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“Is Richard Wolstencroft for real?” pondered a broadsheet journalist as far back as 2004. He is, albeit in the guise of a larger-than-life figure whose ideal reality is often at odds with the accepted norm. First as a film director (Bloodlust, 1992; Pearls Before Swine, 1999; The Beautiful and Damned, 2010) then, for the the last 15 years, as overseer of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF), Richard Wolstencroft (pictured, below) has been at the forefront of transgressive cinema culture in Australia, clashing with censorship advocates, funding sector bureaucrats and conservative mouthpieces on a regular basis. On the eve of MUFF 2014, a very busy Wolstencroft kindly accepted an editorial assignment from SCREEN-SPACE, when we asked him, “What have been the five most important developments in Australia’s undergrond film sector?”…

Super 8 Film Stock. "What underground and indie films were often made on in the 70’s and early 80’s. A really amazing, versatile and fun film format that meant you could be a big time filmmaker, even when you were a kid. I started making Super 8 films in 1980 at age 11. It taught the tactile art of cinema and helped you get out there and really learn cinema the only way possible - by simply doing it. The New York Cinema of Transgression was mostly shot on this format. And so too the Australian Cinema of Transgression, made up of young filmmakers like myself, Mark and Colin Savage, Phillip Brophy, Jon Hewitt and many others." Watch The Power of Super 8 from SXSW Festival, 2010.

The Advent of Home Video. "The arrival of home video in the early 80’s was a complete revolution in cinema and changed the way cinema is seen forever. As kids and early teens we rented everything – including porn – from the local video shop owners, who turned their backs when we snuck into the adult section. The arrival of horror, cult films and ‘video nasties’ also changed aesthetic standards and tastes forever. This was a much more burgeoning cinema culture than most of the arthouse and critically lauded nonsense around at that time. Few things were not on video and this (distribution method) marked the birth of the home cinema age, that has now become so vital in the internet age."

The Making of Made-on-Video Feature Films. "I was honored to be a major catalyst and to be involved in two out of three of the first made-on-video feature films ever shot in this country. Marauders (1986) by Mark Savage and Bloodlust (1991) by Jon Hewitt and my good/evil self. We both wished to carry on the great tradition of Ozploitation cinema and so we did!"

WARNING: Some content may offend.

The Arrival of Video Cinema. "When my old pal Jon Hewitt opened Panorama, Australia’s first video cinema, in the early to mid 90’s, he was laughed at and mocked by many of the blinkered morons in the industry. Now almost every cinema in the country has gone the way of Panorama. That is vision for you! We both knew it was the future after Bloodlust - and why not embrace the future early, we thought?" (Ed: In 2012 interview with, critic Jake Wilson recalled, "the strangest cinema I’ve ever been to was the Panorama, Jon Hewitt’s ahead-of-its-time videotheque on Brunswick St, Fitzroy, which used to show Sam Fuller triple bills and documentaries on what was called the “modern primitive” movement back when body piercing was considered edgy. Now it’s a community credit co-operative. Unless I dreamt the whole thing.")

The Founding of Underground Film Festivals. "The world’s first two Underground Film festivals were the New York and Chicago events (pictured, right; Todd Phillips and Andrew Gurland, co-founders of the New York Underground Film Festival) . I was inspired by both to start MUFF, now the third oldest in the World, I believe. Soon after they popped up all over the place, most notably in Sydney, after (SUFF founder) Stefan Popescu was an official MUFF guest with his short film, Roseberry 7470, about 9 years back now."



They are the men whose shared visions create the most eclectic and challenging collection of cinema on the Australian film festival calendar. Chairman Richard Sowada who, fuelled by the spirit of the now defunct Revelations magazine and its founder Peter Collins, launched a series of 16mm film screenings at Perth’s iconic jazz venue, The Greenwich, in 1997; program director Jack Sargeant, author and academic on all matters counter-culture and underground, has acted as in-house agitant and revolutionary spirit since 2008. So who better to answer the question, “What have been the defining moments in the 17 year history of Revelation Perth International Film Festival?”, than the men behind the madness...?

“Each year is new and each choice is filled with experimentation and a roll of the dice.” - Richard Sowada, Founder and Chairman (pictured, right).

The Banning of Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist: This appeared in Rev '98. It was passed for screening by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, but the ruling was overturned by the local West Australian office. It made print and TV news around the country and taught us how some arms of government and the media work. A challenging experience, for us and the community. We learnt that as far as politics goes, the issue is never about the issue and that our 'editorial stand' was a strong one, which is something that's never really changed. Aside from that, it was lots of fun. It got unbanned, by the way.

Viola Dana playing The General: In 2009, local outfit Viola Dana played the score to Buster Keaton's silent classic The General. I was so beautiful and received a standing ovation. The real thing. It was a true moment where the power of cinema crossed generations. It was one of those things you hope has a real impact on people who may not ever expect that kind of tenderness from a silent film.


Going on Tour: In the first two years of the event, we went touring to Sydney and Adelaide. While a great thing to do, it made us realise that that the idea behind the event can't be transferred. It reinforced that the event is not about films necessarily but the ideal behind what we were trying to do. To manage something like this, you need to have the right state of mind - and in a very conservative film exhibition environment, very few people have that. So we keep it in WA. 

The First International Guest: In our second year, a young Japanese experimental filmmaker named Hideo Oshima came over. He flew himself over for his first time ever in Australia. He'd never seen a beach and he spent his whole time with his shoes off walking on Cottesloe Beach, feeling the sand between his toes. It had a real impact on him. When he came over, I thought we were on our way and now we have over 60 guests.

Every Year…: Rev is such an enormous challenge. In all ways we do things like no other event. It's more than a festival - it's a Union for artists and audiences. The event is a point of advocacy for both, that challenges the difficulties in having a community voice. (We address) funding, distribution and exhibition difficulties and the mentoring (of) new practitioners in every sector of the industry.

“(All) the filmmakers who enter seek to push the medium and I think that it is indicative of the limitless potentials of cinema to stimulate imagination.” - Jack Sargeant, Program Director (pictured, right).

Joe Davis Dancing in the Bar: Davis is an incredible thinker, philosopher, scientist and prankster, who was over to introduce a screening of the film Heaven and Earth and Joe Davis which documented part of his life. This is a fascinating movie about a genuinely unique figure, and having him in town was great. Joe hit it off with everyone and opened people's eyes to many things. We have been blessed with many enjoyable guests, and to me that is still a really special part of the festival.

Crispin Glover screening What Is It? and It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine: These are powerful, visionary movies and to watch them was an incredible experience. Not only did he screen his films, he also performed both parts of his Big Slide Show (one part each night, prior to the films) which was a magical and unique dramatic narration of his beautiful books. An incredibly dedicated individual, he answered questions from the audience and then met audience members individually to sign books and talk to people. 


Lawrence English performing a live soundtrack to Harry Smith's Early Abstractions: This was at my first Revelation, and I had commissioned Lawrence to write a new soundtrack to this series of experimental animated films. Of course, his soundtrack was as beautiful and visionary as you would imagine, and people loved seeing the films and listening to the music.  

Revel8: Our annual screening of super 8 movies. Anyone can enter; there have been submissions from experimental filmmakers, students, friends, artists, and jokers over the years. There's a real pleasure in the possibilities inherent in this event. The films may be experimental, visionary, irreverent, entertaining or infuriating, but they are always unique and made with a kind of wild enthusiastic passion. I'd like to think that the potentialities of Revel 8 movies reflect something of the potentialities of all the films we screen at the festival.  

The Revelation Bar: There's a lot of hanging out at Revelation after movies, and one of the key aspects is that everyone is welcome. The bar becomes the de facto centre of the festival with filmmakers, guests, artists, musicians, audience members and academics just talking and discussing ideas. You can see fruitful exchanges taking place, friendships being forged and a real air of enjoyment, which makes the whole thing very special. (pictured, right; Sowada, left, and Sargeant flank revellers at a recent Revelation social event)

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival will run July 3-13 in several venues in and around Perth, Western Australia. For full program details and tickets, visit the official website here.



Adelaide’s iconic Mercury Cinema will roll out the red carpet on May 16 for the annual The South Australian Screen Awards, the prestigious event celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2014. Honouring the filmmakers of arguably the most vibrant state film sector in Australia, the gala welcomes dignitaries to an evening that honours the region’s short-film visionaries across 16 key categories. Ahead of the event, SCREEN-SPACE profiles the nominees in one of the most hotly contested fields, the Best Short Drama.

Plot: A man awakens in a room with two doors. Each door “loops” into the other. The only objects within the room are a red ball and a revolver containing a single bullet. How do you escape a loop?
Watch if you liked: Cube (Vincenzo Natali, 1997); Symbol (Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2009) 
The most important lesson I learnt from the film-making experience was…: “…resources matter in filmmaking. We made Enfilade without funding on a budget of $2900 with a crew consisting nearly entirely of students. We are incredibly grateful to the kindness exhibited to us by family, friends, filmmakers, non-filmmakers, mentors and local businesses that allowed us to create a film beyond our monetary means.” – David Coyle, Director (pictured, above).

Plot: Australia has gone dark, one city after another fades out into the night. A comet looms in the sky, its silent approach filling the population with dread. What will this comet bring? What is Omega? An apocalyptic vision seen through the eyes of an idealistic soldier (Adam Schmerl; pictured, right) and the nurse he loves (Kate Englefield).
Watch if you liked: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Lorene Scafaria, 2012); Miracle Mile (Steve De Jarnatt, 1988).
The most important lesson I learnt from the film-making experience was…: “…not to underestimate the support and determination of the Adelaide film community. Despite not having a film school behind me, I was still afforded the opportunity of having both industry professionals and fellow new starters (such as myself) to help realise Omega and bring it to completion." – Peter Ninos, Director.

Plot: Grief and guilt erode the already fractured existence of the teenage Lara (Emma Watson) and her father (Gary Harrison), all that is left of an idyllic life torn apart by tragedy. When her young love Vince (Russell Lucas) reappears, Lara is torn between the memory of a once happy family and her desire to be with Vince, despite her father’s wishes.
Watch if you liked: Puberty Blues (Bruce Beresford, 1981); River’s Edge (Tim Hunter, 1986).
The most important lesson I learnt from the film-making experience was…: “…trusting the process.  Meaning that if you know what your vision is and if you believe in yourself and your vision, and if you pick the right people to help you in the journey, then most likely the result will be something good." – Nima Raoofi, Director (pictured, left). 

Plot: Franciose (Mandahla Rose; pictured, right) is an astronaut, her interstellar journey bringing her back to a home planet that has all but been destroyed. She reunites with her husband, who lives an idyllic existence by the ocean, but Franciose knows she must return to her time to warn the planet of its impending demise. But can she go back?
Watch if you liked: Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972); The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006).
The most important lesson I learnt from the film-making experience was…: “…never be afraid of being smart but try not to be too clever for the films good. Showing off can distract from the storytelling.” – Aaron Schuppan, Director.

Plot: The planet is consumed by a flood of biblical proportions, the rain forcing small groups of survivors into dark, underground enclaves where their faith and sanity are tested. So desperate is this existence, one group has turned to the ritualistic drowning of children. The last in line, a 12 year-old boy named Briggs (Elijah Baker), may be mankind’s only hope of survival.    
Watch if you liked: 1984 (Michael Radford, 1984); Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006). 
The most important lesson I learnt from the film-making experience was…: “…to always follow your vision, no matter how stressful or cluttered the process becomes. Don't take the shortcut. Fight for what you want to be on the screen.” – Danny Philippou, Co-director (pictured, left; with co-director, Michael Philippou).

The 2014 South Australian Screen Awards will be held at The Mercury Cinema in Adelaide on Friday May 16. For full information including winners from all categories visit their website.

SCREEN-SPACE Managing Editor Simon Foster was among the judging panel for the Best Drama Short.



The Rocket upped its award season tally further with director Kim Morduant (pictured, below) taking home the top honour at the Australian Director’s Guild annual ceremony, held tonight at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney’s CBD.

Morduant’s trophy cabinet has grown heavy since the film hit the international festival circuit; in addition to the honours he has amassed as director of the low-budget drama, his script was recognised by the Australian Film Institute and Australian Writer’s Guild.

The win represents the 26th international trophy that the Australian/Laotian/Thai co-production has snared, which has previously won kudos from such renowned judging bodies as Berlin Film Festival, Calgary Film Festival and Film Critics Circle of Australia; it has also won audience awards at the Tribeca, Leeds, Cinekid, Sydney, Melbourne and American Film Institute festivals.

The Feature Documentary Award went to Sophia Turkiewicz (pictured, right) for her autobiographical chronicle, Once My Mother. The deeply moving film tells of the director’s investigation into her family heritage, where she explores why her Polish mother might have abandoned her when she was only seven years of age.

Julietta Boscolo received the Best Director Short Film Award for her drama, Sam’s Gold, a project that was awarded Screen NSW’s Emerging Filmmaker Fund. It is the first win for Boscolo, who has enjoyed warm acceptance for her film from such festivals as Perth’s Revelation Festival (where it premiered in 2013), the Brisbane International Film Festival, the recent Byron Bay Film Festival and will screen at the prestigious St Kilda Film Festival on May 28. Her previous short, Safe, was nominated for top honours at the Canberra Film Festival. (Read the SCREEN-SPACE interview with Boscolo here).

In a cross-cultural show of support, the Director’s Guild of America partners with their Australian colleagues and funds the Finders Award, an initiative that ensures US exposure for a feature film that has yet to find American distribution. The 2014 recipient was Catriona McKenzie for her film Satellite Boy; the director will now accompany the film at industry screenings in Los Angeles and New York.

The honorees reflect the progressive industry stance adopted by the Australian Director’s Guild, with seven of the sixteen category winners being female filmmakers; all six directors nominated for the Documentary Feature honour were women.

The full list of winners from the 2014 ADG Awards can be found here



Few come close to the unbridled joy that David Hannay felt for cinema. The Australian producer was at the forefront of the local film resurgence in the 1970’s and remained a passionate promoter of talent up until his passing, on Monday March 31, having been diagnosed with cancer in April 2012. He was 74.

Known for shepherding such productions as the Ozploitation classics Stone (1974) and The Man From Hong Kong (1975), Hannay was, in fact, the true ‘multi-hyphenate’. He stepped before his own cameras to fill bit parts, most recently in his 2001 family film, Hildegarde; provided uncredited screenplay doctoring in conjunction with his writers on several projects, despite only seeking one writing credit, on 1988’s The Shadowed Mind; and, would oversee pre- and post-production duties on his films with an encyclopaedic knowledge that earned him the utmost respect from his colleagues.

Born June 23, 1939, in New Zealand, he began his love affair with the performing arts at the age of nine, debuting on stage in a school production. By 1958, he had entry into the production sector with a casting assistant position at Artransa Park Studios in Sydney’s north-west for Leslie Norman’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (pictured, right; aka, Season of Passion), an international production of Ray Lawler’s Australian classic starring Ernest Borgnine, John Mills and Anne Baxter. He spent the next decade accumulating experience in a multitude of production tasks across both film and television mediums.

His first production credit would be in 1970, as executive producer on Frank Brittain’s groundbreaking drama, The Set. One of the earliest and most forthright depictions of homosexuality on Australian screens, it exhibited Hannay’s particular skill of combining hot-button social issues with insightful commentary and commercial instinct. This ethic secured him the role of Head of Production at Gemini Productions in 1970 and led to his guiding influence on such projects as the top-rating docos Jesus Christ Superstar (1972) and Kung Fu Killers (1974) and hit TV series The Godfathers, The People Next Door and The Unisexers.

In the early 70s, Hannay (pictured, left; in 1973) began developing a tough-minded undercover cop story set against the world of outlaw bikie gangs. The vision began to coalesce as a vehicle for wild-man actor/director Sandy Harbutt, whom Hannay had met whilst producing the 1972 TV movie Crisis. In 1974, the R-rated action thriller Stone was released and became a box-office smash; Hannay, who also had a production credit on the bawdy big-screen version of the TV series Number 96 and executive-produced Brian Trenchard-Smith’s The Man from Hong Kong, was at the forefront of one of the most commercially successful periods in Australian cinema history.

Hannay parlayed his profile into several interesting projects. He would co-produce with writer/director Tony Williams on the drama Solo (1978), an Australian-New Zealand co-production; exhibit a playful touch with Peter Maxwell’s action/comedy Touch and Go (1980), with Wendy Hughes and Chantal Contouri; cast up-and-comer Jon Blake in the thriller Early Frost (1982), a troubled production that saw Hannay step into the director’s chair for the only time in his career; and, secured Hollywood star James Coburn for his 1986 prestige picture, the true-life story Death of a Soldier, from director Phillipe Mora.

Other highlights from a production career spanning five decades include Oliver Schmitz’s anti-apartheid thriller, Mapantsula (1988; pictured, right), for which he was given the Human Rights Australia Film Award; George Miller’s Gross Misconduct (1993), with Jimmy Smits and Naomi Watts; Aden Young and Zoe Carides in Shotgun Wedding (1993), from director Paul Harmon; the Australian/French co-production, Love in Ambush (1997), adapted from Loup Durand’s novel by director Carl Schultz and starring Jacques Perrin and Sigrid Thornton; and, Murray Fahey’s black comedy/horror Cubbyhouse (2001), with Joshua Leonard. Hannay’s final producer’s credit was David Huggett’s 2012 musical documentary, Once Around The Sun.

David Hannay’s full silvery beard made him easy to spot at industry events, where he enjoyed networking with old friends and making many new ones (he was particularly proud of the thirteen first-time directors whose debut projects he produced). An avid attendee of the Cannes marketplace, the Screen Producer’s Association of Australia (SPAA) annual conference and the exhibitor/distributor confab The Australian International Movie Convention, the adoration for the late David Hannay can be measured by the honours bestowed upon him by his peers – the Producer’s and Director’s Guild Lifetime achievement honour in 1996; the Australian Cinema Pioneers Society highest honour, Pioneer of the Year; the inaugural Maura Fay Award recipient for industry service at the 2002 SPAA event; the coveted Raymond Longford award, the highest honour bestowed by the Australian Film Institute, in 2007; and, the National Film and Sound Archive Ken G Hall Award for Film Preservation in 2011.

A long time resident of Yeltholme in the New South Wales rural western region, he established the Bathurst Film Factory co-operative in November 2012, to foster the filmmaker talent in the area. In one of his final interviews, he spoke of influencing his favourite artform long after his demise, which he knew to be imminent. “Whatever time I’ve got, I want to devote to the next generation,” Mr Hannay said. “That’s my obligation, my passion.”

David Hannay is survived by his wife, author Mary Moody (pictured, right), and their four children. A memorial service will be held at a date to be advised in the weeks ahead.

Footnote: I spent many hours talking movies with David, a gentleman whose grace, enthusiasm and experience inspired me. I lunched with him in 2011, discussing a documentary project on the loss of regional cinemas, which I regret never came to fruition. The meeting went well into the afternoon, allowing David to reminisce about his career and friends. I will be forever grateful for the time he afforded me. My prayers go to his family. He will be missed.



The 2014 Byron Bay International Film Festival (BBIFF) is a mere four days into its 10 day run and already its well-earned reputation as a festival committed to fostering Australian talent has been strengthened. The eclectic tastes of Festival director J’aimee Skippon-Volke (pictured, below) ensured that opinion was widely divided amongst the festival crowds, who have enjoyed passionate discussions about the Australian content programmed. Below are snapshot reviews of some challenging works from the festival’s opening salvo of homegrown films…

HEAVEN (Dir: Maziar Lahooti; 14 mins)
Confronting the local smack dealer James (Wayne Davies) at gunpoint, an elderly man (Don Reid) demands to be taken through the process of injecting a dangerously high amount of heroin. Maziar Lahooti’s beautifully shot but relentlessly bleak drama unfolds in a compellingly fragmented structure that provocatively asks its audience to consider not only the nature of one of modern societies most divisive issues but also their own definition of true love. It is a downer, though… Rating: 3.5/5

HUNGRY MAN (Dir: Jordan Prosser; 17 mins; Official website)
Echoes of Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic characters, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s darkly-stylish composition and David Cronenberg’s body-horror ickiness are evident in Jordan Prosser’s gleefully ghoulish romp. Declan (Brendan Barnett) eats what the tapeworm in his gut tells him to eat; the lovely Jennifer Feathers (a wonderful Jennifer Frew; pictured, right) is attracted to Declan, and he to her. But only because the tapeworm craves the one meat that Declan has yet to injest… An edgy, odd, engaging tone turns downright horrifying in a final shot that left an unsuspecting audience gasping. Rating: 4.5/5

ADVANCE AUSTRALIAN FILM (Dir: Courtney Dawson; 60 mins; Official website)
Courtney Dawson parades a bevy of talking heads before her camera in Advance Australian Film, a cry for help in answering the question, “How do we revive the commercial life of our film industry?” The debutant documentarian employs historical context, current ‘buzz’ topics and solid star wattage; A-listers such as Russell Crowe and Baz Luhrmann were nabbed unawares at red carpet premieres and offer soundbite responses at best. It is the opinions of the more low-key festival directors, curators, analysts and up-and-comers that provide Dawson’s films with its most worthwhile moments. Occasionally sounds a little too much like a boozy Friday arvo on a film shoot, where everyone knows what’s wrong (“I mean, where’s the next Mad Max?!”) but no one has an answer. But Dawson’s passion for the sector is clear and commendable. Rating: 3/5 

CONDOM (Dir: Sheldon Lieberman; 4 mins)
The latest hilarious short from the Spike and Dadda web-series had its World Premiere at BBFF and proved every bit as hilariously winning as the episodes to date (all of them online here). Dadda is faced with one of those parenting moments, when his little boy Spike wants to know what a condom is; Dadda finds himself spiralling down a rabbit hole of awkwardness. Minimalist but wonderfully expressive animation and a great script earned Condom the biggest laughs of the Festival to date. Rating: 4/5

TWO BROTHERS WALKING (Dir: David Salomon; 49 mins; Official website)
The spiritual legacy passed through centuries of indigenous culture is explored within the framework of two men - one raised by tribal bush laws, the other only just beginning to fully comprehend his ancestry. Together they impart the essence of Wanampi Inma, a song and dance ritual that tells the story of the Rainbow Serpent and continues to bind generations. David Salomon’s bare-bones, ‘old school’-style doco is an intimate, densely-layered exploration of Aboriginal lore as it pertains to the lives and journeys of two fascinating individuals. Rating: 4/5

A WOMAN’S DEEPER JOURNEY INTO SEX (Dir: Sally McKenzie; 75 mins; Official website)
Even at 75 minutes, Sally McKenzie’s playful but puerile glimpse inside the hearts, minds and vaginas of the modern woman overstays its welcome. The director would serve both her film and her audience a great service by discarding all the bridging scenes that involve the construct ‘Detective Lacey’, a film noir-ish character who guides us through this ‘investigation’ of female sexuality. There are some interesting facts and fun characters, but McKenzie struggles to offer anything very new to say; how women relate to pornography, sex toys, male prostitution, etc is addressed, but the first person accounts are trite, the tone giggly and the academic input undervalued. An extended sequence of female-friendly porn clips is gratuitous. The concept may work better as smallscreen fare, where the ‘Lacey’ scenes can be jettisoned and content left on the cutting room floor can be reinstated for a more in-depth study. Rating: 2/5

The Byron Bay International Film Festival will run until March 9 at venues in Byron Bay and selected regional venues. Ticket and program information can be found on the Festival site.

SCREEN-SPACE is on the Festival judging panel and attending as a guest of the Festival.



The most critically divisive Australian film of 2013 has swept the pool at the 2013 AACTA Awards. Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby carried momentum from the the luncheon awards function, where his F Scott Fitzgerald adaptation acquired all the technical categories on offer.

The highly-touted, ‘David-vs-Goliath’ showdown between Kim Morduant’s The Rocket and Luhrmann’s mega-budgeted, studio-backed pic proved far less potent than the match-up promised. Mordaunt’s Lao-language critical darling, whose 12 nominations placed it in a neck-&-neck tussle with Gatsby’s 14 nods leading into the contest, went home with just a single trophy for Original Screenplay.

Baz Luhrmann’s passion project captured six gongs at the gala event, snaring Best Film, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor (for Leonardo Dicaprio), Supporting Actor (Joel Edgerton) and Supporting Actress (Elizabeth Debicki). At the daytime function, Luhrmann’s American Dream epic took home trophies for Cinematography (Simon Duggan), Editing (Matt Villa ASE, Jason Ballantine ASE and Jonathan Redmond), Sound (Wayne Pashley MPSE, Jenny Ward MPSE, Fabian Sanjurjo, Steve Maslow, Phil Heywood and Guntis Sics), Original Music (Craig Armstrong), Production Design (Catherine Martin, Karen Murphy, Ian Gracie and Beverley Dunn), Costume Design (Catherine Martin, Silvana Azzi Heras and Kerry Thompson) and Visual Effects (Chris Godfrey, Prue Fletcher, Tony Cole and Andy Brown).

Gatsby’s sweep did not envelope the Best Actress category, which went to Rose Byrne for the portmanteau project, The Burning.

Pre-ordained recipients included Jackie Weaver,  who took home the AACTA Raymond Longford Award; the Australian Cinematographers Society left with the prestige Byron Kennedy Award honours.

The full list of winners (highlighted below) are:


DEAD EUROPE Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Liz Watts

THE GREAT GATSBY Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher and Catherine Knapman.

THE ROCKET Sylvia Wilczynski

SATELLITE BOY David Jowsey, Julie Ryan and Catriona McKenzie

THE TURNING Robert Connolly, Maggie Miles and The Turning Ensemble


THE ROCKET Kim Mordaunt

THE TURNING The Turning Ensemble

100 BLOODY ACRES Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes

DRIFT Morgan O'Neill and Tim Duffy


THE ROCKET Kim Mordaunt

ADORATION Christopher Hampton


THE GREAT GATSBY Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce
THE TURNING The Turning Ensemble

Leonardo DiCaprio THE GREAT GATSBY
Sitthiphon Disamoe THE ROCKET


Hugo Weaving THE TURNING




Marton Csokas DEAD EUROPE

Thep Phongam THE ROCKET

Angus Sampson 100 BLOODY ACRES

Elizabeth Debicki THE GREAT GATSBY

Mirrah Foulkes THE TURNING

Alice Keohavong THE ROCKET



The films that will battle out the 2014 Oscar ceremony convey a sense that the power brokers amongst Hollywood’s ivory towers are rewarding their own Generation X influences, ie money, fame and fantasy, with a thin coating of honourable indignation. David O’Russell’s wildly self-indulgent spin on self-indulgence, American Hustle, and Alfonso Cuaron’s existential sci-fi saga, Gravity (pictured, below) lead the nominations with 10 nods, followed by Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave with 9, in a field that showed scant regard for old-school, Oscar-friendly contenders.


American Hustle Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
Captain Phillips Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
Dallas Buyers Club Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
Gravity Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
Her Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
Nebraska Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
Philomena Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
12 Years a Slave Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
The Wolf of Wall Street Nominees to be determined
But what about…?: Oscar voters displayed a sparrow’s attention span this year, with no film prior to the early October release date of Gravity earning a Picture nomination. Which meant no glory for Lee Daniel’s The Butler, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station or Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. The Coen Brother’s long, happy history with the Academy was halted with the shut-out of Inside Llewyn Davis; Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight might’ve figured at one point. Unlike past years, no foreign language or animated feature stepped up.


Christian Bale in American Hustle
Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (pictured, below)
But what about…?: Bale and DiCaprio were no certainties and point to a younger influence amongst AMPAS members; even Bruce Dern, the one veteran amongst the group, is a counter-culture figure who has often been at odds with the studio system. The most glaring no-shows are Robert Redford (All is Lost) and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks), though consider that Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Forrest Whittaker (Lee Daniel’s The Butler), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt) and Hugh Jackman (Prisoners) also missed out.

Amy Adams in American Hustle
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (pictured, below)
Sandra Bullock in Gravity
Judi Dench in Philomena
Meryl Streep in August: Osage County
But what about…?: The British. Sure, Judi Dench is deservedly present, but where are past Oscar favourites Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks) and Kate Winslet (Labor Day), both of whom deserved a nod over Ms Streep’s histrionics in August: Osage County. The presence of Dench and Aussie icon Cate Blanchett can’t hide the fact that international cinema was disgracefully ignored in this category, with Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Colour), Berenice Bejo (The Past) and Zhang Ziyi (The Grandmaster) all missing out.

American Hustle
David O. Russell
Gravity Alfonso Cuarón
Nebraska Alexander Payne
12 Years a Slave Steve McQueen
The Wolf of Wall Street Martin Scorsese (pictured, below, on-set)
But what about…?: Spike Jonze earned an Original Screenplay nomination for Her, but if the film was going to be a serious contender he needed to feature here. Hanks’ snubbing suggests Captain Phillips fell out of favour at some point, explaining Paul Greengrass’ omission. Perennials such as Allen and the Coen’s lost momentum; newcomers JC Chandor (All is Lost) and Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyer’s Club) have put the Academy on notice. A longshot was PeterBerg for his masculine handling of the action in Lone Survivor, but that didn’t pan out.

Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper in American Hustle (pictured, below)
Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club
But what about…?: Jonah Hill is the category bolter, having found no love from most of the award ceremonies to date. His inclusion probably bumped the late James Gandolfini (Enough Said), John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis) or possibly James Franco (Spring Breakers). Daniel Bruhl was unlucky, having been great in both Rush and The Fifth Estate, two box-office non-starters.

Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts in August: Osage County
June Squibb in Nebraska
But what about…?: Oprah. Also Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour) and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), but it was Ms Winfrey who appeared podium-bound when The Butler became a breakout hit.

The Act of Killing Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen (pictured, below)
Cutie and the Boxer Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
The Square Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
20 Feet from Stardom Nominees to be determined
But what about…?: The role that Gabriella Cowperthwaite’s stunning Blackfish has played in changing the way the public view sea mammals in captivity has been as profoundly impactful as the similarly-themed 2010 Oscar winner in this category, The Cove. Also notably absent is Sarah Polley’s vividly original Stories We Tell, which has won LA and NYC film critic honours and the National Board of Review Best Docomentary prize.

The Croods Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
Despicable Me 2 Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
Ernest & Celestine Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
Frozen Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
The Wind Rises Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki
But what about…?: Pixar. Planes was sub-par and never stood a chance, but surely Monster’s University had the edge on Despicable Me 2. It is only the second time Pixar have not featured in this category; the previous no-show was Cars 2.

The Broken Circle Breakdown Belgium
The Great Beauty Italy (pictured, below)
The Hunt Denmark
The Missing Picture Cambodia
Omar Palestine
But what about…?: AMPAS really stuck it to their French colleagues, all but ignoring the eligible films that featured amongst the Cannes 2013 winner’s list (The Past; Ilo Ilo; Heli). Despite critical momentum, Australia’s The Rocket (utilizing the Lao dialect), Brazil’s Neighbouring Sounds, Hong Kong’s The Grandmaster and Saudi Arabia’s Wadjda were unrewarded.

For a full list of nominations for the 86th Academy Awards, click here.

The 86th Academy Awards will be held on March 2 at the Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles.



The mega-budget extravagance of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby faces off against the meagre means of Kim Morduant’s The Rocket in what is shaping up as a David and Goliath arm-wrestle at this year’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards.

Nominations for the 3rd annual industry sector backslap were announced today, with Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road, Tony Krawitz’s Dead Europe (5 nominations) and the anthology effort The Turning (7 nominations) rounding out most nods in the key categories.

Our most flamboyant director’s take on F Scott Fitzgerald’s very American literary classic divided critics but did enough to earn 14 nominations, the most of any film from the qualifying period. Amongst its noms are Film, Director, Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Actress (Carey Mulligan) and three names across the two supporting acting fields (Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Elizabeth Debicki). As expected, the state of the art production dominated the technical sections, with costume design, production design, sound and editing all honoured. Craig Armstrong’s music and Luhrmann and Craig Pearce’s adapted screenplay are also in the running.

MIFF’s Audience award winner, The Rocket (pictured, right), nabbed 11 nominations, including Film, Director and Original Screenplay. The film’s diminutive and charismatic leading man, Sitthiphon Disamoe, scored a Best Actor nomination (a category that he has already won, at the Tribeca Film Festival). Co-star Alice Keohavong snared a Supporting Actress mention; Thep Phongam, so memorable as ‘Uncle Purple’, is Supporting Actor nominated. 

The Rocket is one of the films that explore the plight of indigenous cultures that have been recognised by the AACTA voting committee. Ivan Sen’s crime thriller Mystery Road (6 nominations) and Catriona McKenzie’s Satellite Boy (2 nominations) are contenders, as is Rodd Rathjen’s Himalayan-set story of personal discovery, Tau Seru (Small Yellow Field), which is vying for Best Short Fiction Film honours.

No doubt surprising some but delighting many of those that saw the film was the recognition afforded Colin and Cameron Cairnes pitch-black horror-comedy 100 Bloody Acres, which snared Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Angus Sampson; pictured, left) nods. Categories were further filled out by Mark Lamprell’s Goddess (3 nominations), Anne Fontaine’s Adoration (4 nominations) and Ben Nott and Morgan O’Neill’s Drift (4 nominations).

First among notable omissions must be Aaron Pedersen’s commanding lead turn in Mystery Road, along with stellar work by Robin Wright (Adoration), Damon Herriman and Anna McGahan (100 Bloody Acres), Judd Overton (DOP on Return to Nim’s Island) and several of the creative team behind Boyd Hicklin’s cricket comedy Save Your Legs.

The full list of nominees for the 2013 AACTA Awards, including Short Film, Documentary and Television categories can be found here. 



A heady mix of contemporary French films will contrast retrospective strands from two of European cinemas giants at the 2014 French Film Festival, touring Australia in March and April under the stewardship of the French cultural initiative, Alliance Francaise.

From its launch in 1989, the event has grown to become the biggest foreign-language film festival annually in Australia; organisers boast that it is one of the world’s largest celebrations of French cinema outside of France. The public continues to respond; attendance figures have risen an astonishing 194% over the last eight years, with screenings now held in six capital cities. In 2014, a ‘Best of…’ season will debut in Byron Bay, an artistic regional centre on the New South Wales north coast.

Next year’s event will launch 40 new works, including 32 Australian premieres, from such celebrated auteurs as Betrand Tavernier (political satire Quai d’Orsay; featured, below), Sylvain Chomet (whimsical fantasy Attila Marcel), Phillippe Le Guay (the feel-good comedy Cycling with Moliere) and Bruno Dumont (controversial period drama Camille Claudel 1915, with Juliette Binoche; pictured, top). The event kicks off in Sydney on March 4 with the International Premiere of Nils Tavernier’s rousing sports drama, The Finishers.

International guests have yet to be confirmed, although there is no shortage of star power on display. In addition to Binoche, stars featured include Diane Kruger (Guillame Gallienne’s Me Myself and Mum), Daniel Auteuil (Christian Duguay’s Jappeloup), Romain Duris (Regis Roinsard’s Populaire), Tahar Rahim and Lea Seydoux (Rebecca Zlotowski’s Grand Central), Gabriel Byrne (Jerome Bonnell’s Just a Sigh), Jean Dujardin (Eric Rochant’s Mobius), Mads Mikkelsen (Arnaud des Pallieres’ Michael Kohlhaas), Tcheky Karyo (Belle and Sebastian) and Fanny Ardant (Marion Vernoux’s Bright Days Ahead).

Of particular interest is the Festival organiser’s faith is first-time works from a new wave of French directing talent. Anne Weil, co-directing with Philippe Kotlarski, debuts on the 70’s-set thriller, Friends from France; Stephan Archinard and Francois Prevot-Leygonie adapt the play, True Friends; cinematographer Christophe Offenstein’s epic open-sea adventure, Turning Tide (pictured, right); Jean-Marc Rudnicki’s crowdpleaser, Wrestling Queens; and, David Perrault’s monochromatic crime thriller Our Heroes Died Tonight, a supremely stylish exercise in noir than has drawn comparisons to Tarantino and Scorsese.

In tune with the celebratory tone of the 25th anniversary gathering, two of the greats of French film will have some of their most iconic works screened. Fully restored versions of classic works from comedy great Jacques Tati will be on show. These include Jour de Fete (1949), Mon Oncle (1958; featured, below), Mr Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Parade (1974), Play Time (1967) and Trafic (1971). The Closing Night film will be chosen by audience poll from Tati’s retrospective. And rarely-seen works from new-wave great Francois Truffaut will feature in one of the Festival’s most prestigious programming strands in its history (titles yet to be announced).

Honouring their nation’s presence and legacy in the Pacific, the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival will also screen a selection of titles from Le Festival du Film Documentaire Oceanien (FIFO), the region’s leading factual film screening platform, held in Tahiti.  Films screening are Gils Breussail’s seafaring chronicle, And Sail to the Australes; Vincent Perazio’s mystical shipwreck story, La Monique, A Caledonian Wound; and, Alain Gordon-Gentil’s and Laurant Ramamonjiarisoa’s autobiographical account of Belgian cult-figure, Jacques Brel, The Home Stretch.

The Alliance Francaise French Film Festival will post details of the schedule closer to the event on its official website.