The Hunter

Introducing… FilmFest Australia

FilmFest Australia 2012

More astute UK-based fans of Australian cinema may have noticed that March came and went this year with a notable absence on the London film calendar. Over seventeen glorious years, the Barbican’s annual London Australian Film Festival had existed to satisfy our cinematic appetites for all things Aussie.

Sadly, however, the 2011 LAFF was the Barbican’s last, threatening to leave us all high and dry. But fear ye not, UK-based Aussie film fans because the wonderful FilmFest Australia is rising, phoenix-like to take LAFF’s place in 2012 and beyond. Newly independent, but still programmed and coordinated by the core team behind LAFF, FilmFest Australia promises to continue that festival’s dedication to bringing an array of antipodean cinema treats to UK audiences.

Later this month, FilmFest Australia will be inaugurated with a taster festival at two Picturehouse venues in London, kicking off at the Clapham Picturehouse before skipping across town the following weekend to its freshly minted Hackney cousin. In 2013, the festival hopes to expand to LAFF proportions, with a full programme of features, documentaries and shorts showcasing the latest and greatest Aussie films. But this initial 2012 edition is no slouching affair, with one world premiere slotting alongside a host of UK debuts, with every screening preceded by a specially selected short from the team at Flickerfest, Australia’s premier short film festival.

Not Suitable for Children - Australian posterThe FFA 2012 festivites get underway on Friday September 14 at Clapham Picturehouse with the UK premiere of Peter Templeman’s Michael Lucas-scripted testicular cancer comedy Not Suitable for Children starring Ryan Kwanten and Sarah Snook, followed by a festival screening of a film currently on UK general release, Stephan ‘Priscilla‘ Elliott’s rawkus Blue Mountains wedding farce, A Few Best Men. On the Saturday, the south-west London venue plays host to another UK prem – legendary director Fred Schepisi’s Patrick White adaptation, The Eye of the Storm, starring Charlotte Rampling and festival patron Geoffrey Rush – and the first ever public screening (and thus world premiere!) of Mark Lamprell’s Goddess, a kitsch’n sink musical comedy starring Laura Michelle Kelly, Magda Szubanski and Ronan Keating! The Clapham leg of the fest concludes on Sunday September 16 with Sophie Hyde and Bryan Mason’s moving dance doco Life In Movement and Ivan Sen’s indigenous gangster tale, Toomelah.

The following weekend sees FilmFest Australia move to the Hackney Picturehouse, beginning on Friday September 21 with encore screenings of Not Suitable for Children and Toomelah, whilst Saturday brings two more UK premieres, the latest feature from the team behind much-loved classics The Castle and The Dish, Any Questions for Ben?, and Craig Lahiff’s twisting outback noir Swerve, featuring rising stars Jason Clarke and Emma Booth. The inaugural festival draws to a close on Sunday September 23 with a repeat showing of The Eye of the Storm and an encore cinema performance of Daniel Nettheim’s recently released feature debut, The Hunter, starring Willem Defoe and Frances O’Connor, and adapted from a novel by Julia Leigh (Sleeping Beauty).

If those descriptions aren’t enough to whet your appetite, stay tuned to The Far Paradise in the coming week as we present our top five reasons to see each film at this years festival. The ‘5 Reasons’ coverage kicks off with opening night films Not Suitable for Children and A Few Best Men.

Don’t forget to visit the FFA website for the latest news and updates, sign up to their email list for discounted tickets, ‘like’ them on Facebook, ‘follow’ them on Twitter, or watch the spiffing trailer for FilmFest Australia 2012 right here:

Australian Season in Norwich

Australian Season at Cinema City, Norwich

London may get the lion’s share of Australian film screenings in the UK, but cinemagoers in Norwich are getting a taste of Down Under this summer, with Cinema City hosting a mini celebration of recent Australian flicks to coincide with the UK release of Daniel Nettheim’s excellent The Hunter (2011). Cinema City’s Australian season kicked off on Friday with a late night screening of that most influential of cult classics, Mad Max (George Miller, 1979), and continues throughout the rest of the month with some of the best Australian films of recent years:

Monday July 16, 8:30pm: The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)

Having previously worked together on Ghosts…of the Civil Dead (1988), filmmaker John Hillcoat and rock legend (and occasional scriptwriter) Nick Cave reunited almost a decade later for this grim Australian western, in which the civilizing Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) attempts to eradicate a gang of outlaws by pitting two of the notorious Burns brothers (Guy Pearce and Danny Huston) against each other.

Monday July 23, 8:45pm: Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011)

One of the best films of 2011 – from anywhere in the world – relates the gripping tale of Jamie (Lucas Pittaway), a young man sucked into the inner circle of one of Australia’s most notorious serial killers, John Bunting (played to electrifying effect by Daniel Henshall). It’s a tough, tense watch, but also a truly exceptional piece of cinema.

Monday July 30, 8:45pm: Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)

Emerging like a bolt from the blue in 2009, Warwick Thornton’s intensely moving ‘survival love story’ premiered at Cannes, where it won the prestigious Camera d’Or for debut feature. Following the difficult lives of its eponymous duo as they struggle with life on (and off) an Aboriginal settlement outside Alice Springs, the film stood as a quiet, contemplative and resolutely a-political response to centuries of indigenous mistreatment that culminated in the notorious policy of ‘intervention’.

So there we have it, three fantastic examples of recent Australian cinema, each ripe for revisiting or a first watch. Full details and tickets for the Australian season are available on the Cinema City website. The Hunter continues to screen daily until July 19.