Strewth! 2015 Glasgow Film Fest to celebrate Oz cinema

Production still from Geordie (1955)

After a bumper 2014 edition (which featured a handful of Australian films), the Glasgow Film Festival team have been busy planning the next instalment, which runs 18 February to 1 March 2015. Spreading itself even further across the city and taking in an extra day, the festival will include popular returning strands such as FrightFest, Stranger than Fiction and Best of British. Joining the line-up in 2015 will be a host of new strands celebrating, amongst other things, Ingrid Bergman, Glasgow on film, emerging auteurs and – most excitingly (for us at least) – Australian cinema!

Dubbed ‘Strewth!’, the strand pays homage to Commonwealth ties combining new features with time-honoured classics. Here’s the GFF blurb:

As Glasgow hands over the Commonwealth Games to the Gold Coast, we celebrate Australia’s home-grown film industry, from some old favourites to a showcase of the excellent new films coming up from Down Under. The duality between broad, empty outback and the increasingly sleek metropolis, ever-present racial tensions, particularly as they relate to land ownership, and jet-black humour that occasionally veers into a gritted-teeth sense of camp, are themes that run through the last three decades of Aussie cinema, and come together in the films in this strand. Ripper, mate.

Cliched colloquialisms aside – maybe next year they’ll do a Scottish strand called ‘Och, aye!’ – there’s no doubting that this is fantastic news, and whilst this particular advocate for pre-1970 Australian cinema is fairly sure that era will miss out once again, it is great to see a major British film festival giving Australian cinema the attention it deserves.

The 2015 Glasgow Film Festival runs 18 Feb – 1 March, with the full programme announced in late January.

GFF15 Generic poster

[TOP IMAGE: Bill Travers and Alastair Sim in Geordie (1955), in which a young Highland Scot travels to Melbourne to compete at the 1956 Olympic Games.]

Thrills, Spills & Virtuosos: New DVD/Blu/VOD releases

Production still from Felony

Back in early October, the British book trade celebrated a phenomenon known as Super Thursday, their busiest release day of the year, which sees all the big stocking-filler titles – everything from celebrity memoirs to blockbuster novels and sports annuals – hit shops in the lead-up to Christmas. Well, Australian cinema had its own super day (of sorts) this past week, with four excellent titles released for consumption in the comfort of your own home – Felony, Mystery Road, All This Mayhem and The Last Impresario.

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VOX POP: The Babadook

Production still from The Babadook (Source: Icon)

It may be a dying art these days, but anyone of a certain age will likely remember those advertorials where punters were asked what they thought of a film as they left a screening. Well, our semi-regular Vox Pop column is updating that notion for the 21st century by attempting to gauge the mood of the Twitterverse about Australian films in the UK, putting it somewhere between criticism by consensus and an opinionated free-for-all.

Jennifer Kent’s pop-up book scarefest The Babadook landed in British and Irish cinemas on Friday (in what constituted the widest release of an Australian film here for some time). The critics may have lauded it with four and five star reviews, and early indications suggest that it has had a strong opening weekend, but lets see what the punters thought.

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IN CINEMAS: The Babadook

Still from The Babadook (SOURCE: Icon)

A little boy, a mysterious picture book, a strung-out mother still struggling to cope with the death of her husband six years earlier, and one very sinister monster, who may or may not be coming to kill them both.

“If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look – you can’t get rid of the Babadook!”

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OUT NOW: The Last Impresario

lastimp

It may not be a household name, but ‘Michael White’ appears on the credits of 200-odd theatre and film productions. A key cultural player in 1970s Britain, White’s midas hand touched everything from The Rocky Horror Show to Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and introduced ground-breaking figures such as Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch to UK audiences.

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Australia at the BFI London Film Festival 2014

Production still from Charlie's Country

Five fiction features, four documentaries, four shorts and one omnibus film, exploring life and death – from the outback to the city – with detours into sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll – Australian cinema is set to make a significant contribution to the 58th BFI London Film Festival, which takes place in cinemas across London, 8-19 October 2014.

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IN CINEMAS: Mystery Road

Production still from Mystery Road

To celebrate the UK cinema release of Ivan Sen’s potent, highly-charged slow-burn western Mystery Road, this review (of sorts) meanders in search of the film’s place within forty-odd years of through lines in the Australian film industry.

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