Hot on the heels of a bumper 2014, the first Australian home entertainment releases of 2015 hit UK shelves – real and virtual – earlier this week.
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.
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.
After kicking off on February 20, the Glasgow Film Festival is now in full swing, and includes a handful of Australian films, including Mystery Road, Tracks, The Last Impresario, and the UK premiere of Wolf Creek 2.
It’s a dark, disturbing, grueling exploration of the dark side of the Australian psyche. It also happens to be one of the finest films to ever emerge from that sunburnt country, and following revivals in Australia and the United States, it’s finally about to earn its due in Britain.
The annual fiesta of film that is the BFI London Film Festival kicked off earlier this week, with a handful of Australian films set to ‘thrill’ audiences, show them ‘love’ and take them on a ‘journey’.
Ivan Sen’s excellent slow-burn thriller Mystery Road, starring Aaron Pedersen as an Aboriginal cop returning to his hometown and immediately thrown into a murder investigation, opened the ‘Thrill’ strand as its gala film on Thursday (repeating the feat of The Sapphires, which screened as the Nintendo gala at last year’s festival). A big crowd also took in Mystery Road yesterday at the Odeon West End (Leicester Square), with an intro and Q&A with Australian screen legend Jack Thompson (one of a myriad of familiar Australian actors peppered throughout the film). Mystery Road gets its final LFF screening on Saturday October 19 at the Curzon Renoir. That last session is now sold out, but hopefully the film’s exposure at LFF will encourage a British distributor to give it a wider UK release.
Based on the true story of Robyn Davidson’s 1977 solo camel trek across the Australian outback, John Curran’s mesmerising Tracks, starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver, takes a place in the official competition strand, competing for the Best Film award with three screenings next week; Tuesday (15/10) and Wednesday (16/10) at the Odeon West End, followed by a sold-out screening on Saturday October 19 at Screen on the Green in Islington. Tracks has UK distribution via eOne, and should be in British and Irish cinemas in early 2014. [Book]
The festival’s ‘Love’ strand plays host to French-Australian co-production Adore [aka Adoration], directed by Anne Fontaine, based on a Doris Lessing short story and starring Robin Wright and Naomi Watts as inseparable childhood friends with grown-up sons, with absent fathers drawing the four drawn ever closer together. The film has already had two screenings at the Vue West End, with one final chance to see it on Sunday (13/10) at Ciné Lumière. Adore should also get a UK theatrical release via Exclusive, with Paramount scheduled to handle VOD and home entertainment releases. [Book]
Another international co-production plays in the ‘Journey’ strand, with Kim Mordaunt’s Australia-Laos-Thailand produced The Rocket, a rural drama of displacement and resilience. Fresh from winning awards and critical praise at the Sydney, Berlin and Tribecca film festivals, the film has already had two screenings at the ICA and Rich Mix, with a final showing on Monday (14/10) at Vue West End. Having already been acquired by Eureka Entertainment, The Rocket should also get a limited UK theatrical release soon. [Book]
Also on show at LFF are two Australian-produced documentaries; Kitty Green makes her feature doc debut with Ukraine Is Not A Brothel [book] – an expose of controversial Ukrainian female activist group Femen – which screens in the documentary competition strand on Friday (18/10) at BFI Southbank and Sunday (20/10) at Vue West End, whilst Gracie Otto’s profile of notorious London theatre and film bon vivant Michael White in The Last Impresario [book] , which screens as part of the ‘Love’ strand at the Odeon West End tomorrow (Sunday 13/10) and a sold-out session at BFI Southbank on Tuesday (15/10). Also screening at LFF this year is Michelle Blanchard’s short film Aboriginal Heart, which plays support to South London-set adolescent comedy-drama Gone Too Far! There are three screenings next weekend at Odeon West End (18/10), Hackney Picturehouse (19/10) and Vue West End (20/10). [Book]
The BFI London Film Festival runs until October 20 at venues across central London. As always, for more information on upcoming festival screenings, theatrical and home releases and one-off events, keep an eye on our Aussie Film Calendar.