper-thin plot thus dispatching him on his bike to find a minister who will perform the honours while the gals coquettishly banter and giggle about those rascally men. It’s only around the halfway mark, in a scene of breathtaking

clumsiness, that the film finally manages to inject a modicum of dramatic import, with Emma’s announcement of being gravely ill. But the agenda here is clearly on accentuating the positive — that the film goes to the trouble of an inter-title announcing it is based on a true story is utterly ludicrous. The nuptial merriment continues unalloyed with the film’s centre­ piece attraction, a wedding banquet replete with mediaeval pageantry, jugglers and flame­ throwers. Forsooth! There’s a parallel love story, too, in which snooty, anally-retentive yacht captain David (Aden Gillett) romances the engaged-tobe-married Brit Louise (Naomi Watts). As they embrace on the

sands of a moonlit beach and descend upon one another for the First Tantalizing Kiss, David hesi­ tates: “Kissing a beautiful woman is a very dangerous thing”, he tells her. (Really? Try train-surfing.) The ‘old-fashioned’ romance here is less quaint than it is odious. The feyness of Under the Light­ house Dancing is so monotonous and pervasive as to simply defy the viewer’s engagement. It is so intent on depicting a jolly sunny world it won’t let anything get in its waynot even Emma’s alleged suffering, which we register by way of Jacque­

line McKenzie’s radiant face that would not be out of place in a health-food advertisement. It is easy to watch a film like this and to project at almost every turn a Monty Python-style satiric riff. The droll captions that under­ score Glen Baxter’s cartoons come to mind as Louise confesses to David that she “was about to com­ mit a terrible sin”. Dolphins frolic in the sea as the island adventure begins; Jonathan Livingstone Seag­ ull makes his movie comeback to signal that the spirits of the living and the dead are merging in the latter scenes of supposed tran­ scendence. The shots represent a low-point in cinematic imagination. One could get fired up here and ask how a script like this gets funded in a country where hun­ dreds of unproduced screenplays lie in wait, or why great actors like Thompson and McKenzie, choosing to stay at home to work, end up being wasted in a film like this. But what finally makes Under the Lighthouse Dancing the failure that it is can be put down to more than the plethora of clichés, the antiquated notions of morality, romance and mortality, or the director’s failure to imbue some perspective on the matters at hand. At its most fundamental level, the film is a storytelling cop-out. Much as Thompson and McKenzie make their characters look like two people overcome with affection and dedication, they have no inner life whatsoever, either as individu­ als or as a couple. The friendships are played for nought; they are not devices through which the central relationship is played and reflected, but merely wallpaper to cover the undulating landscape. © PAUL KALINA

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C I N E M A P A P E R S • JUNE 1998


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Iinreview B o o kd AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BRITISH CINEMA AS TOLD BY THE FILMMAKERS AND ACTORS WHO MADE IT Brian Mc Farlane , foreword

by

Julie Christie , Methuen , London , 1997, illus ., index , 656 pp ., rrp $39.95

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ecent work from the British Film Institute represents a break with years of pretentious celebrity director biographies and studies of suspect film theory. Allen Eyles and David Meeker’s Missing Believed Lost is an intrigu­ ing account of vanished British features. Ginette Vincendeau’s Encyclopaedia of European Cinema is a useful tool in dealing with SBS’s unknown-quantity movies. Australian academic Brian McFarlane’s An Autobiography of British Cinema follows their documented list model. The book is made up of roughly 200 prefaced interviews with industry figures, spaced by sketches of individuals unable or unwilling to be contacted. The range of subjects is imposing and it must have repre­ sented a substantial effort. We get Lindsay Anderson and Hayley Mills, Mike Leigh and Michael Winner, Richard Todd and Sally Potter. The odds are that it will be seen by both its publishers and users as all you need to know. Expect to see it quoted endlessly by television reviewers and thesis writers. There’s a nice quota of trivia. The hand suspending Nova Pilbeam over the studio pit in Young and Innocent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1937) belongs to husband-to-be Penn Tennyson, then assistant director and later to make Convoy (1940) and The Proud Valley (1940) before his war­ time death. She’s surprised to find people still enjoy the film. Though the book’s ten­ dency is for people to characterize old associates as “wonderful”, a large number of name directors get buck­ eted by their colleagues. Include Maurice Elvey (“tricky”),

52

John Huston (“a bit cruel”), Carol Reed (“bloody minded”), Michael Powell (“unkind”), Otto Preminger (“unkind and disturbing”). The problem I have with Auto­ biography of British Cinema is that I recognize that frame of reference. The book claims to handle the period 1930 to 1980, though spilling over into the recent {The Full Monty phenomenon has already dated its predictions). It all echoes Stephen Frears and his chums, opening their British Centenary of the Cinema documen­ tary with “I have no idea what happened before 1930.” Films and personnel discussed tend to be those which made it to the London Classic Repertory Cine­ mas (think of a ’60s Valhalla), a range limited by the survival of prints and the middle-class tastes of its audience. Michael Powell is venerated. There’s a nod towards Korda, Asquith, Hitchcock, Wilcox. Joseph Losey provides “a dark and dangerous poetry”. This could have been the moment to blow the dust off talents like director Arthur Woods1, star

Matheson Lang2, cameraman Basil Emmot3 and the others that the determined few - running battered 16mm library copies and scouring silly-slot television - pick up on. The book’s limits undervalue one of the few genuinely fruitful periods in British Cinema, the early sound years when the push-me, pull-me forces of the Hollywood dollar and the Nazi advance had half the quality filmmaking talent in the world, rolling through English studios, lifting the game of the local tradition of silly-ass comics

Brian McFarlane foreword by

Julie Christie

saved by their butlers, outposts of Empire and wiley islanders. Now the one outstanding aspect of ’30s British film was its design, with the staggering roll of talent represented: Lazare Meerson, Vetchinsky, Erno Metzner, Cameron Menzies, Vincent Korda, Alexander Andreyew, Alfred Junge and the rest, shaping the tradition of John Bryan and Ken Adam. Here only the odd couple of art directors get a bio, though a few edge in from other subjects’ recollections. The author is unwilling to bite the bullet on just how awful the quota support features were, treating sympa­ thetically some of the tackiest. Ken Hughes, who was the one individ­ ual who managed to stir these out of an overlit, under-funded torpor, only rates passing references. McFarlane homes in on the post-war yearsRank and Margaret Lockwood - but he does treat the improved British prod­ uct following Room at the Top flack Clayton, 1959), his moviegoer experience there overlapping the taste of’60s BFI opinion-makers. I don’t share his admi­ ration of Lewis Allen’s stodgy So Evil My Love (1948) or Michael Winner’s lumbering A Chorus of Dis­ approval (1988), though I’d endorse Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill (1948) and wait for him to explain why it’s bet­ ter than Laurence Huntingdon’s other work. To be fair to the writer, when he does pick up on

something under-documented, like Lance Comfort’s early films, he runs into the old problem of an interviewer fresh from viewings, dealing with subjects like Deborah Kerr, whose iong-forgotten work has not been considered for decades. Unless films continue to circulate, they tumble into the void. Writing in a country which hasn’t had a Cinematheque since the Aus­ tralian NFT disappeared 20 years ago, this is a familiar hazard. McFarlane does have the skill of reproducing his subjects plausi­ bly. I can hear the voices of many of the people I contacted myself and that’s no small pleasure. There are the usual quota of minor errors: Jack Nicholson in Primary Colors (Mike Nichols); what about Anna Massey’s part in Chil­ dren on Trial (Jack Lee, 1946)?; and someone somewhere in the editing process should have wondered about Michael Medwin’s reference to “Kali Lug” films. The stills are ordinary and not particularly well reproduced, though having a por­ trait of each subject helps, and the layout and production are good with an extensive but gappy index. At forty dollars, it’s reasonable value and anyone interested will enjoy dipping into it, though I’d be surprised to find someone solemnly reading it cover to cover. © BARRIE PATTISON

1 They Drive By Night (1938), Busman’s Holiday (1940). 2 A Channel Crossing (Milton Rosmer, 1933), The Cardinal (Sinclair Hill, 1936). 3 Drifters (John Grierson, 1929), The Prime Minister (Thorold Dickinson, 1941), Wicked As They Come (Ken Hughes, 1956).

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


BACK SEE TEAR-OUT Number 1 (January 1974) David Williamson, Ray Harryhausen, Peter Weir, Antony Ginnane, Gillian Armstrong, Ken G. Hall, The Cars th a t A te Paris Number 2 (April 1974) Censorship, Frank Moorhouse, Nicolas Roeg, Sandy Harbutt, Film under Allende, Between the W ars, A lvin Purple Number 3 (July 1974) Richard Brennan, John Papadopolous, W illis O’Brien, William Friedkin, The True Story of Eskimo N e ll Number 4 (December 1974) Bill Shepherd, Cliff Green, Werner Herzog, Between Wars, Petersen, A Salute to the Great MacArthy Number 5 (M arch-April 1975) Albie Thoms on surf movies, Charles Chauvel filmogra­ phy, Ross Wood, Byron Haskin, Brian Probyn, Inn

o f the Damned Number 6 SOLD OUT Number 7 SOLD OUT Number 8 (March-April 1976) Pat Lovell, Richard Zanuck, Sydney Pollack, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Phillip Adams, Don McAlpine, Don's Party Number 9 (June-July 1976) Milos Forman, Max Lemon, Miklos Jancso, Luchino Visconti, Caddie,

The D evil's Playground Number 10 (Sept-Oct 1976) Nagisa Oshima, Philippe Mora, Krzysztof Zanussi, Marco Ferreri, Marco Bellocchio, gay cinema Number 11 (January 1977) Emile De Antonio, Jill Robb, Samuel Z. Arkoff, Roman Polanski, Saul Bass, The Picture Show M an Number 12 (April 1977) Ken Loach, Tom Haydon, Donald Sutherland, Bert Deling, Piero Tosi, John Dankworth, John Scot, Days o f Hope, The Getting o f Wisdom Number 13 (July 1977) Louis Malle, Paul Cox, John Power, Jeanine Seawell, Peter Sykes, Bernardo Bertolucci, In Search o f Anna Number 14 (October 1977) Phil Noyce, Matt Carroll, Eric Rohmer, Terry Jackman, John Huston, Luke's Kingdom, The Last

Wave, Blue Fire Lady Number 15 (January 1978) Tom Cowan, Truffaut, John Faulkner, Stephen W allace, the Taviani brothers, Sri Lankan film. The

Chant o f Jim m ie Blacksm ith Number 16 (AprilJune 1978) Gunnel Lindblom, John Duigan, Steven Spielberg, Tom Jeffrey, The A fric a Project, Swedish cinema, Dawn!, P atrick Number 17 (AugSept 1978) Bill Bain, Isabelle Huppert, Brian May, Polish cinema, N ew sfront, The N ig h t the P row ler Number 18 (Oct-Nov 1978) John Lamond, Sonia Borg, Alain Tanner, Indian cinema, Dimboola, Cathy's Child Number 19 (Jan-Feb 1979) Antony Ginnane, Stanley Hawes, Jeremy Thomas, Andrew Sarris, sponsored documentaries, Blue Fin Number 20 (M arch-April 1979) Ken Cameron, Claude Lelouch, Jim Sharman, French film, M y

B rillia n t Career Number 21 (May-June 1979) Vietnam on Film, the Cantrills, French cinema, M ad M ax, Snapshot, The Odd A ng ry Shot, Franklin on Hitchcock Number 22 (July-Aug 1979) Bruce Petty, Luciana Arrighi, Albie Thoms, Stax, A lison's

B irthday Number 23 SOLD OUT Number 24 (DecJan 1980) Brian Trenchard Smith, Ian Holmes, Arthur Hiller, Jerzy Toeplitz, Brazilian cinema, Harlequin Number 25 (Feb-March 1980) David Puttnam, Janet Strickland, Everett de Roche, Peter Faiman, Chain Reaction, S tir Number 26 (AprilM ay 1980) Charles H. Joffe, Jerome Heilman, Malcolm Smith, Australian nationalism, Japanese cinema, Peter Weir, W ater Under the Bridge Number 27 (June-July 1980) Randal Kleiser, Peter Yeldham, Donald Richie, obituary of Hitchcock, NZ film industry, Grendel Grendel Grendel Number 28 (Aug-Sept 1980) Bob Godfrey, Diane Kurys, Tim Burns, John O'Shea, Bruce Beresford, Bad Timing, Roadgames Number 29 (Oct-Nov 1980) Bob Ellis, Uri Windt, Edward Woodward, Lino Brocka, Stephen Wallace, Philippine cinema, Cruising, The Last O utlaw Number 30 (Dec 1980-Jan 1981) Sam Fuller, 'B re a k e r'M o ra n t rethought, Richard Lester, Canada supplement, The Chain Reaction, Blood M oney Number 31 (March-April 1981) Bryan Brown, looking in on Dressed to Kill, The Last Outlaw, Fatty Finn, Windows-, lesbian as villain, the new generation Number 32 (May-June 1981) Judy David, David Williamson, Richard Rush, Swinburne, Cuban cinema, Public Enemy Num ber One, The A lternative Number 33 (June-July 1976) John Duigan, the new tax concessions, Robert Altman, Tomas Gutierrez Alea, Edward Fox, Gallipoli,

Roadgames Numbers 34 and 35 SOLD OUT Number 36 (February 1982) Kevin Dobson, Brian Kearney, Sonia Hofmann, Michael Rubbo, B low Out, 'B reaker' M orant, Body Heat, The M an from Snow y River Number 37 (April 1982) Stephen MacLean, Jacki Weaver, Carlos Saura, Peter

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998

Ustinov, women in drama. M onkey Grip Number 38 (June 1982) Geoff Burrowes, George Miller, James Ivory, Phil Noyce, Joan Fontaine, Tony Williams, law and insurance, Far East Number 39 (August 1982) Helen Morse, Richard Mason, Anja Breien, David Millilkan, Derek Granger, Norwegian cine­ ma, National Film Archive, We o f the N ever Never Number 40 (October 1982) Henri Safran, Michael Ritchie, Pauline Kael, Wendy Hughes, Ray Barrett,

M y D inner w ith Andre, The Return o f Captain Invincible Number 41 (December 1982) Igor Auzins, Paul Schrader, Peter Tammer, Liliana Cavani, Colin Higgins, The Year o f Living Dangerously Number 42 (March 1983) Mel Gibson, John Waters, Ian Pringle, Agnes Varda, copyright, Strikebound, The M an from Snow y River Number 43 (May-June 1983) Sydney Pollack, Denny Lawrence, Graeme Clifford, The Dismissal, Sumner Locke Elliott's Careful He M ig h t Hear You Number 44-45 (April 1984) David Stevens, Simon Wincer, Susan Lambert, a personal history of Cinema Papers, S treet Kids Number 46 (July 1984) Paul Cox, Russell Mulcahy, Alan J. Pakula, Robert Duvall, Jeremy Irons, Eureka Stockade,

W aterfront, The B oy in the Bush, A Woman Suffers, S treet Hero Number 47 (August 1984) Richard Lowenstein, Wim Wenders, David Bradbury, Sophia Turkiewicz, Hugh Hudson,

Robbery Under Arm s Number 48 (Oct-Nov 1984) Ken Cameron, Michael Pattinson, Jan Sardi, Yoram Gross, Bodyline, The Slim Dusty M ovie Number 49 (December 1984) Alain Resnais, Brian McKenzie, Angela Punch McGregor, Ennio Morricone, Jane Campion, horror films, N iel Lynne Number 50 (FebMarch 1985) Stephen Wallace, Ian Pringle, Walerian Borowczyk, Peter Schreck, Bill Conti, Brian May, The Last Bastion, Bliss Number 51 (May 1985) Lino Brocka, Harrison Ford, Noni Hazlehurst, Dusan Makavejev, Emoh Ruo, Winners,

M orris W est's The Naked Country, M ad M ax Beyond Thunderdome, Robbery Under Arm s Number 52 (July 1985) John Schlesinger, Gillian Armstrong, Alan Parker, soap operas, TV news, film advertising. D on't Call M e Girlie, For Love

Alone, Double Sculls Number 53 (September 1985) Brian Brown, Nicolas Roeg, Vincent Ward, Hector Crawford, Emir Kusturica, NZ film and TV, Return to Eden Number 54 (November 1985) Graeme Clifford, Bob Weis, John Boorman, Menahem Golan, rock videos, W ills and Burke, The Great Bookie

Robbery, The Lancaster M ille r A ffa ir Number 55 (January 1986) James Stewart, Debbie Byrne, Brian Thompson, Paul Verhoeven, Derek Meddings, tie-in marketing, The Right Hand Man, Birdsville Number 56 (March 1986) Fred Schepisi, Dennis O’Rourke, Brian Trenchard-Smith, John Hargreaves, Dead-end Drive-in, The M ore Things Change ..., Kangaroo, Tracy Number 57 SOLD OUT Number 58 (July 1986) Woody Allen, Reinhard Hauff, Orson Welles, the Cinémathèque Française,

The Fringe Dwellers, Great Expectations: The Untold Story, The Last Frontier Number 59 (September 1986) Robert Altman, Paul Cox, Lino Brocka, Agnes Varda, the AFI Awards, The M overs Number 60 (November 1986) Australian television. Franco Zeffirelli, Nadia Tass, Bill Bennett, Dutch cinema, movies by microchip, Otello Number 61 (January 1987) Alex Cox, Roman Polanski, Philippe Mora, Martin Arminger, film in South Australia,

Dogs in Space, How ling III Number 62 (March 1987) Screen violence, David Lynch, Cary Grant, A SSA conference, production barometer, film finance. The Story o f the Kelly Gang Number 63 (May 1987) Gillian Armstrong, Antony Ginnane, Chris Haywood, Elmore Leonard, Troy Kennedy Martin, The Sacrifice, Landslides, Pee W ee's Big Adventure, Jilte d Number 64 (July 1987) Nostalgia, Dennis Hopper, Mel Gibson, Vladimir Osherov, Brian Trenchard Smith, chartbusters, Insatiable Number 65 (September 1987) Angela Carter, Wim Wenders, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Derek Jarman, Gerald L’Ecuyer, Gustav Hasford, AFI Awards, Poor

M an's Orange Number 66 (November 1987) Australian screenwriters, cinema and China, James Bond: part 1, James Clayden, Video, De Laurentiis, New World, The Navigator, W ho’s That Girl Number 67 (January 1988) John Duigan, James Bond: part 2, George Miller, Jim Jarmusch, Soviet cinema, women in film, 70mm, filmmaking in Ghana, The Year M y Voice Broke, Send A Gorilla

A Guide to W hat’s in Stock

TO ORDER

Number 68 (M arch 1988) Martha Ansara, Channel 4, Soviet cinema: part 2, Jim McBride, Glamour, Ghosts Of The Civil Dead, Feathers, Ocean, Ocean Number 69 (M ay 1988) Sex, death and family films, Cannes '88, film composers, Vincent Ward, David Parker, Ian Bradley, Pleasure Domes Number 70 (November 1988) Film Australia, Gillian Armstrong, Fred Schepisi, Wes Craven, John Waters, Al Clark, Shame screenplay part 1 Number 71 (January 1989) Yahoo Serious, David Cronenberg, 1988 in retrospect, film sound, Last Temptation o f Christ, Philip Brophy Number 72 (March 1989) Little Dorrit, Australian sci-fi movies, 1988 mini-series, Aromarama, Celia, La dolce Vita, women and Westerns Number 73 (May 1989) Cannes '89, Dead Calm, Franco Nero, Jane Campion, The P risoner o f St. Petersburg, Frank Pierson, Pay TV Number 74 (July 1989) The Delinquents, Australians in Hollywood, Chinese cinema, Philippe Mora, Yuri Sokol, Twins, G hosts... o f the Civil Dead, Shame screenplay Number 75 (September 1989) Sally Bongers, the teen movie, animated, Edens Lost, Pet Sematary, Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader, Ed Pressman Number 76 (November 1989) Simon Wincer, Quigley Down Under, Kennedy Miller, Terry Hayes, Bangkok Hilton, John Duigan, Flirting, Romero, Dennis Hopper, Frank Howson, Ron Cobb Number 77 (January 1990) John Farrow mono­ graph, Blood Oath, Dennis Whitburn, Brian Williams, Don McLennan, Breakaway, "C rocodile" Dundee overseas Number 78 (March 1990) The Crossing, Ray Argali, Return Home, Peter Greenaway and The Cook..., Michel Ciment,

Bangkok Hilton, B arlow and Chambers Number 79 SOLD OUT Number 80 (August 1990) Cannes report, Fred Schepisi career interview, Peter Weir and Greencard, Pauline Chan, Gus Van Sant and Drugstore Cowboy, German stories Number 81 (December 1990) Ian Pringle Isabelle Eberhardt, Jane Campion, An A ngel A t M y Table, Martin Scorsese and Goodfellas, Presumed Innocent

Number 82 (March 1991) The Godfather P art III, Barbet Schroeder, Reversal o f Fortune, B lack Robe, Raymond Hollis Longford, Backsliding Number 83 (M ay 1991) Australia at Cannes, Gillian Armstrong, The Last Days a t Chez Nous, The Silence o f the Lambs, Flynn, Dead to the World, Anthony Hopkins, Spotswood Number 84 (August 1991) James Cameron and Term inator2: Judgem ent Day, Dennis O'Rourke, Good Woman o f Bangkok, Susan Dermody, Breathing Under Water, Cannes report, FFC Number 85 (November 1991) Jocelyn Moorhouse, Proof, Blake Edwards, S witch ; Callie Khouri: Thelma & Louise: indepen­ dent exhibition and distribution, FFC part 2 Number 86 (January 1992) Romper Stomper, The Nostradamus Kid, Greenkeeping, Eightball, Kathryn Bigelow, HDTV and Super 16 Number 87 (March 1992) Multi-cultural cinema, Steven Spielberg, Hook, George Negus and The Red Unknown, Richard Lowenstein, Say a Little Prayer, Jewish cinema Number 88 (May-June 1992) S trictly

Ballroom, Hammers Over the Anvil, Daydream Believer, Wim Wender's Until The End o f the World, Satyajit Ray Number 89 (August 1992) Cannes '92, David Lynch, Vitali Kanievski, Gianni Amelio, Fortress, film-literature connections, teen movies debate Number 90 (October 1992) The Last Days o f Chez Nous, Ridley Scott: 1492, Stephen Elliott: Frauds, Giorgio Mangiamele, Cultural Differences and Ethnicity in Australian Cinema, John Frankenheimer’s Year o f the Gun Number 91 (January 1993) Clint Eastwood and Unforgiven: Raul Ruiz, George Miller and Gross M isco n d uct David Elfick's Love in Limbo, On the Beach, Australia's first films: part 1 Number 92 (April 1993) Reckless Kelly, George Miller and Lorenzo's Oil, Megan Simpson, Alex, The Lover, women in film and television, Australia's first films: part 2 Number 93 (May 1993) Jane Campion and The Piano, Laurie Mclnnes and Broken Highway, Tracey Moffatt and Bedevil, Lightworks and Avid, Australia's first films: part 3 Number 94 (August 1993) Cannes '94, Steve Buscemi and Reservoir Dogs, Paul Cox, Michael Jenkin's The Heartbreak Kid, 'Coming of Age' films, Australia's first films: part 4 Number 95 (October I993) Lynn-Marie Milburn's M em ories & Dreams, Franklin on the science of previews, The Custodian, documentary supple­ ment, Tom Zubricki, John Hughes, Australia's first

films: part 5 Number 96 (December 1993) Queensland issue: overview of film in Queensland, early Queensland cinema, Jason Donovan and Donald Crombie, Rough Diamonds, Australia's first films: part 6 Number 97-8 (April 1994) 20th Anniversary double issue with New Zealand sup­ plement, Simon W incer and Lightning Jack, Richard Franklin on leaving America, Australia's first films: part 7 Number 99 (June 1994) Krzysztof Kieslowski, Ken G. Hall Tribute, cinematography supplement, Geoffrey Burton, Pauline Chan and Traps, Australia's first films: Part 8 Number 100 (August 1994) Cannes '94, NSW supplement, Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddah, The Sum o f Us, Spider & Rose, film and the digital world, Australia's first films: part 9 Number 101 (October 1994) Priscilla, Queen o f the Desert, Victorian sup­ plement, P. J. Hogan and M u rie l's Wedding, Ben Lewin and Lucky Break, Australia's first films: Part 9 Number 102 (December 1994) Once Were Warriors, films we love, Back o f Beyond, Cecil Holmes, Lindsay Anderson, Body M elt, AFC supple­ ment, Spider & Rose, Australia's First Rims: Part 10 Number 103 (March 1995) Little Women, Gillian Armstrong, Queensland supplement, Geoffrey Simpson, Heavenly Creatures, Eternity, Australia's First Films Number 104 (June 1995) Cannes Mania,

B illy's Holiday, A ngel Baby, Epsilon, Vacant Possession, Richard Franklin, Australia's First Films: Part 12 Number 105 (August 1995) Mark Joffe's Cosi, Jacqueline McKenzie, Slawomir Idziak, Cannes Review, Gaumont Retrospective, Marie Craven, Dad & Dave Number 106 (October 1995) Gerard Lee and John Maynard on A ll M en A re Liars, Sam Neil, The Small Man, Under the Gun, AFC low budget seminar Number 107 (December 1995) George Miller and Chris Noonan talk about Babe, New trends in criticism, The rise of boutique cinema Number 108 (February 1996) Conjuring John Hughes' W hat I Have Written, Cthulu, The Top 100 Australian Films, Nicole Kidman in To Die For Number 109 (April 1996) Rachel Griffiths runs the gamut, Toni Collette and Cosi, Sundance Film Festival, Michael Tolkin, Morals and the Mutoscope Number 110 (June 1996) Rolf de Heer travels to Cannes, Clara Law's new home, Shirley Barrett's Love Serenade, Richard Franklin Number 111 (August 1996) Scott Hicks and Shine, The Three Chinas, Trusting Christopher Doyle, Love and Other Catastrophes Number 112 (October 1996) Lawrence Johnston's Life, Return of the Mavericks, Queensland Supplement Part 1, Sighting the Unseen, Richard Lowenstein Number 113 (December 1996) Peter Jackson's The Frighteners, SPAA-AFI supplement, Lee Robinson, Sunday Too Far Away, H otel de

Love, Children o f the Revolution Number 114 (February 1997) Baz Luhrmann's W illiam Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Dean Cundey, SPAA: The Aftermath, Id io t Box, Zone 39 Number 115 (April 1997) John Seale and The English Patient, N ew sfront, The Castle, Ian Baker, Robert Krasker Number 116 (May 1997) Cannes '97 Preview, Samantha Lang's The Well, Kiss o r Kill, Phillip Noyce and The Saint, Heaven's Burning. Number 117 (June 1997) Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz talk to James Sherlock, Monica Pellizzari, Aleka dosen't live here anymore. The M an from Kangaroo Number 118 (July 1997) Terry Rawlings, Frans Vandenburg and Ken Sallows, Low-budget independent filmmaking, Stephen Amis' Alive Tribe, SMPTE '97 Number 119 (August

1997) Ben Mendelsohn: Home Town Boy, Cannes 50th International du Rim asks Is Cinema Dead?, Gregor Nicholas' Broken English Number 120 (October 1997) Miranda Otto, Frank Moorhouse, Two Studios and a World of Difference Inbetween, Hawks and Ford Retrospective Number 121 (November 1997) LA Confidential's Demon Dogs, Stephan Elliot at Cannes, Exile in Sarajevo, Japanese independent film Number 122 (December 1997) Score! Cezary Skubiszewski, David Hirshfelder and Eric Serra, Mandy Walker: All in a Days Work, New Zealand film Number 123 (March 1998) M att Day, A Six-Pack of Talent, Michael Winterbottom's Exile in Sarajevo, Young filmmakers get Loud Number 124 (May 1998) Alex Proyas' Dark City, Peter Jackson's nightmare, Kerry Fox, Festival of Australian Film

53


Your life is a series of shots. You see a 5-alarm fire and you think: helicopter, high angle. But when the

tim e comes to actually shoot it, you know you'll only have one chance. As the only company dedicated

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MORE t h a n MEETS t h e EYI


Top telecines by Barrie Smith

A

s you move from the shoot to the post stage, do not for any reason underestimate

the role of telecine. Chatswood facility zerOlzerO is winning acclaim - and business - for its film to tape transfers. High-end commercials - “That’s the market we’re basically aiming for and it appears we seem to be getting it”, says telecine colourist Scott Mclean. Like many businesses, the fllm/television production industries no longer lope along on fat budgets and leisurely schedules. Price and performance are uppermost - and any company, particularly one in the post area, which forgets that will be left behind in the wake. Loyalty for its own sake seems to have gone out the window as well, so post jobs often swirl around two or three specialist facilities to achieve the producers’ demands. These days, it is not uncommon for the original neg to be transferred at facility A, edited at facility B, then submitted to heavyduty CGI work at another. C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998

zerOlzerO began as a posting oper­ ation for Harry Michaels’ programme production activities, which began in analog format. But these days the company has Henry V8 for composit­ ing and digital effects, as well as Hal Xpress. There is a digital suite and an analog suite and two Avids.

URSA Whilst the quality of the equipment used in film transfers is important, senior colourist Les Rudge sees his and Scott Mclean’s roles as crucial in the company’s visibility:

Almost everyone has the same equipment in town at the moment, but we’d be basically one of the high-end telecine houses. At the moment, we have an URSA Gold, which is about to be upgraded to an URSA Diamond. Da Vinci 888 Renaissance is in the chain, so Mclean and Rudge “can do film grading and tape grading”, but Rudge adds,

Most people can do that as well. So you can’t really sell on equipment. What we try and push is the actual people. Of course, you have to be compe­ tent in what you do, but it also

comes down to being able to trans­ late from what the client thinks to what they see on the screen. I guess that’s part of the trick. And it comes down to personal skill: you have to be able to do the job - and make clients feel comfortable and relaxed. The role of telecine in the deployment of high-end CGI effects is critical not only for what the equipment can contribute, but how the operator approaches the work, and the manner in which he delivers the material for the successive post-production stages. Mclean:

People sometime ask advice, espe­ cially when they are getting into effects work ... questions about blue screen shooting, whether it will key in correctly, etc. And sometimes there are jobs, especially jobs that

stay in-house, where a client will come and say, “OK, I want to do this. What’s the best way we can go about doing it?” And because we’ll be doing the whole solution, we can then give it so much more. The pair are looking forward to commis­ sioning the Diamond upgrade for URSA. Mclean, in particular, has noticed how many ‘wise’ DOPs are now shooting film ‘clean’ - i.e., without colour filtra­ tion or diffusion - and relying on URSA to input any corrections or cosmetic touches at tape-transfer stage. Les Rudge admits he

cannot recall the last time I saw film come here which had been filtered at the original photography stage. They are leaving a lot of things until later. We get in touch at the preproduction stage; they may say, “Forget it. I want to do it in camera”, but we suggest we can do it later. That avoids the com­ mitment of being stuck with a certain look. You then have the option to change at transfer. In the next couple of years, the two colourists see a demand for HighDef telecines. Scott Mclean feels an HDTV transfer option will be a client ‘sweetener’ to go to a certain place. So, if you think life is compli­ cated enough now with high-level telecine transfers, just wait for HighDef!

55


te c h n ic a litie s

Post-production - An update by Barrie Smith omputerized effects are making inroads into many levels of film production. The work of cinematographers is directly affected, as is that of operators in post houses as they face the need to handle materials from many differing standards - both in video and computer orbits. And, in terms of stan­ dards, even the sound department is facing challenges. For this report, we took a round-up of what’s happening in three very different organizations.

Not so much the am bience...

Years ago, many post houses estab­ lished a clear self-image - both for marketing and for just purely pulling the clients through the door. Doug Merryman, of Ambience Post

Design in Crows Nest, Sydney, considers the company as still a “young facility” - at eight years of age-but adds:

We are somewhat different to a normal facility, in as far as we pro­ vide all of the hardware, but we go a lot further in terms of software .. the software being our people.

The vast majority of Ambience’s activi­ ties are, as Merryman explains them, “almost exclusively film originated and almost exclusively commercials”. Recent output included a RAMS home-loans commercial, one for Toy­ ota Camry, a Vidal Sassoon ad, plus

another for the Jobs Net­ work. Currently under way is a top-secret project, involving “some pretty intense character anima­ tion” on a TVC. Perhaps unusually well-configured, the com­ pany is running a Flame, a Henry, a completely upgraded Hal, plus a com­ bination of Paintboxes and MAX design suites along with a complete 3D studio - and two Avids. The house concept is unusual also: in terms of areas like 3D, a number of years back Ambience made a strategic decision to go with MAX systems and MAX software pack­ ages on the NT platform, even then seeing the benefits of its interconnec­ tivity. When asked how he felt the market viewed Ambience, Doug Merryman replied that,

The feedback that we get from peo­ ple it is that we will go the extra distance to produce the product the one that they didn’t think was possible to achieve. Merryman considers his team to be

lucky to be working with very highcalibre people. All of our operators are hired on the precept that they’re designers, not just operators, so we have the ability to work the gear to produce some pretty amazing things with it. B. S.

Easing the interface With so many elements to handle in 1990s film and television production, there are bound to be hitches in the interface. Most editing is done very satisfac­ torily on systems such as Avid, which are-compared to film - o f much lower display resolution. When faced with out-of-the-ordinary effects sequences, the editor needs some reassurance before the work is committed to nega­ tive conformation or even an online assembly. Frameworks sees its role in this tricky region as important. The compa­ ny’s James Sdrinis sees its specialty as “guiding people through those inter­ faces and aiding communication with the specialist bureaux”. While recog­ nizing that the Avid is

very easy to edit with, there’s the communication problems with

56

C I N E M A P A P E R S • JUNE 1998


LES

RUDGE

C O L O U R I S T

7 M c C A B E P L A C E W I L L O U G H B Y N S W 2 0 6 8 A U S T R A L I A 02 9 4 1 7 5 7 0 0 F A X 02 9 4 1 7 5 8 7 9 POST P R O D U C T I O N GR A P H IC S SPECIAL EFFECTS S T U D I O S O U T S I D E B R O A D C A S T w w w

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e r o i z e r o .c o m .a u


te c h n ic a litie s

facility is currently accomplished by selecting a single type of machine. Production is often performed across multiple facilities, however, which means materials must be transferred between them on tape. Transfers to and from this medium eat up a large portion of the potential profits promised by digital technologies, as well as losing the ability to adjust the material later using original material. There is need for compatible file formats for a start. Fairlight applauds Avid’s work with OMF (Open Media Framework) but believes the concept needs to be taken several steps further before it will be adopted by the majority of industry players. John Flaeny, International Product Manager, Fairlight ESP, stresses,

Fairlight already supports the OMF format and is pursuing a file infor­ mation exchange agreement with Avid and Digidesign. We are willing to do whatever is necessary to facili­ tate direct compatibility between digital systems in our industry. So, post-production at this stage is obviously still a moving target - for both equipment and operating techniques. B. S.

Frame, Set & Match Upgrades optical houses which may still be working in an old-fashioned method. On many productions, he has noted many editors are pre-visualizing opti­ cal effects on the Avid; but, on many occasions, there is the need to see sequences at a higher resolution. Says Sdrinis,

The Avids themselves are awfully good machines, but not always the best machines to view something on. As an example of the company’s approach, he quotes a film currently in from Singapore, Forever Fever:

The edit team needed to find out whether some opticals were going to work at a higher resolution com­ pared to the offline resolution [on Avid], So they went to Frame, Set & Match, which we helped pro­ vided EDLs for, and came up with a large number of scenarios. These were cut in to the Avid, and from

58

there we prepared EDTs and cut lists for people to be able to work on negs.

oping the Avid interface “in what is bound to be a more graphics intensive industry”. B. S.

Taking it further, on major budget films editors tend to prepare a mock-up on the Avid, then send the tape to one of the higher-end houses such as Digital Pictures or Dfilm. A test negative is pre­ pared at a lower resolution, then cut in on the Avid, so the editors and direc­ tors can see whether it’s actually going to work. When things are locked off, the graphics house is finally able to render things at the highest resolution and output to film. Frameworks is currently providing post facilities for a children’s television show, Treasure Island-, an SBS pro­ gramme called Flouse Gang-, whilst operating an Avid on site for the RPA television show, as well as supplying two Avids and AV networking facilities on Babe in Metropolis. Sdrinis can see the company devel­

Fairlight ESP is a well-established name in audio. The one common denominator in posting used to be the sound side, but with cross-overs happening in digital imaging, CGI, video and film matters are getting a little tangled. Fairlight explains that audio engi­ neers and editors grew up in a world of compatibility in analogtape and film systems. Now, with digital post work­ stations such as Avid and Lightworks, they want the same utility and conve­ nience in digital-audio systems. Compatibility means users can select products solely based on fea­ ture sets, price point, capacity and performance. Compatibility within a

Sound for all

Frame, Set & Match has upgraded its telecine to an URSA Diamond. The URSA Diamond offers significant improvements over its predecessor, the URSA Gold. This includes Scandal to minimize saw-tooth edges, Twiggi for reduction and Diamond Set. Cou­ pled with Metaspeed and Real Time Steadigates, the URSA Diamond con­ tinues to be acknowledged by DOPs and directors as the best machine in the country. Further improvements to the Da Vinci Renaissance Colour Grader are due for installation in May. This includes EDWin, offering windows that can be drawn to any shape, a new oper­ ational panel and an upgrade to SGI’s 02 computer. The upgrade will improve the overall speed and efficiency of what is already recognized as the industry’s premiere grading system. More than $350,000 has been spent on the improvements and rein­ forces Frame, Set & Match’s commitment to film and its use for commercials and television pro­ grammes. T. H. C I N E M A P A P E R S • JUNE 1998


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t e c h n ic a lit ie s

Against the grain: Walter Lassally b y L in d s a y A m o s

W

alter Lassally exclaims in mock exasperation,

“I didn’t set out to be a rebel, but I suppose I’ve ended up being one. What did Robbie Burns say? There’s a verse about that isn’t there?” There is indeed (though neither of us could recall it at the time): 0 wad som e P o w ’r the giftie gie us To see ourselves as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us A n ’ foolish notion: What airs in dress a n ’gait wad lea’e us, A nd e v’n Devotion!

Somehow, it didn’t seem to be even slightly unusual for the German-born, British-based Lassally to be invoking a Scottish poet. On a 10-day visit to Aus­ tralia as a guest of the Sydney Film Festival, the 70-year-old, selfdescribed “itinerant cameraman” kept to a punishing schedule. As well as the Film Festival’s two-night seminar were workshops at the Australian Film Tele­ vision & Radio School, and screenings of his 1966 documentary, The Greeks, at various Greek community clubs. At Sydney’s Castellorizian Club, Lassally, a fluent Greek speaker, was welcomed as one of their own, and he took the opportunity to shoot interview mater­ ial for a follow-up documentary on Greek migrants using his ever-present Hi-8 camera. Perhaps Lassally’s political instincts were honed right from the time he photographed his first film; a threeminute trailer warning of the dangers of smoking in bed. This was 1950, and the intervening period has seen Las­ sally working (on features and documentaries) with British directors such as Lindsay Anderson, Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz - the so-called Free Cinema era - and become a regu­ lar collaborator with Michael Cacoyannis and James Ivory. His fil­ mography is studded with now-famous shorts like M om m a D o n ’t Allow (Karel Reisz, 1956) and Every Day Except Christmas (Lindsay Anderson, 1957), as well as the features Electra (Michael Cacoyannis, 1962), 4 Taste of Honey (Tony Richardson, 1961), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962), Sa va ges Games Ivory, 1972), Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963) and Heat and Dust Games Ivory, 1983). Lassally’s first feature was the independentlyfinanced Another Sky, directed by the then-editor of Sight & Sound, Gavin Lambert. This rarely-seen film (shot in Morocco) was recently screened in New York. Lassally comments:

62

It was a very good experience for me and was the first time I was able to incorporate documentary

techniques in the making of a feature film. There are a number of instances in Z o rb a [th e G reek, Michael Cacoyannis, 1964] and almost all of my other features where documentary techniques stood me in good stead. But I always considered that there was a large overlap between features and documentaries, a certain cross-fertilization which takes place between them. At the seminar on his work, Lassally seemed unfazed by any of the questions thrown at him. If he thought the questioner was confused, he’d say so. When there weren’t any questions forthcoming, he asked his own. To illustrate the discussion, Lassally screened long excerpts from Zorba the Greek, 4 Taste of Honey, Tom Jones and Heat and Dust, all of which exemplify what Lassally still agrees is his favourite review of his work: “Very discreet, precise and with­ out tricks.” “Did you shoot Zorba the Greek in black and white for artistic reasons?”, queried one viewer well into

colour is effectively used. Most of the time it’s just there, and it’s something you have to put up with. If you look at three of Cacoyannis’ Greek tragedies, E le c tra , I p b ig e n ia [1977] and T h e T ro ­ ja n W o m en [1971], it’s striking to me how the black-and-white film [E le c tra ] is 100 percent more effective than the colour ones. E le c tra is, to my mind, the best film I’ve ever shot. It has a wonderful unity of style and it was a very difficult movie to make from that point of view. Every­ thing had to be controlled very tightly and, if you put one foot outside these stylistic limits, it was immediately apparent. None of this means that Lassally is hankering for the past. He readily admits that the great black-andwhite era is over, and he has tackled the problems of shooting in colour with characteristic audacity. Zorba the Greek, Lassally’s fifth film for Michael Cacoyan­ nis, was actually made two years after Lassally’s first colour film, Tom Jones. It happens to contain certain

0

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/// the first evening session. “Yes? Very definitely, yes!”, Lassally emphasized:

is in black and white, but only just. If this film had been a project in 1966,1 wouldn’t have stood a chance in hell of making it in black and white. Colour is very much harder to control than black and white. The nice thing about black and white is that it can be stylized: you can make your own style, and you can shape that style much more successfully than you can in colour. I can only think of a handful of colour films where

Z o rb a

key scenes which illustrate the techniques used in achieving the kind of stylization he enjoys. Even today, these skills are still relevant. The occasional music video, commercial, documentary or feature made in black-and-white still looks arresting, instantly signalling class, elegance, even art. Lassally’s relationship with Cacoyannis seems close to ideal:

The interesting thing about him - almost unique in my experience - is that he wrote all his own scripts, not in scenes but in shots; [he did that] C I N E M A P A P E R S ♦ J UNE 1998


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te c h n ic a lit ie s

certainly for A G irl in B la c k [1957], not quite to the same extent in Z o rb a , but it was written in a very detailed way. For­ tunately, his visual sense overlapped with my own to a great degree, so we could indulge in the considerable lux­ ury, in the light of later experience, of him leaving the visual side to me and yet getting exactly what he wanted. He didn’t have to constantly check through the camera. We established this working-relationship on the very first movie we made together; by the time we made Z o rb a , it had become second nature. To demonstrate lighting a location interior, Lassally used as an example a room repre­ senting the modest lodgings of Basil (Alan Bates), also explaining the difference between “sunlight” and “daylight”:

You can fairly easily simulate the effect of a sunlit room by the use of spotlights, but it’s much more difficult to simulate the effect of just daylight coming in through the windows. You also have a problem if you use the windows to light through. My solution was daylight filtered appropriately through ND filters on the window. It’s always a question of balancing the exterior and interior, and maintaining the detail on the curtain, to make sure it doesn’t become a brilliant white triangle. For the lighting inside, we had a kind of primi­ tive grid system fixed to the ceiling so we could hand spotlights from the ceiling, which fortu­ nately was quite high. So, the room is lit with a mixture of 2Ks and IKs hanging from the beams, taking care that you don’t get any strong shadows anywhere, because in a situation where you have daylight, but not sunlight, coming through the window, a very strong shadow would look unnatural. Lassally then screened what he called the most difficult scene he’s ever had to photograph, where Basil visits The Widow (Irene Papas):

It’s a scene played in white and light greys: It was very difficult because it starts with an oil lamp on in the room and, in the first third of the scene, she blows that out; there is no moonlight, so one is left with non-source lighting. Once the lamp is extinguished, you can’t really see where the light is coming from. The second difficulty - in colour it wouldn’t be so difficult - is that in black and white there is a certain minimum contrast that has to be main­ tained, otherwise the scene goes muddy or flat and looks very unattractive. I had to work very hard to maintain that minimum contrast which, in this case, is all in the upper range of the tonal scale. Lassally suggests treating actors’ faces like a land­ scape:

The most important thing is never to approach an actor with a wide-angle lens. You see it done all the time these days. The result is that the whole face is distorted. On the other hand, some faces can do with a degree of flattening; for others, it’s fatal. Irene Papas had a very difficult eye prob­ C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998

lem: she had considerable bags under the eyes most of the time. Make-up can help but it can never be entirely eliminated and you have to rely on special lighting techniques to get rid of those which Irene needed in virtually every shot. There’s usually a special light in use just to elimi­ nate the bags under the eyes. A Taste of Honey was the first British, full-length fea­ ture film produced entirely on location, though not the first time Lassally had collaborated with Tony Richardson:

My relationship with Tony goes back to [the 1954 short] M o m m a D o n ’t A llo w . A T aste o f H o n e y is usually thrown into the “kitchen sink” school of realism, but it isn’t really. It’s realism, but it’s poetic realism. I think it’s the most poetic of all those movies - T he E n te rta in e r [1960], S a t ­ u r d a y N ig h t a n d S u n d a y M o rn in g [Karel Reisz, 1960], L o n e lin e ss o f the L o n g D ista n c e R u n n er. I decided to use the Ilford stocks that I’d tried out on documentaries like E v ery D a y E x cep t C h ris tm a s and We A re the L a m b e th B o y s, and actually use the granularity of the filmstock to blend in with the architecture. The interiors on

"The most important thing is never to approach an actor with a w ideangle lens. You see it done all the time these days. The result is that the whole face is distorted.” were shot on HPS [400 ASA], using a lot of reflected light, principally bounced off the ceiling - at a very low light level [20 foot candles at f2.8], about one-fifth of what one would normally use on a feature. Later, the tone becomes more romantic and I used the finergrained HP3 and the exteriors were filmed on FP3. Interiors were shot in a flat in Chelsea, very sim­ ply, a couple of photofloods bounced off the ceiling. Deceptively simple: the exact placing of the spot on the ceiling from which you reflect the light and the size of the circle of light can be very

A T aste o f H o n e y

important. Just moving it a few inches can have a big effect on the balance of the foreground to the background, the face against the wall behind which needs to be separated. But HPS filmstock had a peculiar characteristic which goes against the general rule, [which is,] generally speaking, the faster the filmstock, the less contrast. But this filmstock had a basic inherent contrast which allowed one to light it very flat and still maintain that basic contrast that is so important in black and white - something you would not get with any other filmstock. Lassally’s preference for simplicity extends to his preferred equipment:

I always work with blimped Arriflexes. Both those films were shot with similar camera equipment; no magazine holds more than 400 feet of film, but it makes for a very compact camera. To this day, I prefer to use prime lenses on the camera for inte­ riors, and on exteriors I leave the zoom on and use it as a variable prime. To have a flexible, con­ venient camera package is very important to me. To illustrate his approach to colour, Lassally selected excerpts from Tom Jones and Heat and Dust:

I went to a great deal of trouble to find a tech­ nique for Tom Jo n es. Basically, colour filmstock exaggerates the contrast; the fact that you’re seeing an illuminated image in the black surround also enhances the apparent contrast, so one has to fight that in order to get back to something that I would consider normal or natural. The film makes the light colours lighter and the dark colours darker, so that you’re getting an extended range of colour in an exaggerated contrast. If you use a net or some other form of pastelization, like a low-con­ trast filter, it’s a way of decreasing the contrast. I looked for a pastelizing agent and finally set­ tled on a particular black silk net which was a piece of a woman’s hat veil of the 1920s, which came down to me through various hands from the famous French cameraman Georges Perinal. We only had a very small piece of net which could not be replaced. The net was the outcome of a search for a single filtration medium that would serve two purposes at the same time. One, to pastelize the colour

65


t e c h n ic a lit ie s

and, two, to diffuse the image. Having found such a net, and later the star filter, every shot in the film is photographed through that particular fil­ ter. The other great advantage of this particular net was that it had almost no exposure factor; you could virtually put it on the camera and ignore it - at the most about one-third of a stop. Part of my technique was the use of the net; part was the use of a particular kind of filter for the

day-for-night sequences. But the most important part was the lighting. I did not use spotlights extensively in the lighting of the day scenes. I used spotlights in the night scenes. In the day scenes, I used floodlights - very simple lights, mostly six mushroom floods mounted in a simple box with some spun glass in the front. Most of the film is lit with those floodlights. The major exterior was the hunt scene, still regarded as a tour-de-force of staging, especially for a period film.

We decided to stage it as an event and we used three cameras to cover it as though newsreel cam­ eras were covering it as an event, so that entire sequence had to be post-synced. It was staged twice from beginning to end. It starts on a hilltop and finishes in a valley. It is a very clever combi­ nation of helicopter shots and a very low-tracking vehicle, which later led to the development of the Mini-Moke. In the final part of the sequence, Sophie West­ ern’s [Susannah York] horse vaults and she’s rescued. One camera was mounted in the back of the truck getting the long shots, and I was crouched in the passenger’s seat with a hand-held camera with a 75mm lens getting the close-ups. Hand-holding a 75mm lens isn’t easy, but this was glossed over by the fact that it suited the action because the close-ups can wave all over the place - it’s the sort of sequence that I would nor­ mally cover hand-held anyway. T o m Jo n e s breaks all the rules of editing; things go left to right, next minute they go right to left, all of which doesn’t matter because a lot of these rules are nonsense. The rules about which side of camera people should look; they are there for a reason, but they are also there to be broken. The

66

important thing for a filmmaker is to learn how to break them, not how to stick to them. The hunt sequence breaks all those rules; there’s no point made that they change direction. The edit­ ing in Tom Jo n e s is as revolutionary as any other part of the film. For Heat and Dust, made 20 years after Tom Jones, Lassally used a different pastelizing agent.

This time it’s a star filter, which is really like a net between glass. That is used on every shot of this and every other colour film I’ve pho­ tographed. H e a t a n d D u st is a challenge to the cinematographer because it is two sto­ ries intercut; a story which takes place in the mid-’20s and a contemporary story. After discussion with James Ivory, it was decided to have a sub­ tle difference between the two, but not some­ thing as simple as using and not using a filter. I was able to persuade James Ivory, with whom I’d built up a comfortable working relationship, that if he left it to me there would be a differentiation but it wouldn’t be too obvious. I did it by making the modern sequence more colourful and the ‘20s sequence more pastel. In the contemporary sequences, there was more camera movement or more rapid camera move­ ment. In the 1922 sequences, I would have more

I said I would much prefer to work 25 ten-hour days as against 22 twelve-hour days, but it’s the actors who stop that. For an actor who has, say, 7 days’ work over 22 days, it is much more expen­ sive if you have him for 7 days’ work over 25 days because he has to keep himself free for another 3 days. One of the other things is the format question. It’s just a chaotic situation where no standard exists and we haven’t had a standard for 40 years, which is pretty7ridiculous. I recently discussed this with the BFI’s director, Will Stevenson, saying that there doesn’t seem to be a forum where these extremely-important questions can be discussed. We still have to get the Americans on board, but there is a chance to go ahead with making 16:9 a new universal frame. You will still have Cinemas­ cope for a really wide screen, but there’s no reason to have all these confusing formats in between. A fter

th e

O s c a r - w in n in g Z o r b a ,

yo u had th e

CHOICE OF AT LEAST TWO BIG PROJECTS, BUT YOU ANNOYED THEIR RESPECTIVE PRODUCERS BY SAYING YOU DIDN’T LIKE THE SCRIPTS. THEN YOU WENT OFF TO WORK ON THE CANADIAN FILM BOARD DOCUMENTARY, La b y r i n t h . T h is

s u g g e s t s s o m e o n e w h o w a n t s to

BE INVOLVED IN A FILM ON MORE LEVELS THAN SIMPLY PHOTOGRAPHING IT.

I’ve always wanted to stay, not exactly in the mar­ gins, but working with filmmakers with individual ideas and on a modest scale. I expect to start with an interesting script and, in the course of making the film, I expect to have an influence on the director or have a creative relationship with the director. That I do expect. I’ve been available for all kinds of projects at all levels. But the big films I’ve avoided. I n THE MOST RECENT OF YOUR FEATURES SEEN HERE,

"The interiors on A Taste of Honey were shot on HPS [400 ASA], using a lot of reflected light, principally bounced off the ceiling - at a very low light level [20 foot candles at f2.8], about one fifth of what one would normally use on a feature.” gentle camera movement; also, if there was a more strident colour in the scene, I would try and get it removed. A scene with lots of colourful saris, for instance, is perfectly okay. It’s a subtle sort of thing of putting the concept at the back of your mind, and then ever}-' time you look through the viewfinder if there’s something that jars against that concept then you try to get rid of it.

B

etween the Film Festival seminar and screen­ ings at the Greek Castellorizian Club, 1asked Lassally to elaborate on some aspects of contempo­ rary filmmaking which particularly concern him:

From the point of view of the cinematographer, the worst thing is the schedules; if you’re lucky enough to find a good script and a sympathetic director and team, you still have to overcome that hurdle. In America, where I’ve made several tele­ vision movies, the maximum schedule you can get is 21 days, which is sheer murder.

Ba l l a d

o f the

S a d Ca f e [ S im o n C a l l o w ],

you

WORKED WITH A NOVICE DIRECTOR. A S SOMEBODY WITH FIRM IDEAS YOURSELF, HOW DID YOU APPROACH THIS PROJECT?

It worked out extremely well. It’s a difficult sub­ ject, not particularly for me, but very difficult overall to make a film of that novel and to do it justice. I had a strange relationship with the direc­ tor, Simon Callow. He’s a very intelligent person and a film scholar, very well-versed in film his­ tory, and so on. We had a lot of discussions before we started which were very fruitful. We looked at films like T he N ig h t o f th e H u n te r [Charles Laughton, 1955], and we talked about John Ford and the atmosphere of the little town that we were trying to create. I thought it was going to be a good relationship, but very soon I discovered that Simon didn’t know a thing about blocking. The picnic scene would have been immensely complicated on stage C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


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because it had parallel action - four things hap­ pening simultaneously. In film, that isn’t a problem, but Simon didn’t realize that. So I ended up doing the blocking as well, in consultation with him - mostly a case of saying, “Shall we do it this way?”, and usually him accepting it. It’s a question of how to stage any particular scene for the camera. It’s a question of coming onto the set and saying, “How are we going to shoot the scene?” Cacoyannis had it in the script but that’s very unusual. Normally, one does it the night before, or just before you shoot it. Tony Richardson would say to the actors, “Show me the scene.” Then he’d discuss it with the operator. Experienced operators in England work that way. But it was something strange which I didn’t expect; it is, of course, a different aspect of filmmaking. It’s one thing being a critic and an erudite person who appreciates good movies, but it’s quite another thing being able to block a scene yourself, even if you’re a good theatrical director, because it’s not the same as moving people around the stage. O ne

o f y o u r p e t h a t e s is n ig h t s c e n e s w h ic h a r e

people presented in an appro­ priate manner for that film. It is always modified by the per­ son behind the camera. But close-ups must be pho­ tographed with an appropriate lens; these days, that rule is broken all the time. I think people trained in television don’t even know about it; they just slap on the widest lens because it enables you to work in confined spaces, and so on. Any film made in Hol­ lywood between, say, 1935 and 1955 would always have beautifully-photographed close-ups, whatever the sub­ ject. There isn’t a single Hollywood film of that period which has sloppily photographed close-ups in it, not one. I’M INTERESTED IN YOUR IDEAS ON EMOTION AND INTEL­ LECT AS APPLIED TO FILM, AS A VIEWER. YOU SEE THEM AS INDEPENDENT YET INTERDEPENDENT?

Film is a very emotional medium and all you can hope to do as a filmmaker is to engage the audi­ In B a lla d o f the S a d C a fe , some people in the ence and keep them occupied, keep them industry said, “What were you trying to do there? attracted, interested in the subject. I think you It doesn’t look right at all.” I realized that what have a better chance of achieving success if you they were really saying is that it isn’t blue, there­ plant the seeds of what you want people to think fore it can’t be right. about so that they germinate when the film is fin­ In day-for-night or magic-hour shooting, I used ished. “Engaging” is the word I would use. I this Wexler’s Moon [invented by Haskell Wexler]. expect the audience to be engaged, and in being It’s just a way of lighting quite a large area in an engaged in the subject they are also being enter­ tained. I always see the intellect and emotions as two pillars of the psyche, in "It is important these days to be there parallel but able to interfere with each on the telecine session when a film is other. OVERLY BLUE. It ’S A CONVENTION YOU BREAK AT YOUR

PERIL AS YOU FOUND OUT IN BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE.

You MAKE IT SOUND DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE A

transferred to tape.”

PARTICULAR EMOTIONAL MOOD - YOU HAVE TO

even way. It would be integrated with other lights which blend in with it, and the scene would be printed the way I always request it. Cool, but not blue. YOU SEEM PARTICULARLY IRRITATED BY THE WAY CLOSEUPS ARE SHOT IN CURRENT FILMS.

Do YOU PREFER TO

EMULATE THE TECHNIQUES USED IN HOLLYWOOD’S HEY­ DAY, OR DID I MISINTERPRET YOU?

There are parameters which are universal, and which to my mind are just a part of good portrai­ ture of photographing faces in a meaningful and interesting way - flattering, if it’s appropriate. Times have changed and people talk a lot about realism, which isn’t really realism - it isn’t even naturalism in many cases. I can understand that nobody these days is aiming for the ultimate in glamour, although I’m sure that if you’re pho­ tographing Madonna she’s just as fussy as others were in the past in conforming to her image as she sees herself. If you know the basic techniques of what makes a face look good, you can apply them in different ways and different styles. But I think the whole art has got lost and nobody seems to care any­ more how the people look beyond a certain point. Even a very realistic movie needs to have

68

FIND A BALANCE.

Some directors, cinematographers and students who rationalize things, or who do things that they think will communicate themselves to an audi­ ence, are actually engaging in a spurious piece of logic. Film isn’t logical, it’s emotional. For instance, if somebody comes into his room from a sunny exterior and, although the curtains are open everything suddenly goes very gloomy, then he takes a drug overdose, the reason it’s gloomy is not because the actor’s going to take an overdose, but because they’ve tried to match the atmos­ phere of the room to the mood of the actor. But with a perfectly normal exterior and a gloomy interior, the audience is likely to think, “What’s the connection?” Only when he commits suicide do you realize in retrospect that it’s meant to introduce you to that mood. It can be done, of course, but it has to be more subtle than that. You have to be aware that a concept in your mind will not necessarily transfer itself 100 percent to the audience. W h a t ’s

y o u r a p p r o a c h t o t e a c h in g

CINEMATOGRAPHY?

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opportunity for practical work. In one particular workshop I did in Munich, which was modelled on the workshops I did in Rockport, Maine, in the USA, they expected me to show them how to do it. I said: “That is not how these workshops operate. The workshop operates by giving you the opportunity to do it and, if you do something very stupid or very time-consuming, I show you a better way.” That particular group resented that. How can you in a week or fortnight workshop teach somebody to be a cinematographer? All you can do is make certain suggestions and point them in the right direction. I always say to students, “The important thing to realize is that with film and television the simi­ larities far outweigh the differences.” It’s now actually doing the industry a lot of harm that people in various areas - critics, directors, others working in the industry - insist on keeping them separate. Only in the USA does it make sense to say, “This is a theatrical feature; this is a movie for television.” Everywhere else in the world they overlap to such an extent that it just doesn’t make sense to separate them. YOU SEEM EAGER TO ADAPT YOUR IDEAS AND KNOWL­ EDGE TO TELEVISION. A t THE SEMINAR, YOU SUGGESTED THAT H 1-8 WAS “THE FUTURE” . WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TELEVISION AT WHAT YOU COULD SAY IS A CROSSOVER PERIOD?

It is important these days to be there on the telecine session when a film is transferred to tape. Actually, the electronic grading systems are much better than film these days. You can make more subtle grading changes, you can affect the high­ lights without affecting the shadows, you can affect one colour without affecting the opposite colour very much. I made quite a few improve­ ments in the grading of B a lla d o f th e S a d C afe when we transferred it to tape. I’ve already made two Hi-8 documentaries. One I made with several other cameramen, called N o rth S ea F o llie s . The other I made myself a couple of years ago when I travelled by cargo boat to Brazil. I called it B o x B o a t to B r a z il. I think Hi-8 is amazing. In the stuff I shot out of the cabin window, you can see the moon and the clouds around the moon and even the reflection of the moon and clouds on the water. © C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


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FOR.


•=&3 11 fe s tiv a ls : in d ia

Ghosh’s oblique approach to narrative development enhances the interestbut it is a very wordy film. Two films have drawn on modern Indian history for their themes. The lessrecent subject matter is the Partition of India in 1947, depicted in Pamela Rooks’ film in Hindi and Punjabi, Train to Pakistan, based on Kushwant Singh’s superb novel of the same title; and Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s Assamese film, Kaal Sandhya (Twilight of Death), which draws for its substance on the more contemporary terrorist move­ ments in northeastern India. Kaal Sandhya might be held to promise more than it actually comes up with. The visuals of the opening title-sequence depict a broad perspec­ tive ofviolent political activism, while the film goes on to make a microcosmic examination of an individual’s search for meaning in his own involve­ ment in terrorism. In fact, this preliminary sequence in itself is very good with its rapid cutting of shots of newspaper stills, guerilla training, gun­ fire and, most significant, of the land itself. But all of this is but a spring­ board to the quest of Ranjit, an educated, unemployed young man, to discover some reason for the death of the man he had been ordered to assas­ sinate. The film ends with Ranjit’s meaningless death against the back­ ground of reference to some of the shots of the preliminary sequence. The film cannot entirely avoid the didactic and the sentimental, but, overall, it is an intelligent and entertaining piece, if not profoundly thought-provoking. It is appropriate that Train to Pak­ istan should be released when India is celebrating its 50th Year of Indepen­ dence from British rule, for along with Independence came the Partition of the country which, particularly in the west, was marked by appalling bigotry and brutality. Kushwant Singh’s novel is one of the finer literary works commemorat­ ing that awful time; Pamela Rooks’ film, however, does it less than justice. The film is well enough acted, given the limitations of the script, which is full of loose ends and several elements that give rise to serious questions of relevance. The emotional impact also is limited as the script confines itself to surface issues, offering no exploration of the causes and the nature ofthe tension that erupt in the all-too-obvious violence. The carnage is graphically portrayed and very well photographed, but the film lacks a

70

sound intellectual basis to give mean­ ingful significance to the impressive visual experience. Train to Pakistan is not in the same class as the celebrated Partition films, Govind Nihalani’s epic Tamas or Garm Hawa by M. S. Sathyu (who, incidentally, plays a creditable role in Rooks’ film). A far more subtle and controlled reference to India’s Independence is offered by the Oriya director, A. K. Bir, in his Shesha Drushti (The Last Vision), one ofthe two orthree best films ofthe Panorama. The minimal narrative serves as no more than a framework on which to examine the selfishness and corrup­ tion rife in contemporary society against the background ofthe lofty idealism of the Freedom Movement or, at least, an old man’s memory of it. In depicting the conflict between idealism and pragma­ tism, Bir focuses on the notion ofthe loss of innocence in two young people: a mentally-retarded girl, who is sexually exploited by a young man, and the son ofthe old freedom fighter, whose inno­ cence is challenged by his father’s compromising of his cherished princi­ ples in the interest of his son’s employment. The prominence of petty parochial affairs helps to establish the essential naturalness of this unpreten­ tious film which reveals a warm sensitivity to village and provincial life. It is the most metaphorical of Bir’s four feature films, and its elegant sim­ plicity is in no way complicated by the charming symbolism that colours so much ofthe work. The dramatic transi­ tion to surrealism in the concluding statement is exceptionally eloquent. Filmed in rural Orissa and pho­ tographed by the director, also an accomplished cinematographer, the film’s visual appeal melds well with its intellectul interest. Another fine work by an accom­ plished cameraman-director is Govind Nihalani’s H azarChaurasikiM aa (Mother of 1084), based on the novel ofthe same name by Mahasweta Devi and set in the context ofthe Naxalite Movement in Calcutta in the early ’70s. It is not, however, a film about revolu­ tionary activism so much as a portrayal of a woman’s self-discovery as she comes to know more and more about her Naxalite son after his death. As she is confronted by reports of his selflessness, his strength and his dedi­ cation along with an enhanced understanding ofthe ideals and values that he and his colleagues were willing to die for, she comes to a better, more critical understanding of her own fam­ ily and the social class with which it

identifies. The film has its blemishes (particularly the prologue sequence

■ea12 sh orts

would have been better done without, as would the coda tacked on to the ending given in the novel), but it is generally a very well-crafted and emo­

Film. Stack them up and it’s quite a slate,

tionally restrained film. Perhaps the most impressive film of this year’s Panorama was young Keralan director Jayaraaj’s Kaliyattam (The Play of God), an ingenious adapta­ tion of Shakespeare’s Othello. Jayaraaj sets his film in the hill country of Kerala in the context ofthe petty politicking in a troupe of Theyyam dancers, amongst whom the central character is distinguished not by his colour but by the scars of smallpox. Remote from the halls of power of 16th Century Venice and its grand affairs of state as the setting is, the universalism of Shakespeare’s tragedy of intrigue, jeal­ ousy and paranoia could hardly be more evident. Indeed, the real strength of Jayaraaj’s work is its dual credibility, as a creative work in its own right and as a version of Othello. Kaliyattam is certainly a visually spectacular film: to introduce the Theyyam dancers, the opening titles are set against the flames and sparks of fire with the black-of-the-night sky as background, and, after the horrific ending, the film closes with the same shots. The folkloric elements add colour and vibrancy; the intensity of the facial close-ups has strong dra­ matic effect; and the landscape is used to great artistic advantage, most espe­ cially in those scenes where its vastness is depicted to emphasize the pointed solitariness ofthe central character. The drama is powerfully sustained by some brilliant acting, par­ ticularly in the roles of Perumalayan and Paniyan, the Othello and lago characters. However, for many nonIndian viewers the appropriateness of songs, as they are offered here, might well be questioned. Following on from the success of his first serious feature in last year’s Panorama, Desaadanam, Kaliyattam certainly establishes Jayaraaj as one of the most promising ofthe younger Indian directors and as a leading light in Keralan cinema. The Indian Panorama continues to be an important showcase ofthe best ofthe country’s art cinema. One might note with increasing concern what seems to be its continuing reduction in content and seek to know why so few films of real quality are being made in a country that boasts so many fine serious filmmakers. ©

with Melbourne-based MusicArtsDance-

but the ABC rarely pre-buys one-off fic­ tion, so it can’t really be considered a source of production funds. SBS has a little more to offer the short film producer, but it’s still slim pickings. Apart from buying completed shorts for “interstitial” (between the sheets) programming, it has a humble production budget available through its late-night shorts programme, Eat Carpet. Eat Carpet has been running contin­ uously since 1989 and, while most of its programming lies in acquisition of completed work, it has managed to maintain a production budget for the “Carpet Burns” segment by way ofthe Australia Council. This is interesting, as the division between the AFC and the Australia Council generally pro­ hibits the latter from funding film. Somehow, though, presumably through the tenacity of Executive Pro­ ducer Joy Toma, Eat Carpet has managed to secure the trickle of pro­ duction funds on the grounds that the work commissioned is art-based either in form or content or both. The Eat Carpet team was also involved in the Loud programme and is underway on another project, “The Forbidden Files”, which will see eight short films, each with a production budget under $25,000, screen theatri­ cally as a feature film omnibus before being broadcast during the normal slot. An indigenous shorts programme is also being commissioned (more experimental than the ABC-AFC Sand to Celluloid programme) and $10,000 has been scraped together for a series on the Mardi Gras entitled Mardi Gras In and Out. (Eat Carpet is probably the only programme on Australian televi­ sion which remains fearless in the face ofthe heavy, family-valued boot of self-censorship of Australian televi­ sion. Sex/Life uses models, not real people, so it doesn’t count.) The promise of cable, now that cable television is in at least a few lounge rooms around the country, pre­ sents some hope for funding from this quarter, although it’s still not big time. Optus’ arts channel, Ovation, is threat­ ening to screen shorts but will probably stop short (oops) of funding production. TropFest sponsor The Comedy Channel is a consistent buyer of completed work, but they gotta be funny, and interstitial shorts program­ ming can be seen on Nickelodeon and C I N E M A P A P E R S • JUNE 1998


one or two others. Most promising though are the initiatives of Arena, which is not only sponsoring some of Australia’s more prominent festivals, but has struck deals with both Victori­ a’s Cinemedia and West Australia’s Screen West. The Cinemedia deal, imaginatively titled “the Arena-Cinemedia Accord”, will see 11 films funded and broadcast in 1998. Each of the films must be realized on a budget of $6,ooo-$8,ooo per minute - not extrav­ agant, but not bad for short fiction. The other project is an initiative of WA pro­ duction company Conspiracy Pictures, and will see some 20 shorts totalling 90 minutes of screen time produced to a budget of around $300,000. The actual contribution of the cable-caster is a little unclear, but the initiatives are

“S3 15 fe s tiv a ls : ta iw a n

quite chaotic to watch, and it’s often dif­ ficult to figure out exactly what and why things are happening. This, Flou says, is an experiment with film language:

I think this film really reflects the life of people today. Everything is jumbled-up in life; you can’t go from one thing to the next. Everything comes at you at once, as it does to Kao [the film’s leading character]. In spite of his aim to refect the speed of the modern world, Flou says that he still felt the pressure of history on him during shooting:

History is still important in a con­ temporary film. Even something that happens yesterday is history. W e can’t separate the past from the present.

a big step in the right direction and would seem to represent some of the more positive opportunities for produc­

Former scriptwriter Wu Nien-jen’s Buddha Bless America follows the New Cinema’s fascination with the past,

ers around at the moment. As for the other cable-casters, Odyssey has formed an incorporated association with the Australian Screen Directors’ Association (ASDA) in order to seek private funding for documen­ taries, although, according to ASDA’s Ian Collie, the money will be more for film marketing and cultural event spon­ sorship than for production funding.

being set in southern Taiwan during the 1960s. The big surprise here is that it turns out to be a gentle comedy. Wu’s last film and directorial debut, A Borrowed Life, was a dense 167-mmute epic set during Japanese colonial rule.

Interestingly, the Premier Movie Partnership, the production company behind Showtime and Encore, has formed a feature film “acquisition ven­ ture” with Britain’s Channel Four, which has recently opened an office in Sydney. Both Channel Four and Pre­ mier were a little evasive regarding the details, but the idea seems to be that a presale will be offered to successful applicants which will secure British theatrical and broadcast rights for Channel Four and Australian cable rights for Premier. In conclusion, it’s true that there is the possibility of funding from some of the new cable channels and the AFC, ABC, SBS and the Australia Council continue to come up with new projects which can be a source of funds for a lucky few, but the money available for production is completely dispropor­ tionate to the number of people actually wanting to make films. Fortu­ nately, that doesn’t seem to deter the 400-500 filmmakers who entered Tropfest this year. Whether it’s from family, friends, private sponsors or Uncle Visa, more and more producers manage to find the money to make short films regardless of the formal avenues of funding. And a good thing it is, too. ® C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1 998

From the start, Wu set out to make a film that was more immediately acces­ sible than many of the New Cinema films. Even foreign viewers without a working knowledge of Taiwanese his­ tory will find the film enjoyable. “I want to break down this huge gap between the artist and his subject matter, between a film and its audience, that New Cinema has become notorious for”, says Wu in the production notes. Buddha Bless America again con­ centrates on the influence of a foreign culture on Taiwan, but this time it’s America. Wu:

Even though America has never occupied Taiwan, its influence over the Taiwanese people is far greater than Japan’s. Its influence extends beyond the cultural and economic to the most important domain of all, politics. Buddha Bless America is set in south­ ern Taiwan in the late ’60s, and shows the effect the arrival of the US military has on a rural village. When the resi­ dents are told that US troops will be performing military exercises on their land, they are wary. Flowever, Brain, an educated villager with a degree of respect for the Americans, convinces them that the US troops will be more careful than their Taiwanese counter­ parts. Unfortunately, he’s wrong, and tanks ride roughshod over the vil­ lagers’ land and crops. The movie unspools with a delicate

humour, and possesses a deftness of touch absent from A Borrowed Life. The friction between the villagers and the American troops is handled gently by means of some comic exchanges: for instance, Granny tries to fend off a group of tanks advancing over her crops with nothing but a stick and some ribald language. But although the tone is generally light, Wu does include some graver images, like one of a young child frozen to the spot with fear as US troops advance around him. Buddha’s quiet pacing reminds one of Flou Flsiao-hsien, whose style exerted a noticeable influence over A Borrowed Life. But the humour, cou­ pled with a straightforward narrative which avoids high points, makes Bud­ dha Bless America much breezier to watch than expected. Chang Tso-chi’s Ah Chung is also different to much of what has come before. Whereas many Taiwanese films exert a quiet dignity, even when their characters are under duress, Ah Chung has a raw, improvisational feel. The film is the début feature film from documentary director Chang, and was made for a low NT$8 million with an amateur cast. As with Tsai Ming-liang’s The River, the film involves a dysfunc­ tional family, and has a similar emphasis on a broken father-son rela­ tionship. There are some brutal emotions hidden in this film, and they surface in the performances of a folk ritual called Ba Chia Chiang, which Ah Chung is forced to learn by his superstitious mother, who thinks it will bring good luck. The dancers wear painted faces and gold helmets and dance a primi­ tive, rhythmic dance which involves lots of blood. The threat of violence continues back in the real world: the club is controlled by feuding Triad gangs, the sister suffers from night­ mares because her stepfather raped her, and Ah Chung has a violent fight with his father. Again, there is a strong undercurrent of despair throughout: “There’s money here, but can you get it?”, laments Ah Chung. Ah Chung was made with the aid of a government grant; indeed, since the ’80s, the government has been sup­ portive of serious Taiwanese cinema, handing out grants and subsidies. Nowadays, however, it’s more difficult to get money, and all seem to agree that serious film production is reach­ ing a watershed point. Filmmakers are currently rethinking their strategy, and the general impression is that they realize that for filmmaking in the coun­

try to survive, they will have to both make more mainstream films and attract more foreign investment. “This year, there has been a change of approach”, says Professor Peggy Chiao, a film critic and head of the Taiwan Film Centre, who helped bring Taiwanese films to the forefront of world cinema during the ’80s by tire­ lessly lobbying critics and festival organizers around the globe. She’s now trumpeting the idea of a main­ stream Taiwanese cinema as a way of ensuring the beleaguered industry’s survival:

Recent films have more entertain­ ment value than before. Taiwanese filmmakers have always been criti­ cized for being too aloof by local audiences, but now they are trying to connect w ith the public. Chiao also says that local filmmakers are planning to increase the produc­ tion values of their films in an attempt to prise viewers away from the US movies which now dominate at the box-office:

A film like Wolves Under the Moon [a gangster story by Ho Ping] would have been unthinkable in the past. It has big production values and it has sophisticated sound and editing. It looks like a Hollywood film - like a very good Hollywood film, in fact. And W ang Shaudi’s Yours and Mine is a wacky comedy, with a touch of Almodovar. It really stands out. Filmmakers are also trying to capitalize on their strong reputation abroad by trying to turn respect into film sales. The feeling is that if well-known directors turn their hand to more com­ mercial projects, their movies may get picked up for foreign distribution. Chiao:

Film festivals are very important for us. They are the most effective w ay for us to make people understand that we make good films. But the next step is to change the interna­ tional reputation of Taiwanese films as just being films for festivals. W e want people to see that they are marketable. W e aim to translate our good reputation into market value, and create a mark for our products. Flou Flsiao-hsien is already reportedly leading the way with a new commercial approach: his next film will see him forgo his normal low-key cast for a superstar pairing of Maggie Cheung and Michelle Reis. Taiwanese cinema may have already gone through a period of evolution during the ’90s, but all the evidence suggests that the most radical changes are yet to come. ©

71


^ 1 8

in tro s p e c tiv e

Scenes of the British troops shooting craven wogs in the back sit uneasily now. A half-hour of patriotic spectacle and low comedy with Forrester Harvey and the O.R.s was missing from this copy. The film was so successful that a sequel by another director was made only to fare dismally. Palais de Danse (1928) followed Elvey’s periods in the USA and Ger­ many, and has a more atmospheric texture and interesting cast: Mabel Poulton, Chili Bouchier, stage player Hilda Moore and, doubling as writer, John Longden, all brilliantined menace, and unrecognizable as Ken G. Hall’s silent Dean Maitland. A working-class girl (Poulton) wins the Cinderella Night at the Palais, but her involvement there draws the dis­ dain ofthe rich boy’s mum (Moore), secretly also an habitué of their noctur­ nal world. Dancing shadows fall over the young couple; circling, linkedhands merrymakers surround them at their moment of desperation; the dou­ ble-exposed orchestra plays on; and fights rage on the rooftop. Better known because of its science fiction elements is the 1929 High Trea­ son, shown in its plausible silent version. This one intriguingly situates itself as a transition between Metropo­ lis (Fritz Lang, 1927) and Things to Come (everyone spotted bit-parting peace delegate Raymond Massey) with a London of 1950 transformed by tele­ vision, phones and air taxis! The appealing Benita Hume takes water­ less showers and rallies women (conscripted under the 1936 act) to disuade airmen who have been mobilized after a war-monger attack on the newly-constructed Chunnel. This one fascinates as much for its naïveté of design and performance. This cross-section of production­ line efforts was over-shadowed by Elvey’s Hindle Wakes (1927), his sec­ ond filming of Stanley Houghton’s 1918 “Ee, by gum” repertory theatre stan­ dard, this time in collaboration with Victor Saville, who also did the betterknown 1932 sound version. (The play also received a ’50s B-movie treatment and a Laurence Olivier television pro­ duction.) This Elvey film is easily the best. The plot has a cotton-mill girl (Estelle Brody) supposed to be enjoying the Hindle Wakes vacation on the company outing to Brighton, but actually off on a naughty weekend with owner’s son (John Stuart, who played the same part

72

in the sound film). Caught out, pres­ sures are brought on the boy to marry her but, in a great ending, she asserts her own will. As in the sound film, the key scene is the one where her mother exposes the deception and comes to dominate, realizing the prospect of an end to years of working poverty. The later film has Sybil Thorndyke confronting Belle Crystal and Edmund Gwenn on the tenament stairs, but Elvey, with the less-prestigious Marie Ault and Humberston Wright playing in an ordinary studio decor, reveals the strengths of the scene far more skillfully. The film is full of telling detail: the peg-legged “knocker up” waking the tenament people for a day’s work; boss Norman McKinnel’s regretful domina­ tion of his old workmate Wright, standing side by side, back to camera, at the key moment; the line of girls changing their mill clogs for street shoes; Blackpool trams and night illu­ minations contrasted to the Llandudnow shore line; Brody, the only one upset for her friend, whose death reveals the incriminating, unstamped postcard (“cruel hard on poor Mary”); and, quite extraordinary, the shot, let run un-edited, ofthe crowd swirling round the floor ofthe Tower Ballroom below, looking like an endless river of searchlit couples. Hindle Wakes struck many people as the best film at Pordenone. It may be Elvey’s finest work and it is a better film than those English silents we know, the Asquiths and Hitchcocks. It was in the sound years that these younger directors would pull away from Elvey. He died ignored and reduced to hand-lettering Soho menus, while even those of us curious about his work had no access to it. Looking at Hindle Wakes, Lloyd George (which its creator never saw) and The Lamp Still Burns, Elvey is revealed, as he was in his conversa­ tion, as the docudramatist forerunner of Ken Loach, but a chronicler whose determination was to record change in his society, not on some simple Marx­ ist model but with an affection for what was past, as well as what was being gained. Too much of his work is undemanding assembly-line entertain­ ment, rarely showing more than professional competence, but, among some 300 films, many of which the British Film Institute was narrowly restrained from destroying to clear shelf space, what may still be found? Pordenone called its season “Britain’s Forgotten Man”. ©

3 0 Head On

I like to think that he feels very

grainy, gritty feel, but I wasn’t inter­ ested in creating grunge.

confident, having seen it. I believe they feel that it has come up to their expectations.

We worked with the idea that there is a strong narrative strain ofthe Perse­ phone myth in the film. Persephone spends half her time in hell and the other half in the real world. When Ari is

7% e

on a high and testing out his limits, rather than going for a bleak look, I wanted a fairly rich and textured look,

Was

t h e r e a l o t o f n ig h t s h o o t i n g in

THE STREETS OF M ELBOURNE?

Kokkinos: Yes, three weeks of night shoots. We shot a number of sequences in the Footscray area - in particular, a very small scene where Ari makes a phone call. We roamed around Footscray because we were already shooting In that area. We wanted to find a phone box and schedule it on the same day. I just chose a phone box which had all this graffiti and looked scungy. But then we discovered that it was the phone box for all the major heroin deals in the area, and we had to shoot around everyone who needed to use the phone. It was depressing when we talked to some ofthe local shopkeepers. People are having a hard time and a lot ofthe shopkeepers are doing It very tough. Shooting in those areas was very instructive for us, because on some level it fed Into the film. C e r t a in l y

th e b le a k n e ss w o u ld h a ve

A RELEVANCE.

Kokkinos: Absolutely. A ndrew ,

t o w h a t e x t e n t d id t h a t

ASPECT OF THE NOVEL, THAT BLEAK VIEW o f A r i’s

ENVIRONMENT, INTEREST YO U?

Bovell: I loved what Christos was saying about being a wog, that he was pre­ pared to talk about the kind of baggage that the next generation is carrying. But at the heart ofthe book there are always these incredibly warm and familial rela­ tionships, relationships between friends, that give Ari and the book heart. I don’t know if I’d use that word “bleak”. I’d say It is “strong” and it is “powerful”. I’d use all those kind of positive words. It Is shocking, but I was responding to the absolutely truthful portrayal of what it is to be in a non-English community within Australia. W hat

a b o u t t h e l o o k o f t h e f il m ?

Kokkinos: What I was going for was a slightly gritty, hand-held but very fluid style. That was Important because I really wanted to try and capture a sense of Ari moving through an urban landscape. He moves through a number of different parts ofthe city within this 24 hours. W it h

t h e n ig h t s h o o t s , d id y o u u s e

TRADITIONAL NIGHT STOCK?

Kokkinos: The film is shot on Super 16 and so the blow-up creates a slightly

so that the places that he escapes to are not bleak but in fact very exciting, vibrant, colourful and textured. I wanted to create, on a very subtle level, a sense that his underworld, or his escape from family and friends, was rich and inviting, whereas his fam­ ily, or the more conventional sort of places that he goes to, are actually less interesting. In those sort of places we went for a cold feel. D id

y o u u s e f il t e r s o r a n y c a m e r a

DISTORTION?

Kokkinos: We did in some scenes. For example, where we wanted to create a particular kind of softness, we used a straw filter or various other filters to heighten the effect in terms of colour, but we didn’t do a lot of in-camera stuff. We came up with a lighting design or idea that was working in dra­ matically with each section ofthe film and each scene. I didn’t feel that the film needed a tricksy element to it, because ultimately it is a very character-driven story. I didn’t really want to do anything that was going to interfere with that too much. Although the look ofthe film is very strong and bold, I was keen to take the audience in as close as possible to the characters, so I shot it very tightly. I was interested in creating quite a claustrophobic feel for the audience. W hen

yo u a r e c o n fr o n t ed on th e

C r o is e t t e

at

q u e s t io n ,

“W h a t

Ca n n es

w it h t h e

is t h i s f il m r e a l l y

AB O U T?”, WHAT WILL YOU SA Y ?

Kokkinos: I have no idea! [Laughs.] What I’m trying to say is that it is a human story first, because, at the end of the day, one can talk about its Greekness in the context of it being an Australian story, but it Is a contempo­ rary perspective of what it means to be Australian. W hat

y o u a r e s a y in g is t h a t y o u

c o u l d f in d

A ri

a n y w h e r e in t h e w o r l d .

Kokkinos: Yes. Ari could be anywhere, but what gives it a particular interest is the fact that It is so singular. For me, it is a universal story and it captures something about what it means to be young, what it means to be living in the ’90s and what it means to be trying to find one’s place in the world. © C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1 998


^3 3 4 J o h n Ruane

keeping the faith, but he must also be prepared to unselfishly pass it to his crew. How a film will look is dictated by how it will be shot. How it is shot is dictated by the first AD, who decides how much time can be allotted for that scene. In pre-production, I worked very closely with [First AD] Monica Pearce. For big scenes, like the ones in the Fitzroy Town Hall, where we knew we needed 200 extras, Monica would go through the scenes and I’d do my little drawings. From these she would work out how many shots I thought were needed and then she’d schedule accordingly. “A movie is a string o f special moments”, says Ruane, and Dead-

L etter O ffice brims with them: Alice writes and posts a letter against a winter sunset; an early morning crane shot introduces Frank’s home in the suburbs; a gorgeous use of ‘magic hour’, that twenty minutes of pastel-twilight that Ungers at either end of the day (and is potentially a scheduler’s nightmare). “If you have managed just a few of these special moments, then per­ haps you have made a good m ovie”, grants Ruane. For Ruane, D ead L etter O ffice has some overwhelmingly emotive scenes, as when Alice releases Punt Road, the pigeon, to an orchestral score by com­ poser Roger Mason; or the scene, beautifully composed by Ryan and Kennedy, when Alice intrudes on Frank tentatively taking forgotten dance steps beneath the towering stacks of dead letters. The power of these scenes are the w ork of a crew and a generous director. I’m always open to people who have material to contribute. If an actor wants to try something, it’s better to try it than to say no, even if you know it’s wrong. Sometimes it does work. It was Chris Kennedy’s idea to have Alice living by the beach rather than in a sharehouse in inner-city Fitzroy. It makes her seem much more isolated and alone. Both Frank and Alice share

Steenbeck. At Swinburne, I failed the sync-test which makes your clappers work. I’ve always been reliant on my editors. Editors have a sense of rhythm, of where things should be cut and when something has outstayed its welcome. Once you’ve been through the non-linear process, you couldn’t go back to a flatbed. [Editor] Denise Haratzis cut as we shot. On Saturday, I would go down to see the scenes cut together. If there was a major blooper, we could con­ sider a pick-up. This way, I could see how the film was coming alive. A cou­ ple of days after wrapping production, we had our first assembly. If you’re me, you are going into a deep decline then; it’s always different to how you imagined. In the end, all you are trying to do is make the story that the writer has written. W hat are the influences on D ead L et­ ter O ffice ? All my films have been about charac­ ters who are losers, but Dead Letter Office is such a different film for me. I don’t really know what the influences are - Mike Leigh’s Secrets And Lies but this one is different. It’s about someone [Frank] from another society who can’t face the past because it’s full of pain; and Alice, who’s reaching into the past to find out who she is today. The byline will be something like, “To find happiness, they both have to find each other. To find each other, they have to find themselves.” Birds have become a motif in Ruane’s films: a peacock in F eathers ; Erroll the Chook in That Eye, The Sky, and Punt Road, the pigeon, in this. W hat’s with the birds? “That’s easy, animals are winners in films”, explains Ruane. W hat does the future hold? I’m not dead and I haven’t gone to the States. None of my films have been so disastrous that I’ve disappeared, and none of them has been so successful that I’ve left. The emphasis in the industry needs to be on young direc­ tors, but I hope that the old farts tike me won’t be totally displaced. I’m doing a draft on someone else’s project at the moment, and I’ve got a

this parallel sense of displacement and isolation. Frank is a very solemn char­ acter, full of hurt and pain, so we shot him against dark backgrounds in som­

few projects on the boil. One is about crayboat fishermen in Tasmania; another is about a hotel in Brisbane

bre tones. His home in Deer Park is sparsely furnished and there’s no back

that gets a facelift that takes it from a corner pub to a topless bar; and

fence, just this trainline and an endless

another is about an Italian family in the

horizon, like Alice’s ocean.

1960s where the patriarchal head of the family is pushing his two sons to win the Stawell Gift. But I’m still look­

D ead L etter O ffice was the first film Ruane cut on the non-linear Avid. The previous features were all cut on a C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UN E 1 9 9 8

ing for that elusive comedy. ®

“Si 3 8

F a m ily Business

characters, but also stylistically to be able to push the envelope and heighten the characters’ fears, their vulnerability, their passion and their idiosyncracies; to really explore the absurdity of the situation. I thinkwe succeeded! You don’t know. Often it doesn’t come back together until you’ve done the sound effects. You can lose it. You laugh on the set and then it dies a horrible death when you cut it together. You just think, “It’s not funny! It’s not funny!” And then the timing will come back with the editing. Ken Sallows is a fantastic comic editor. He has a natural understanding of where to put the cut­ away, what the beats are. That’s something that as a performer I know,

really sensitive, vulnerable, awkward, but good-hearted guy trying to cope with that - he’s being constantly barked at and bitten by the family and he reacts brilliantly. That’s what Cary Grant used to base his comedy on: he’d give most of his dialogue to his opposite players and he’d react to it. Comedy is so much the reaction, and that’s one of Pete’s great skills. Most of the cast have the ability not only to play it straight when required, but they can play the fall guy for the comedy, and that was hard going. Valerie Bader is a fantastic straight actress, but she can also heighten per­ formance and get laughs along with the best of them. They’re a pretty unique cast, because they can do both those things. There are a lot of actors and actresses who can do one or the other, but it’s like getting a comedian to play straight.

but it was great to have someone like him as a craftsman to put that back. I was very happy that he was on board. How DO YOU APPROACH DIRECTING COM­

W hat

EDY?

y o u ’v e a d m i r e d , o r a r t i s t s w h o s e

You direct it as a drama, but you employ people with a very good sense of humour, who have a vaguely comic bent. If you do that, they will naturally be looking for where the absurdity is. A comedian is someone who can see the absurdities of life, whether in their own foibles, fears or frustrations, or in someone else’s arrogance or pompos­ ity, or bombastic nature ... and then they can turn around and do a carica­ ture of that person straightaway, so they’re satirizing the obsessive quali­ ties of human nature. They naturally see those things and can easily repro­ duce them. If you don’t have that particular per­ spective, it’s very difficult directing comedy, because the timing usually comes from that ‘eye’ for it. IS DIRECTING COMEDY AS MUCH ABOUT GETTING THE RIGHT COMBINATION OF PEOPLE IN THE CASTING AS DIRECTING THEM ON THE SE T ?

Absolutely. We spent six months cast­ ing. For example, Pete Rowsthorn, who I’ve worked with before on shows such

a r e s o m e o f t h e c o m ic s t y l e s

w o r k h a s in f l u e n c e d y o u r o w n ?

I’d start with Daffy Duck and Chuck Jones. He’s a fantastic comedia delI’arte persona - Daffy Duck cartoons like Robin Hood and Duck Dodgers. People remember this shit 20 years later because the character is so beau­ tifully drawn. Who else? I suppose Chaplin, absolutely. When I was younger, I loved him. He creates a great character in that he combines comedy and pathos together. He had a real sense of the poetic, but also he knew how to take pathos to the edge and pull it out with a laugh. I don’t think he was too self-indulgent - sometimes he was but on the whole he was a fantastic actor. Keaton less so, because he wasn’t as much of the heart. A lot of Capra’s stuff. I was a television junkie as a kid, watching lots of re-runs, You Can’t Take It With You [1938], films like that. Films of that era were able to balance

as Let the Blood Run Free, is a fantastic fall guy, a great reactionary - he

meaningful content with great laughs, something which I think comedies these days tend to lack. Americans are going for the wacky-zany stuff. Mean­

reacts. I wrote the part of Bruno for

while, what’s happening to content? ®

him. I put him in horrible scenarios, against someone like Jack, who’s the straight guy in a lot of ways. So when I bring them together I’m always think­ ing, “Where’s the contrast? Where’s the absurdity?” Here’s Jack, who’s obsessed about killing bugs and main­ taining the family line, not wanting any hippy-dippy shit coming in to marry his daughter. He’s the guard dog. And then you’ve got Bruno, who’s like the

1 Bonza was voted Most Popular Short

Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival, received two AFI awards for Best Short Film and Best Screenplay, was a hit on the interna­ tional festival circuit and sold throughout the world. 2 Swann is also an actor, comedian and teacher. He co-wrote the comic tele­ vision series Let the Blood Run Free.

73


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Funding Decisions

Second Drill Somewhere in the Darkness

Production Survey

Television Drama

Features in Pre-Production

Halifax F.P.

75

Documentaries My Journey, My Islam Here Comes the Judge My One Legged Dream Lover The Price of the Past The Bull & The Bears

75 75 75 75 75

Featurue Film Strange Planet

75

Demons in My Head Fresh Air Passion Sample People

Television

Features In Production 76 76 76 76 76 76

Babe in Metropolis The Beggars’ Opera Cafe The Craie Dead End Erskineville Kings Fifteen Amore The Game Gargamtuan Head On Hurrah James Spank

78

Ginger Meggs

Features in Post-Production 75 76 76 76

Cat’s Tales Dead Dolphins Dear Claudia The Missing Muggers Paperback Hero

76 76

Short Films 77 77 77 77 77 77 77 77 77 77 78 78

Compulsive

78

Last Laugh

78

production

MORE M A T R I X CREDI TS • THE M I S S I N G STARTS S H OOT I N G • RACHEL GRI FFI THS DI RECTS

murder suspect. Jane is convinced he is guilty even though he maintains his innocence. To make matters worse, the detective handling the case is openly hostile. When another murder occurs while the accused is still in custody, Jane manages to convince the detective that it is in bothe their interests to co-operate and uncover the truth.

ay Rasool retraces her childhood in India and the Faith she was brought up in - with the veil as a potent Islamic symbol. Her subsequent move to Pakistan elaborates on her struggle with the tenets of her religion and changes her relationship with her Mother's Faith. M y Journey, M y Islam looks at the social changes taking place in India with the growth of Hindu Fundamentalism and Kay's sense of betrayal at this. She gives up her Indian nationality and continues her search for identity as a Muslim woman in contemporary Australia.

D ocumentaries

HERE COMES THE JUDGE

(55 MINUTE ACCORD)

MY JOURNEY, MY ISLAM

(52 MINUTE ACCORD)

Look S harp Productions

A lley Kat P roductions D: Celia T ait P-W: A lan Carter

D: Steve B est Ps: M ark Forstmann , A ndrea Lang , Steve B est

Presale: SBS

Presale: ABC

nce a month a 'travelling circus' of magistrates, defence lawyers and prosecutors set out from Broome, on the far north-western coast of Australia. Their journey takes them on a five day trip into the gorges of the Kimberley outback. Their mission is to dispense justice to isolated bush communities.

s governments across the globe reduce their funding for pensions and other social service programs, more people are putting their faith in the Share, Bond and Futures Markets as a way to provide for their family's futures. The Bulls & the Bears centres around the fortunes of a small group of futures traders as they go about their business in the Sydney Futures Market. These people speculate with millions of dollars trying to predict where the matket will go, and hopefully making money along the way.

FFC Funding Decisions Following a Board meeting held in March 1998, the FF C has entered into contract negotiations with the producers of the following projects:

Television Drama HALIFAX F.P.

(3 X I 00 MIN TELEMOVIES) B eyond S impson Le Mesurier Ds: P eter A ndrikidis , others TBA Ps: Roger Le Mesurier, Roger Simpson, Robyn Sinclair Es: M ikael B orglund, K ris N oble Ws: S ue S m ith , K eith T hompson , David B outland Presale: N ine N etwork, Channel 5 UK, UK Living , RTL4, TVNZ Dist: B eyond D istribution

NOWHERE MAN

A

prisoner is brutally murder and Jane Halifax f.p.'s gut feeling is to fight for her client, a boy who committed murder some years ago. Having cleared him she is unable to break the bonds of the analysis, taking her on a journey back to the earlier murder - a nightmare of incest and matricide. When he finally opens up to Jane, she is able to entice him back from the emotional abyss of his mind until outside forces intervene and Jane finds herself in mortal danger.

SO THE DEAD MAY REST

A

bus on the last leg of an outback tour rund off the road, killing several passengers. The survivors undergo therapy with Jane Halifax f.p. in an attempt to deal with the tragedy and resume normal lives. Many have blocked the horror of the accident from their memories and Jane must help them to confront their demons. She discovers that there was a murderer on board, whose awful secret has, until now, been obscured by the accident A murderer who survived must kill again to prevent Jane from uncovering the truth.

FOUEADEUX ane Halifax f.p. is engaged by the Barrister for the Defence to do a psychological profile on a multiple

J

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998

K

(55 MINUTE ACCORD) Z ara Films W-D: Kay Rasool P: Paul Humfress Presale: ABC

K

ey

EP Executive Producer P Producer Co-P Co-Producer AS Associate Producer LP Line Producer D Director SW Scriptwriter C Cast PC Principal Cast SE Story Editor WD Writer-director DIST Distributor

NOTE: Production Survey form s now adhere to a revised format. Cinema Papers regrets it cannot accept information received in a different format. Cinema Papers does not accept responsibility fo r the accuracy o f any information supplied by production com­ panies. This is particularly the case when information changes but the production company makes no attempt to correct what has already been ' “P P M -

O

MY ONE LEGGED DREAM LOVER

(52 MINUTE ACCORD)

ob Ellis, writer and columnist, and Les Murray, poet and critic, have been friends for nearly 40 years. The two were part of the great explosion of talent that hit Sydney University in the late 1950s, and have maintained an enduring friendship ever since. The Price o f the Past is about that friendship, economic rationalism, political correctness, being struck down by the 'black dog of depression', and what the Australia dreamed of in the 1950s has become.

B

THE BULLS & THE BEARS

A

Olsen Levy P roductions P-Ds: Penny Fowler S mith , Christine Olsen W: Kath Duncan Presale: SBS

M

y One Legged Dream Lover is a

black comedy about the body and desire. Kath Duncan was born without an arm and a leg. Now, thanks to the internet, she has discovered the world of "Amputee Devotees", men who are attracted to amputee women. Kath, radio broadcaster, political activist and feminist, is about to take the plunge, going to Chicago for the annual "Fascination" meeting. For the first time in her life, she will enter a world in which she will be looked upon as a sex object. Kath is not a woman to let such an opportunity pass her by.

Following a Board meeting held on 19 March 1998, the FFC has announced their approval of finace for the following feature film: STRANGE PLANET

S ilverFox Media D: Geoff B urton P: J ohn Izzard W: B ob Ellis Presale: ABC

Features In Pre-Productionm DEMONS IN MY HEAD Production company: Empire M otion

Pictures Budget: $500,000

Principal Credits Director: N eil J ohnson Producers: J ane Rowland , N eil J ohnson Line producer: J ane Rowland Executive producer: George B rook Scriptwriter: N eil J ohnson Director of photography: Grant Hoi Production designers: JAMES DOBBIN,

J ason J urd Costume designer: AUREOLE M cA lpine Editor: N eil J ohnson Sound designer: N eil JOHNSON

Planning and Development Casting: J ane Rowland , N eil J ohnson Dialogue coach: NlKKI PRICE Shooting schedule by: N eil J ohnson Budgeted by: N eil JOHNSON

Production Crew Insurer: Royal & Sun A lliance

Camera Crew Camera operator: Grant H oi Focus puller: D uncan Barrett Clapper-loader: D uncan Barrett Camera assistant: D uncan Barrett Camera type: D igital B etacam

On- set Crew 1 st assistant director: V elvet Eldred Script assistant: N ikki Price Continuity: Lisa B reheny Make-up: Star FX - Lisa J acob Make-up assistants: LlSA M cM ahon ,

J acinta M iller Special fx make-up: Star FX - Lisa J acob Hairdresser: Star FX - Lisa J acob

Art Department Propspeople: J ames D obbin , J ason J urd

Wardrobe

Strange P lanet Films D: Em m a -K ate Croghan Ps: A nastasia S ideris, Stavros Kazantzidis Ws: Em m a -K ate Croghan, Stavros Kazantzidis Dist: N ewvision Films , B eyond Films Presale A ustralian Pay TV: PMP

THE PRICE OF THE PAST

(55 MINUTE ACCORD)

Production Survey

S

trange Planet\s an upbeat, warm­

hearted romantic comedy about life on earth. While tracing a year in the lives of six urban creatures. Strange Planet explores the notion that it is betterto have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Wardrobe supervisor: AUREOLE M cA lpine

Post- production Post-production supervisor: N eil J ohnson

Cast M atthew M ariconte (T ravis B rown ), Greg B ow man -M iles (R egis), A mber A llum (Larissa ), J ane Rowland (M ar ­ cia ), J ames D obbin (B ill ), David V allon (W isest M an in the U niverse)

A

meteorite crashes into the back garden of Travis Brown. Upon opening it, he discovers a headset that allows the wearer to bring strange objects across from another dimension.

75


production ProductionSurvey continued FRESH AIR Production company: RB Films Production office: SYDNEY Production: M ay/ J une 1998

Principal Credits Director: N eil M ansfield Producer: Rosemary B light Associate producer: Kylie DU FRESNE Scriptwriter: N eil M ansfield Production designer: Gavin B arbey Editor: Dany Cooper Underwriter: FACB

Post- production Length 92 MINS Gauge: Super 16mm

Marketing and Finance Network presale: SBS, CHANNEL 4 (UK),

S howtime Distribution guarantor: B eyond Films Finance: A ustralian Film Commission , SB SI, S howtime

Associate producer: Loretta FITZGERALD Scriptwriter: Ralph Lawrence M arsden Directors of photgraphy: Daviod Fraser, M ark Freeman Editors: Glen Short, S erena Harris Sound recordists: B arry Donald, Doug S haw

Cast

Principal Credits

Pamela , Roger and Samuel the cats (as themselves ), S hirley S churmann (M rs Cope), J oyce Draper (M avis ), W alter Ryan (M r Reeve), M arie Orr (M rs Reeve), A dam M ay (M artin ), A ri Syngeniotis (S teve), M aria M astoropoulos (M elina ), T oula Y ianni (M elina' s mother), Con B abaniotis ( cafe m an ­ ager).

Director: M anuel A lberti Producers: Lynda House, J im Stark Line producenYvONNE Collins Scriptwriter: M anuel A lberti Director of photography: Geoffrey Hall Production designer: Christopher Kennedy Costume designer: KERRI MAZZOCCO Editor: Ken SALLOWS

yydve nture stories about cats.

even typically funny/sad days in the lives of three aspiring artists - a filmmaker, a painter and a musician who are almost 30 and live, work and rock under the flightpath in the multicultural inner-western suburbs of Sydney.

Production company: VERTIGO PICTURES Production office: ADELAIDE Production: 30 M arch - 24 A pril

Principal Credits

Production Crew

Producer: Rolf de H eer Director: Rolf de H eer Writer: Rolf de H eer Production manager: JULIE RYAN Camera operator: M arc S picer Production designer: lAN JOBSON Art director: Phil M ac Pherson Editor: T ania N ehme Music: Graham T ardif

Production co-ordinator: S erena Gattuso Production secretary: Louise Stirling Location managers: Stephen B rett

DEAD DOLPHINS

PASSION Production company: MATT CARROLL FILMS Distribution company: BEYOND Films

Principal Credits Director: Peter D uncan Producer: M att Carroll Scriptwriters: Peter Goldsworthy,

Rob George Based on the stageplay: P ercy and Rose By: Rob George

Cast Peter M onaghan, J amie N icolai « L if e is like a beanstalk...isn't it?"

Development: FFC

Marketing International sales agent: B eyond Films International distributor: Hollywood Partners, B eyond Films , REP

Cast Richard Roxburgh (P ercy Grainger ) B arbara Hersey

P

DEAR CLAUDIA Production company: J. M cElroy H oldings Budget: S3.53 million Production: M arch 1998 Locations: BRAMPTON ISLAND, Ravenswood, Gold Coast, Queensland

Principal credits

assion is the story of acclaimed

pianist, composer and eccentric, Percy Grainger, and the intense relationship with his mother Rose, which dominated his life. The film charts Percy's rise from child prodigy to the toast of Edwardian London, revered and celebrated throughout the world.

Director: CUDLIPP Producers: Des POWER, JlM M cElroy Scriptwriter: Chrid Cudlipp

Cast B ryan B rown, A leksandra V ujcic

A

SAMPLE PEOPLE Production company: LIVING MOTION

Pictures Budget: $2 m Pre-P roduction: A ug 1998 Production: S ept/O ct 1998 1998

Principal Credits Director: Clinton S mith Producers: Emile S herman , B arton S mith Executive producer: J onathan Shteinman Scriptwriters: Clinton S mith , Peter B uckmaster

Script editor: JACK FELDSTEIN Director of photography: Kim Batterham Production designer: STEVEN JONES-EvANS Editor: Dany Cooper Finance: PRIVATE

romantic comedy about a couple marooned on an island.

THE MATRIX Production company: M atrix Films Pty Ltd Distribution company: W arner B ros. Production: 14/3/98 - 24/7/98 Location: Sydney

Principal Credits Directors: Larry and A ndy W achowski Producers: J oel S ilver, A ndrew M ason Executive producer: B arrie Osborne Scriptwriters: A ndy and Larry W achowski Director of photography: B ill Pope Production designer: Owen PATERSON Costume designer: Kym Barrett Editor: ZACH Staenberg

Production Crew Unit production manager: Carol Hughes

A

On- set Crew

drama thriller set in Sydney's innercity youth culture.

1st assistant director: Colin Fletcher Make-up supervisor: NlKKI GOOLEY Unit publicist: Fiona S earson, DDA

Featured in Productiva CAT'S TALES Production company: SCREENCRAFTS Productions

Principal credits Director: Ralph Lawrence M arsden Producer: Ralph Lawrence M arsden

76

Cast Keanu Reeves (T homas " N eo" A nderson), Laurence Fishburne (M orpheus), Carrie-A nne M oss, Hugo W eaving, J oe Pantoliano

T

Planning and Development Script editor: Duncan T hompson Casting: A lison Barrett, D ina M ann (A ustralia), B eatrice Kruger, F.B.I. Casting (Italy) Extras casting: I nese VOGLER Cultural attache: K en Saunders Storyboard artist: Hugh M archant

he M atrix tells of a computer hacker in the 22nd century who

(M elbourne), M ason Curtis (C ountry) Locations assistant (Broken Hill):

Phil Henderson-W ilson Unit manager: Rick K ornaat Unit assistant: B ritt Kornaat Production runner: B en Lowe Production accountant: MANDY CARTER Insurer: AON Risk S ervices Completion guarantor: Film Finances Inc. Legal services: Roth W arren, B ryce M enzies Travel co-ordinator: T raveltoo Vehicles: Stage & S creen

Camera Crew Focus puller: T erry Howells Clapper-loader: J ude Lovatt Key grip: Rob Hansford Grip: Glenn A rrowsmith Gaffer: Colin W illiams

On- set Crew 1st assistant director: M onica Pearce 2nd assistant director: MlM READY 3rd assistant director: L isa Ferri Continuity: ANNIE WEST Boom operator:MAL Hughes Make-up: A manda Rowbottom Hairdresser: Z eljka Stanin Stunts co-ordinator: ZEV ELEFTHERIOU David Ngoombujarra's right hand: J ohn M oore Personal trainer (for Fabrizio): A nthony Di Cecco Chaperone (for Duane Moore): Peter Docker Production house (Rome):

Panorama Productions Safety officer: T om COLTRAINE Unit nurse: T ed Green Still photography: A nna B ertalli, M ari

V endrame A gency Unit publicist: Fran LANIGAN Catering: "Two Can Do", Sam B athurst

(M elbourne), Steve M arcus (B roken H ill) Assistant caterer: T im Orman Travel (flights): T raveltoo

Art Department Art director: ALISON Pye Art department co-ordinator: Lucy S parke Art department runner: A dam M cGoldrick Set dresser: COLIN ROBERTSON Props buyer: M arita M ussett Standby props: D ean Sullivan Vehicle co-ordinator: LAURENCE HUMPHRIES

"T ruck"

Wardrobe Costume assistant: Denise ( nee) Petrovic

Art Department

Assistant editor: Caroline S cott Editing rooms: T he J oinery Sound post production: SOUNDFIRM Sound editor: Glenn NEWNHAM Laboratory: ClNEVEX Telecine/rushes transfer: AAV DIGITAL

Art director: A dam H ead Art department co-ordinator: Katie N ott Art department runner: D ean McGwYER Art department assistant: Christine Feld Draftsman: A ndrew Hays Props buyers: PAUL HURRELL & MICHELLE S0THEREN Standby props: HARRY ZETTLE Action vehicle co-ordinator:

Pictures Camera equipment: SAMMYS Shooting stock: KODAK

Government Agency Investment

Mark "Harry" Ward Wardrobe Wardrobe supervisor: Graham Purcell Standby wardrobe: Helen Maggs Construction Department

Development: A ustralian Film Finance Corporation (FFC)

Other Finance International financing: HOLLYWOOD Partners

Production company: U pside D own

Shooting stock: FuJlCOLOR Film gauge: 16mm

Post- production

Post- production

THE MISSING Films Pty Ltd Distribution company: Roadshow Film D istributors Production: 21/4/98 - 17/6/98 Locations: M elbourne, Parachilna SA, B roken Hill NSW, and Rome, Italy

S

Government Agency Investment

joins a band of freedom fighters struggling against evil computers that control the Earth. The machines keep their human slaves passive by literally plugging them into The M a trix - a virtual reality universe that appears as the 20th century world we know.

Unit nurse: CONNIE W ebber-R udd Catering: Eleets Catering

Costume standby: Kelly Foreman

Construction manager: A ndrew Gardiner Set finisher: B ob DALEY

Marketing International sales agent: GOLDWYN Films I nternational

Post- production

Cast

Mixed at: SPECTRUM FILMS Laboratory: A tlab

Fabrizio B entivoglio (T ommaso ), J ohn M oore (S utherland), David N goombujarra (W illie ), David Franklin (Father O'B rien ), Rebecca Frith (S usan ) haunting thriller which tells the story of Tommaso, a high-ranking Vatican priest, who is forced by circumstances to question his faith and values.

A

Government Agency Investment Production: FFC & Pacific Film and T elevision Commission (PFTC)

Marketing International distributor: B eyond Films Ltd Cast Claudia Karvan (R uby), H ugh J ackman (J ack ), J eanie Drynan (S uzie ), B ruce V enables (A rtie), Ritchie S inger (Ralph ), Charlie Little (Errol), A ngie M illiken, A ndrew S.G ilbert

MUGGERS Production company: REDMAN

Entertainments Distribution: W inchester Films ,

J

PolyGram Budget: $4 m Production: M arch 1998

Principal credits Director: DEAN MURPHY Producers: N igel Odell, David Redman Executive producers: JOHN WOLSTENHOLME,

ack, an outback road-train truckie moonlights as a romance novellist. When the book becomes a best-seller, he must do some fast-talking to convince his long-time friend. Ruby, to pretend to be the writer.

SECOND DRILL

Gary S mith , Chris Craib Scriptwriter: ROBERT TAYLOR

Production company: V erdict P ictures Pty Ltd Production: A pril 1998

Cast M att Day, J ason B arry

Principal Credits

T wo medical students become involved in an illicit organ transplant scam.

Director: CHARLES " B ud" TlNGWELL Producer: Cameron J ames M iller Co-producer: Peta CRAWFORD Executive producers: OSCAR ScHERL, J ames Podaridis Scriptwriter: ANTHONY LANGONA

PAPERBACK HERO Production company: PAPERBACK Films Pty Ltd Distribution company: B eyond Films & Polygram Filmed Entertainment

Production Crew Production manager: Ron Buch

T

Pre-production: 5/1/98... Production: 20/2/98... Post-production: 6/4/98...

he disturbing and violent portrayal of Sunny Clinsman, 55 and terminally ill with weeks left to live, who pays two estranged army recruits to kidnap his only son's gay lover, in an attempt to lure his son Evan into a catand-mouse game fuelled by a hidden agenda of suicide and self-retribution. It is the cruel story of a military man so guilt-ridden that he forces his only son into killing him. A suicide drama that demonstrates the raw facts of a life spent living by a code. A lesson in expectancy. A drill we will all have to encounter.

Principal Credits Director: A ntony B owman Producers: Lance Reynolds &

J ohn W inter Co-producer: Dani Rogers Scriptwriter: A ntony B owman Director of photography: David B urr Production designer: J on Dowding Costume designer: LOUISE WAKEFIELD Editor: V eronika J enet Sound designer: A udio Loc Sound recordist: Greg B urgmann

Planning and Development Casting: Faith M artin & A ssociates Extras casting: Lydiard & Rossi Budgeted by: JOHN WINTER

SOMEWHERE IN THE DARKNESS

Production Crew

Budget: $800,000

Production manager: ROSSLYN ABERNETHY Production co-ordinator: STOTTIE Production secretary: LOUISA Kors Location manager: Chris Strewe Unit manager: Dave SUTTOR Production runner: A njii B ryers Production accountant: N adeen KlNGSHOTT Completion guarantor: FACB Legal services: T ress Cocks & M addox Travel co-ordinator: SHOWTRAVEL

Principal Credits Director: PAUL FENECH Producers: David W ebster, B rendan Fletcher, Paul Fenech Scriptwriters: B rendan Fletcher, Paul Fenech Directors of photography: Mike Kliem,

On- set Crew

Grant J ordan Production designer: Madelaine Hetherton Editor: AREITO Miles On- set Crew 1st assistant director: Brendan Fletcher Post- production

1st assistant director:

Film gauge: SUPER 16

Charles Rotherham 3rd assistant director: M arc ASHTON Continuity: JENNY Quigley Boom operator: GARY DlXON Make-up: M argaret Stevenson Make-up assistant: M aree M cD onald Stunts co-ordinator: DANNY BALDWIN

B arry J enkins, Rowan W hitt, A usten T ayshus, Robyn Loau, Leah Purcell, Ernie Dingo

Camera Crew Focus puller: JOHN WAREHAM Key grip: Lester B ishop Gaffer: Graham Rutherford

Cast

!* |h e story of a young boy and an old I man trapped beneath rubble in a

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UN E 1 998


V production Production Survey continued collapsed building. The old man distracts the boy from the hopeless situation by taking him on a journey of the mind.

Features In Post-Production BABE IN METROPOLIS

Grips: M att Bates & M att B lackwood Gaffer: Chris Loveday 1st assistant director: CAROLINE WATERS 2nd assistant director: J osh A dam 2nd unit DOP: Darrell M artin Continuity: M erran ELLIOT Boom operator: Rob DAWSON Hair & make-up: KATHERINE FURNESS Catering: H eather' s Healthy M unchies &

Health Food T hyme Runner: A lan J ohnson

Planning and Development Storyboard artist: Peter P ound

Production crew Visual effects: T he N eal

S canlan Studio

Art Department Art director: COLIN GlBSON

Animals Animal trainers: Karl Lewis M iller,

Art director: Paul B eagley Art department assistant: J odie

M c N air

Cast Holly Fisher (B ecky), Caitlin M cDougall (L ouise), Rebecca M acaulay (J ustine ), P ip M ushin (T om ), T orquil N eilson (M arshall), Robert T aylor (S imon ), Collette M ann (M ary), Red Symons (R ichard), J ohn Flaus (S tickm an ), George Kapiniaris (R estaurateur)

A fter a 30th birthday party, Louise, Becky and Justine open an underground cafe in their backyard garage which becomes the most popular place in town. Even the policeman and the nosy next door neighbour become regulars. The money starts flowing in, finally freeing them to follow their dreams. But when push comes to shove, will they keep sight of their original goals?

Steve M artin

Cast

THE CRAIC

J ames Cromwell (Farmer Hoggett), M agda Szubanski (M rs Hoggett), M ickey Rooney

Production company: FOSTER-GRACIE Distribution company: V illage Roadshow Ltd Budget: S1.2m Production: 27 JANUARY - M arch 1998 Locations: MELBOURNE, WENTWORTH, B roken Hill, Syoney, Gold Coast

H aving triumphed at the National Sheepdog Trial, Babe returns home a hero, but in his enthusiasm to be at the side of his beloved "boss", the little pig accidentally causes a mishap which leaves Farmer Hoggett in traction confined to bed. With the bank threatening foreclosure, Mrs Hoggett's only hope for saving the farm is to accept an offer for Babe to demonstrate his sheep-herding abilities at an overseas State Fair in exchange for a generous fee. Thus, Babe and Mrs Hoggett set off on a journey that takes them to a far away storybook metropolis, where Babe encounters an incredible assortment of animal friends, experiences the joy and sorrow of life and learns how a kind and steady heart can mend a sorry world

Principal Credits Director: T ed Emery Producers: M arc Gracie, David Foster Line producer: Steve Luby Executive producers: B runo Charslesworth, A lan Finney Scriptwriter: JiMEOIN Director of photography: J ohn W heeler Production designer: Penny SOUTHGATE Costume designer: MICHAEL CHISOLM Editor: MICHAEL COLLINS

Production Crew Production manager: JODIE CRAWFORD Fish

Cast J imeoin (Fergus), A lan M cKee (W esley), Robert M organ (C olin ), Colin Hay (B arry), J ane Hall (A lice), Catherine A rena (Erica ), N icholas B ell, Greg Evans , Kate Gorman , Geoff Paine , A nita Cerdic, A nne Phelan

THE BEGGARS' OPERA CAFE Budget: $45,000 Production: 8/9-11/10/97

Principal Credits Director: VlCKY FlSHER Producers: V icky Fisher, Holly Fisher Scriptwriter: VlCKY FlSHER Director of photography: Katina BOWELL Creative consultant: Ellery Ryan Production designer: K ent I nkster Editor: ClNDY CLARKSON Sound recordist: N ed Dawson

Film gauge: 35 mm Length: 100 MINS Finance: PRIVATE

Cast W illiam S now , V ictoria H ill, Peter Hardy, M ichael Edward Stevens

A

contemporary Hitchcockian thriller.

Art Department

Principal Credits

M itchell, B ill M iller Line producer: B arbara Gibbs Scriptwriters: George M iller, J udy M orris, M ark Lamprell Director of photography: A ndrew Lesnie Production designer: Roger Ford Costume designer: NORMA MORICEAU Editors: J ay Friedkin , M argaret S ixel Composer: N igel W estlake

Post- production

On- set Crew

Production company: KENNEDY MILLER Distribution company: UNIVERSAL PICTURES Production: S eptember 1997 ... Director: George M iller Producers: George M iller, Doug

Scriptwriter: I ren K oster Director of photography: LASZLO Baranyai Production designer: Graham B lackmore Editor: VRETT SOUTHWICK Composer: A lan Zavod Script editor: TRACEY SILVERS Production manager: M urray S estak Art director: J ulian Faull

ERSKINEVILLE KINGS Production company: UNDERGROUND Films Production office: Sydney Budget: $750,000 Production: 28 JANUARY - 24 FEBRUARY

Principal Credits Director: A lan W hite Producers: ANNETTE S imons , JULIO CARO Scriptwriters: A lan W hite, A nik Chooney Director of photography: JOHN Swaffield Production designer: A ndrew Horne Editor: J ane M oran

Cast M arty D enniss, Hugh J ackman , Leah V andenberg, J oel Edgerton, A aron B labey, A ndrew W hooley

T

wo brothers reconcile following the death of their father.

FIFTEEN AMORE Production company: M txm M ovies Production office: SYDNEY, MORPETH Budget: $450,000 Production: 2 - 2 1 FEBRUARY, 1998

Principal Credits Director: M aurice M urphy Producer: BROOKE WILSON Executive producer: MAURICE M urphy Scriptwriter: MAURICE M urphy Director of photography: JOHN B rock Production designer: Em m a Hamilton Lawes Editor: Dana Hughes Composer: Carlo Giacco Production manager: BROOKE W ilson Art director: J ulia HlSHION

Post- production Film gauge: 35 mm Length: 90 MINS Finance: Private

Cast Lisa H ensley, Steve B astoni, T ara J aksewicz, Dominic Galati, Gertraud I ngeborg ased on the true story of a romance between an Australian mother of three and an Italian POW set in the final years of WWII.

B

THE GAME Production company: ÛYQ0 Film Productions Budget: $1 m

T

wo Irish lads find themselves caught up in a bungled IRA mission. Fearing for their lives, they flee to Australia, and end up being chased across the country by the Immigration Department, the SAS, and an Irish "super grass".

Production Crew Production manager: A ngie B lack Production co-ordinators: Eleni A rbus

& D onna Cameron Production assistants: Reuben B rett, B rad Levins

psychological thriller about a bullied young man who gets his own back at a fancy-dress party. (No other details supplied)

A

DEAD END Production company: B & B FILM Producers Production office: MELBOURNE Production: 27 J anuary - 6 M arch 1998

Principal Credits Director: I ren K oster Producers: SALIK SlLVERSTEIN,

Camera Crew

David T eitelbaum

Focus puller: Grant Sweetnam Clapper-loader: M artin S mith

Line producer: M urray S estak Executive producer: B ill Lewski

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UN E 1998

Cast: B ruce Sam azan , M elissa T kautz

GARGANTUAN M ovie

W eek for T wentieth Century Fox

of the

Budget: M ore than US$7 million Pre-production: 2/11/97... Production: Finished M arch 1998 Locations: M t T amborine , M arrs M arina , J acobs W ell, W arner B ros. Roadshow studios, Queensland

Principal Credits

Director: B radford M ay Producer: Peter W are Scriptwriter: Ron PARKER Director of photography: JOHN STOKES Visual effects: J ohn Cox

Cast A dam Baldw in , Emile H irsch; mainly A merican , with A ustralian extras

A

widowed marine biologist and her son arrive on a remote tropical island to study seismic activity and its effect on marine life, and in the process, meet a famous Australian geologist. Because of the seismic activity, things that live in the water decide to come out

HEAD ON Production company:Head On Productions, Pty Ltd Production office: MELBOURNE Production: 20/8 - 10/10/97 Location: MELBOURNE

Principal credits Director: A na Kokkinos Producer: J ane S cott Scriptwriters: ANDREW B ovell, A na Kokkinos, M ira Robertson Director of photography: J aems Grant Production designer: N ikki Dl Falco Costume designer: A nna B orghesi Editor: J ill B ilcock Sound designer: Lloyd Carrick

Punning

and

Development

Casting director: DlNA M ann Extras casting: Cameron Harris

Production crew Production manager: CATHERINE B ishop Production co-ordinator: K im T ravis Producer's assistant: Christina N orman Production secretary: J ana B u ir Location managers: A listair Reilly, T im S cott Unit manager: A ndy Pappas Unit assistant: N ino N egrin Production runner: K im Reed Production accountant: G ina Ha l u s Insurer: H.W. W ood Travel: TRAVEL Too

Camera crew Focus puller: Petter Stott Gaffer: J im Hunt Best boy: Robbie H echenberger Electricians: David Lovell, Chris Dewhurst

On- set crew 1st assistant director: Phil J ones 2nd assistant director: Christina Robinson 3rd assistant director: Iain P irret Script supervisor: A nnie W ent Boom swinger: M al Hughes Make-up/hair supervisor: Christine M iller Choreographer: ZoiS T zitas Greek music co-ordinator: Irine V ela Still photography: J ohn Sarvis Unit publicist: Fran Lanigan

Catering: Eat Your Heart Out Film Catering Catering assistant: ROSE B ygrave

Art Department Art director: PAUL HEATH Art department co-ordinator: Colette B irrell Art department runner: A dam M cGoldrick Buyers/dressers: Lisa THOMPSON, M urray Kelly Standby props: SlMON CARTER

Wardrobe Wardrobe supervisor: K eryn Ribbands Standby wardrobe: K elly FOREMAN Wardrobe assistant: S hane Phillips

Post- production 1st assistant editor: Rochelle Osh uck Dubbing editor: Craig Carter Sound editor: Room with a V u, Craig Carter Mixed at: SOUNDFIRM Laboratory: ClNEVEX Camera equipment: LEMAC Shooting stock: Kodak

Government Agency Investment Finance: Film Finance Corporation (FFC), Film V ictoria Distribution: PAUCE (A us traus ia , S outhern Star Film Sales

Cast A lex D imitriades , Paul Capsis , W illiam Zappa , J ulian Garner, M aria

M ercedes, Eugenia F ragos , A lex P apps

N

ineteen years old. When all Ari's energy and defiance, pain and joy is jammed into one high-velocity night of dancing, sex and drugs, he's running head on into his own kind of freedom.

HURRAH Production company:

Hurrah Productions Pty Ltd Production office: MELBOURNE Budget: $3.6 m Production: 23/8 - 3/10/97 Location: W entworth, NSW

Principal credits Director: FRANK SHIELDS Producer: JULIE M arlow Co-producer: JOHN WOLSTENHOLME Executive producers: David Roe,

Les Lithgow Line producer: Daniel S charf Scriptwriter: J ohn W olstenholme Director of photography: NlNO M artinetti, ACS Production designer: Paul Holt Costume designer: A nna S enior Editor: B ill MURPHY Composer: PETER BEST Sound designer: David L ee

Punning

and

Development

Storyboard artist: Ralph M oser

Production Crew Production manager: Elisa A rgenzio Production co-ordinator: A nna MOLYNEAUX Production secretary: Eleanor Philpotts Location manager: M al B ryning Location assistant: Cath Lee Unit manager: Leigh AMMITZBOL Unit assistant: Phillip T aylor Production accountant: TREVOR B u in e y Insurer: HOLUND INSURANCE Completion guarantor: F.A.C.B. Legal services: Foster Hart Travel: Stage & SCREEN T ravel

Camera Crew Focus puller: T rish K eating Clapper-loader: Tov B elling Camera equipment: CAMERAQUIP Key grip: N oel M udie Grip: Oliver P etrovic Gaffer: Les Frazier Best boy: A dam K ercheval Lighting equipment: Frazier Lighting Generator operator: A ndrew J espen

On- set Crew 1st assistant director: B ob H oward 2nd assistant director: Steve Hardman Continuity: JULIE B ates-B rennan Boom operator: Gerry N uci-F ora Make-up/hair design: A ndrea Cadzow Make-up/hair: J ennifer Lamphee Special fx co-ordinator: Peter Stubbs Stunts co-ordinator: W ally Dalton Safety supervisor: P eter Culpan Safety report: P eter Culpan Security: T ed M urray Still photography: Lisa T omasetti Unit publicist: Fran Lanigan Catering: K eith Fish , Yvett S ini Runners: J oclyn M c Cahon , M atthew Saville, Sandi A ustin

Art Department Art director: Philip BOSTON Art department co-ordinator: M arian Long Art department: Daniel Owen Art department assistant: G erard K eily Set dressers: M arita M ussett, Colin Robertson Standby props: B en Bauer Armourer: JOHN Fox

Wardrobe Wardrobe buyer: Catherine H erneen Standby wardrobe: Karen Falting

Construction Department Scenic artist: COLIN BuRCHALL Construction manager: D ave Franks Key carpenter: MlCK GOLITSCHENKO Carpenters: ANTHONY Lam ont , M athew

B olger. Gilbert Hanson

Post- production Post-production manager:

M al B ryning Assistant editor: B arry Lanfranchi Laboratory: ClNEVEX Shooting stock: KODAK Double head projector: T he JOINERY Length: 95min Gauge: 35 mm

77


production Production Survey continued Government A gency I nvestment Finance: Film Finance Corporation (FFC) Other I nvestment Production: PREMIUM MOVIE Partnership (PMP) Distribution: T otal Film and T elevision, M ayfair Entertainment Cast : M arton Csokas (Raoul), T ushka B ergen (J ulia ) hrough the shimmering red-ochre distance, in the white-hot light of passion, two lovers create their own reality. Hurrah is a mysterious, intense love story.

T

JAMES Production company:

P rincipal Credits Director: LYNDA H eys Producers: M ariel B eros, S haron

Kruger, Ross M atthew Scriptwriter: Stuart B eattie Director of photography: M artin M cGrath Production designer: LuiGl PlTTORlNO Costume designer: A nnie M arshall Editor: J ohn SCOTT Composer. N erida T yson Chew Sound designer: GUNTIS SlCS

P lanning and D evelopment Casting: Faith M artin & A ssociates Extras casting: Kate Finsterer Storyboard artist: David Russell Shooting schedule by: A drian Pickersgill P roduction Crew Production manager: Perry Stapleton Production co-ordinator: Ruth W atson Production secretary: VANESSA CRITCHLEY Location manager: A nton Denby Unit manager: RICK Kornaat Production runner: SCOTT LOVELOCK Production accountant: SOPHIE SlOMOS Insurer: H.W. WOOD Completion guarantor: FACB Legal services: ROTH WARREN Travel co-ordinator: Stage & S creen Freight co-ordinator: STAGE & S creen

Camera Crew Focus puller: Katrina Crook Clapper-loader: SlMON WILLIAMS Key grip: B rett M cDowell

On - set Crew 1st assistant director: A drian Pickersgill 2nd assistant director: Guy CAMPBELL 3rd assistant director: Dimitri Ellerington Continuity: LYNN-MAREE Danzey Boom operator: David Pearson Make-up supervisor: J an "ZlGGY"

Z eigenbein Choreographer: Paul MERCURIO Still photography: S kip W atkins Catering: Eat and S hoot T hrough A rt D epartment Art director: CATHERINE M ansill Art department co-ordinator: A lice Luey Art department runner: B en SKINNER Set dresser #1: J uleit J ohn Set dresser #2: Pete B axter Assistant set dresser: Kath B urton Standby props: J ohn K ing Storyboard artist: B en SKINNER W ardrobe Wardrobe supervisor: Robyn Elliott Standby wardrobe: AMANDA CRAZE Wardrobe assistant: Lisa J avelin P ost- production Recording studio: A l a n E a t o n S t u d io s Laboratory: ATLAB Laboratory liaison: I a n R u s s e l l Negative matching: N e g t h in k

78

SPANK Production company: Ultra Films Pty Ltd Distribution company: PALACE CINEMAS Ent . Corporation Pre-production: 24/11/97 - 2/1/98 Production: 5/1-10/2/98 Principal Credits DirectorERNiE Clark Producer: David Lightfoot Co-producer: S cott M cDonald Executive producer: Rolf DE HEER AND Domenico Procacci Scriptwriters: David Farrell & David Lightfoot Director of photography: David Foreman A.C.S. Production designer: A phrodite Kondos Editor: T ed M cQueen-M ason Composer: S ean T imms Sound recordist: Des Keneally Planning and D evelopment Script editor: DUNCAN THOMPSON Casting: A ctors I nk Casting director: A ngela Heesom P roduction Crew Production manager: S cott M cDonald Production co-ordinator: LEONA ClCHON Location manager: N adine S choen Unit manager: J ohn Fairhead Production assistant: Clair Parker Production runner: A nna Steel Financial controller: FACB Production accountant: T rudy T albot Insurer: W ebser Hyde Heath Completion guarantor: FACB Legal services: Roth W arren Freight co-ordinator: AUSTRALIAN

A ir Express Camera Crew Focus puller: Rags Phillpot Clapper-loader: S unny W ilding Steadicam photography:

Harry Panagiotidis Key grip: MARCUS B osisto Gaffer: Graeme S helton Best boy: Dave Smith On - set Crew 1st assistant director: David Lightfoot 2nd assistant director: J ulie B yrne 3rd assistant director: Clair Parker Continuity: T rudy Gardener Boom operator: Rob CUTCHER Make-up: S uzy WARHURST Make-up assistant: JODIE LENAINE-SMITH Unit nurse: MICHELLE M cGowan A rt D epartment Art director: Phil M acpherson Props buyer: P ersia B rokensha Standby props: Roger Lamey W ardrobe Wardrobe supervisor:

Gwendolyn " J ack " Stukely Standby wardrobe: MOLLY O'G rady

Hanrahan Wardrobe assistant: Karin VON BREHREN P ost- production Post-production supervisor:

P

aulie returns from Italy to find his old mates Nick and Vinny planning to set up a cafe in the city's premier cafe strip. Vinny's girlfriend Tina bankrolls their plans, but they can't find a building. Enter local rich kid Rocky Pisoni, temporarily in charge of his Pa's building development company. Rocky takes over the project with disastrous consequences.

SEE LAST ISSUE FOR!

MR PUMPKIN'S BIG NIGHT OUT PRAISE THE THIN RED LINE

Television GINGER MEGGS

(26 X 24 MIN EPISODES, ANIMATED SERIES)

Production company: ICA Productions WA

Production: 16/2/98 - 10/99 Presale: Channel 7 P rincipal Credits Animation director: JORDI AMOROS Producer: TlBOR MESZAROS Co-executive producer: Larry H irsch Scriptwriters: Kevin N emeth, M urray Oliver, Faye Grant-W illiams , Roslyn S ilvestrin, M aggie W ild -W est, K en Kelso, J ohn B eaton, Ron Elliot, Cameron Clark, J oan A mbrose Artists: Henry N eville, Chris Lancaster, B ryce Kershaw , Rosemary Collard, M aggie Geddes, A dam Duncan , Grania Cole, David Callan , Dam ian Clark, W illiam Lang , Ian B eattie, B en S m it , T im Glazebrook P lanning and Development Script editor: JON STEPHENS Story editor: J oan A mbrose Music director: KEVIN PEEK Voice director: T ony Evans P roduction Crew Production manager: ILONA MESZAROS Production co-ordinator: M ia Farinosi Assistants to Larry Hirsch: KELVIN MUNROE, Ryan H odgson Production assistant: TlBOR MESZAROS J nr M arketing International distributors: ClNENIC (S pain , Portugal), Ravensburger (G erman ­ speaking Europe, Eastern Europe), S outhern Star (rest of the world) Cast I gor Sas , M aurie Ogden, M arty Gittins , M aggie W ild -W est, V anessa Raspa , T aryn Onofaro, Katie T hompson he your everyday kid with his bushfire red hair and his baggy shorts? No, he's more than t h a t s

Focus puller: T revor SMITH Clapper-loader: SEAN MOSS Gaffer: J ack M eyerink Best boy: MARTIN EVANS

On - set Crew

S imon S mith Scriptwriter: Kai MOHRHOLZ

(PMP)

I

Camera Crew

P rincipal Credits

M arketing International sales agent: Intra Film , Rome Publicity: David Farrell Poster designer: Robyn W att Cast Robert M ammone (P aulie ), V ince Poletto (Rocky), M ario Gam m a (N ick), Checc M ussolino (V inny ), V ictoria Dixon -W hittle (J o), Lucia M astrontone (T in a ), M arco V enturini (A ng )

rugby hero who leads a secret double life as a ballet dancer.

Production runner: KYLIE BENNET insurer: Holland I nsurance B rokers

Director: Kai MOHRHOLZ Producer: Kai MOHRHOLZ Executive producers: S imon J. Chapman ,

M arketing International sales agent: B eyond Films Cast Russell Page (J ames ), Rebecca Yates (C laire), M artin Henderson (T om ), Paul M ercurio (D avid K night), Radha M itchell (Tam ara ), Peter Gwynne (D r D errick), Phillip Holder (M r Power), George S partels (J ack Grant), Kip Gamblin (R oland), Rainy M ayo (D anika ) ames is the comic story of a young

S imon M oore

Production company: P ink Elephant Productions

Government A gency I nvestment

Other I nvestment Production: Premium M ovie Partnership

1st assistant director: Dam ian M ead Boom operator: Paul Finlay Make-up: M arie Henson Still photography: LEAH BROADFOOT Runners: RACHEL FORSYTH

Director of photography:

S imon J. Chapman Production designer: CARMEN HANNAY Editor: Kai MOHRHOLZ Composer: Cuff B radley Sound designer: Kai M ohrholz Sound recordist: PHILLIP LUKATELA

P lanning

and

Development

Script editors: Phillip Lukatela,

Rob D oran Casting: T he A ctors W orkshop Storyboard artist: Rob O'C onnor

P roduction Crew Production manager : A lex T ucker Producer's assistant: A lex T ucker Unit managers: Christina W einrich, W endy H eirer Camera Crew Camera operator: S imon J. Chapman Camera assistant: S imon S mith Camera type: A rriflex 35 BL Dolly grip: P eter W ellman Gaffer: Chris Gillette Best boy: J arrod Y oung On - set Crew 1st assistant director: BERNADETTE Corder Script supervisorALENKA Henry Boom operator: Kelt TwiDALE Make-up: Danielle P edrina Stunt driver: M ungo M ackay Still photography: Cast and crewRuNNER: Leon M urray A rt D epartment Standby props: CARMEN HANNAY P ost- production Laboratory: A tlab Gold Coast Laboratory liaison: SlMON STONEY, D ean Evans Film gauge: 35 mm Shooting stock: VISION 500T (5279) Cast J ulia M ichaels (M argaret), T ony Curtis (P eter), Kim Dawson (L ucy), A ndrew J ans -B rown (I a n ), M ungo M ackay (T he W aiter)

"W

D evelopment

P roduction Crew

Development: SA F ilm C o r p o r a tio n

Production: FFC, NSWFTO

and

Production co-ordinator: E u iN E W . FORSYTH Production assistants: EMILY SCHULZ,

Pre-production: 16/2/98 - 22/3/98 Production: 23/3/98 - 27/3/98 Post-production: 30/3/98 - 31/5/98

Video transfers by: A A V

T he J ames Gang Pty Ltd Distribution company: B eyond Films , REP D istribution Pre-production: 10/11/97 -1 6 /1 /9 8 Production: 19/1 - 13/3/98 Post-production: 16/3 - 28/8/98

Little

A ssistant editor: A d r ia n M c Q u e e n - M a s o n Laboratory: ClNEVEX

Production: FFC AND SAFC

P u n n in g

Casting consultants: TRACEY L e M in

COMPULSIVE

Laboratory liaison: Ia n ANDERSON

Government A gency I nvestment Development: Film VICTORIA

Composer: David P ickvance Sound recordist: W arwick Finlay

1 i

Short Films

T ed M c Q u e e n - M a s o n

Screen ratio: 13:1 Shooting stock: KODAK

J

he's Ginger Meggs. Australia's classic comic strip character comes to animated life.

ith $13 million who wouldn't?"

A rt Department Art department consultant: NlGEL Da S ilva Set dresser: J enny M cQueen Standby props: Dean M cQueen P ost- production Sound editor: David P ickvance Laboratory: A tlab Gold Coast Shooting stock: 16mm Off-line facilities:PRO-CAM Government A gency I nvestment Production: Pacific Film & T elevision Commission (PFTC) Cast A manda M ires (B ronwyn ), M ichael Forde (D on ), Kay Stevenson (M ary), Paul Denny (D avid ), Caroline D unphy (G eorgie) family fractured by the death of a son. Following their bereavement, an illustration of the healing process as they come to terms with loss.

A

TULIP Principal

credits

Director: Rachel Griffiths Producer: Louise S mith

Cast Charles " B ud " T ingwell, Lois Ramsey fter the death of his wife, an old man comes to terms with the cow that gave her cream for the coffee every morning.

A

Awaiting R elease SEE ISSUE

122

FOR THE FOLLOWING:

AMY DEAD LETTER OFFICE CRACKERS (formerley Family Crackers)

VENUS FACTORY LAST LAUGH

TRUTH ABOUT TARO (116)

Production company: A drenalin Films Budget: $15,000 Production: 5-7 A pril, 1998

SUGAR FACTORY (116) REDBALL(119)

Principal Credits D irector: B radford W alton Producer: BRADFORD WALTON Associate producer: Elaine W . Forsyth Scriptwriter: BRADFORD WALTON Director of photography: M ike McGuiNESS Editor: J ason Ressel

PIGEON (119) GREYSTOKE 2 (119) JUSTICE (121) IN THE WINTER DARK (123) HEAD ON (124)

INTRODUCTION “In p ro d iic tio n ” u f c o m p ile d b y T im H u n te r. P le a s e c o n ta c t h im a t C in e m a P a p e ry T u e s d a y , T h u rs d a y a n d F r id a y a fte rn o o n s , o n 0 3 9 4 1 6 2 6 4 4 o rf a x 0 3 9 4 1 6 4 0 8 8

:

T E L (03) 9416 2644 C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


DESIGNER

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hen Walkabout’s distributors first attempted to release the film, they found it banned. Cuts had to be made in the two waterhole sequences the solitary swim by Girl (Jenny Agutter), and Girl’s later ‘memory’ of her, White Boy (Lucien John) and Black Boy (David Gumpill) bathing together-to remove all hint of pubic hair. I r o n y 1 : When the film was soon after

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shown on television, it was screened uncut. By then, prime-time pubic hair was part of seemingly every Network Nine news coverage of a rock festival. I r o n y 2 : Try telling anyone the film was once banned and they think you’re mad. Is it too much to hope the day will come when “Hey, did you know Said was once banned?” will get the same reaction? S. M.

C I N E M A P A P E R S • J UNE 1998


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Cinema Papers No.125 June 1998  

Cinema Papers No.125 June 1998  

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