All posts by Ben Apfelbaum

My photography began when my father handed me the proverbial brownie box camera as a child. As cameras developed I went through Fujica and Olympus range finders graduating to my first single lens reflex camera, the Minolta SRT101, the latter being the greatest facilitator to my growth as a photographer. Digital photography has only added to this. I was a regular contributor to Camera Craft magazine (Australian Camera ) for over three years. During Australia’s Bicentennial year (1988) I made it a personal project to document the celebrations. This culminated in the creation of a book of my photos which was published in 1989. The book was called CELEBRATING AUSTRALIA and came with an accompanying calendar. My works have appeared in a number of publications including the coffee book entitled MY AUSTRALIA (1989), publisher Robertsbridge Severn. This book had a preface by the then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke. I was a co-photographer on a book entitled SYDNEY- DISCOVER THE CITY with text written by Robert Treborland. Major Mitchell Press was the publisher. Also for two years I was the photographer for calendars celebrating Sydney’s multicultural communities. The two calendars were entitled MULTICULTURAL SYDNEY. My work appeared in a group exhibition held at Sydney’s Town Hall pertaining to the diversity of life in South America to raise money for orphanages there. I have over one hundred photos stored in the New South Wales State Library archive. I had a solo exhibition held in 2007 entitled Ben’s Lens at the Sydney Jewish Museum which celebrated the vibrancy of the Sydney Jewish community. Some of these photos are on the Museum’s permanent display. I have exhibited internationally firstly at the Spruill Gallery in Atlanta Georgia, united states, and in an exhibition entitled Kosher and Co at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Currently I am a regular contributor to J-Wire and this esteemed publication.


Like the Arias where one artist dominated, one film swept all before it. HACKSAW RIDGE won ten awards including best Director for Mel Gibson, Best Actor Andrew Garfield, and Best Supporting Actor Hugo Weaving.

Odessa Young, who starred in the film The Daughter, directed by Simon Stone, bucked the trend by being one of the youngest actors to win the  Best Actress Award.

The television awards had a mixed bunch of winners. Among the winners were Wentworth for Best Drama Series, The Kettering Incident for Best Mini Series, Upper Middle Bogan for Best Television Comedy Series, and Master Chef Australia for Best Reality Television series.

Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama was won  by Samuel Johnson for Molly, Best Supporting Actor in a Television Drama went to Damon Herriman for Secret City, whilst Best Actress in a Television Drama was won by Elizabeth Debicki for The Kettering Incident, and Best Supporting Actress went to the usually comedic Celia Pacquola for The Beautiful Lie.

The Longford Lyell Award for a Lifetime Achievement in Film and Television went to Paul Hogan.

The Trailblazer Award, created to highlight an individual’s achievements, abilities and successes as an inspiration to all invested in screen,went to Isla Fisher.

The Byron Kennedy Award for Film and Television Innovation went to Lynette Wallworth.



The Sydney premiere of RED DOG: TRUE BLUE, directed by Kriv Stenders, took place recently at Event cinemas in George  Street with many of its stars in attendance. The biggest star of all was Phoenix, the Red Dog. Unfortunately, the original Red Dog, Koko, died of congestive heart failure in 2012.

This film is a prequel to the original film and shows the relationship of a young boy with the young dog who later grows up to be a real life legend.

The film first premiered in Karatha, Western Australia, the movie’s locale, and Phoenix’s performance  at the AACTA’s Red Carpet did not phase him.

Phoenix is in fact the younger cousin of Koko. When producer Nelson Woss was asked to compare the personalities of the two dogs he stated that Koko was a pure ham, lapping up all the attention whereas Phoenix was a consummate professional.

RED DOG:TRUE BLUE opens in  cinemas on Boxing Day.



Eastern Sydney’s very active Waverley Library recently featured an impressive double header.

Upstairs, in the theatrette, Jennifer H Crane spoke about her book Our Lady Of The Fence Post.

In June 2003 an  apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared at  the headland south of Coogee Beach. No fewer than three academic papers have delved into the apparition. Two of them found a link between the sighting of the Virgin Mary and the death of a number of local rugby players at the Sari Club in Bali which was bombed in October 2002. Unfortunately, shortly after the sighting, the fence at Dolphin’s Reserve was  vandalised and the apparition was no more. Continue reading WAVERLEY LIBRARY LITERARY DOUBLE HEADER


This is apparently the most expensive cable television series ever produced. If you loved The Queen and the live screening of the National Theatre’s production of The Audience also starring Helen Mirren as the Queen, you will adore this series as they were all written by Peter Morgan.

This lavish Netflix original drama chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth 11 from the 1940s to 1956 in this first series of ten episodes. The second series is currently being produced but subsequent series will have new sets of actors as the Queen and Prince Phillip age.

The series begins with an inside look at the early reign of the Queen who ascended the throne when she was 25. Continue reading THE CROWN


Actress Amy Adams is having a bumper year with two films coming out in December/January  where she has the principal role –  Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals.   

Twelve mysterious monoliths land in twelve different locations around the world emitting strange sounds. Are they friend or foe?

Referencing Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Amy Adams as linguist Louise Banks and Jeremy Renner as scientist Ian Donnelly are recruited by Forrest Whittaker  as Colonel Weber to decipher  the intention of the octopus like heptapods who inhabit the monolith which has landed in Wyoming. Continue reading THE ARRIVAL


The quirky Camelot Lounge, owned by Monsieur Camembert’s Yaron Hallas, was the venue for this ‘unknown’ group. Whenever I hear of Australia’s most forgotten impressionist I always know that it is John Russell because he is mentioned as such so I can’t forget it.

This wonderful group formed in 2001 has a cult like following. Despite playing for fifteen years and having won overseas singing competitions, this group is truly forgotten and unknown to the general public. In a men’s shed like fashion it brought together a bunch of guys from all walks of life who lived in the Blue Mountains area. As time evolved some of the group moved from the Blue Mountains to Canberra with its leader and chief composer Stephen Taberner moving to Melbourne. Continue reading A SPOOKY NIGHT WAS LOVED BY ALL @ THE CAMELOT LOUNGE


Those who are privileged to see Pinchgut opera’s current production of Handel’s Theodora are in for a treat. It is, I believe faultless in every aspect.

This opera, dated 1749, Handel considered his masterpiece even though it was a commercial failure.With a libretto by Thomas Morell, it concerns the suffering of Christian martyr, Theodora, at the hands of idol worshipping Roman president Valens in 4th century Antioch and is full of beautiful chorus work and some sublime arias.

Theodora, sung by Valda Wilson, Irene, sung by Caitlin Hulcup and Didymus sung by American counter tenor Christopher Lowrey,  all did full justice to this magnificent work, with convincing, passionate performances and superb vocal work. I thought Valda Wilson’s performance was perfect, being both a joy to listen to as well as being gorgeous to watch. ‘O thou bright sun’, her aria of despair as she faces rape and prostitution, was very moving and her final duet with Christopher Lowrey sung as their characters ascended to heaven, took the audience to heavenly spaces with them!

Caitlin Hulcup’s warm velvety mezzo soprano voice was also one of the highlights of the evening. There was a deep humanity to all the principals’ performances that moved me deeply. Continue reading PINCHGUT OPERA EXCELS AGAIN WITH HANDEL’S THEODORA @ RECITAL HALL


After receiving their Awards several of the winners made themselves available for photographs and interviews. The following artists attending the Media Room were Best Group and Rock Album – Violent Soho, Breakthrough Artist – Montaigne, Best Urban Album – Drapht, Best Adult Contemporary Album – Bernard Fanning, Best Adult Alternative Album – Sarah Blasko, Best Country Album – Sara Storer, Best Children’s Album – The Wiggles, Best Video and Apple Music Song Of The Year – Troye Sivan, Best Australian Live Act – The Hilltop Hoods, Best Blues and Roots Album – Russell Morris, Best Album, Best Male Artist, Best Dance Release, Best Pop Release and Best Independent Release – Flume. Hall of Fame Inductees- Crowded House.

Featured image – Flume. All images by Ben Apfelbaum(c)..


King Abdullah and Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan made a quick visit to Sydney, such that they did not even have time to do the obligatory trip on Sydney Harbour.

However, they did have lovely views of the Harbour from Government House where prior to a formal lunch they inspected its gardens whose flowers were in full bloom, accompanied by Governor David and  Mrs Linda Hurley.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).


Whether Mark Tedeschi, AM, QC, the State’s Senior Crown Prosecutor, intended this or not, he has written a trilogy of three legal cases each from a different point of view. In EUGENIA, the central subject, Eugenia Falleni, is a murderer, though some simplicity is elicited, KIDNAPPED whose main subject is Graeme Thorne, the kidnap victim, and now his latest  book MURDER AT MYALL CREEK where a courageous colonial Attorney General and the legal system itself is put on trial.

In 1838, 11 convicts and former convicts were put on trial for the brutal murder of 28  indigenous men, women and children at Myall Creek in  Northern New South Wales. Controversial for the colonial era this was the first time Europeans were charged with the murder of indigenous people who were ranked lower than sheep and cattle in the eyes of the law. It would become one of the most serious trials of mass murder in Australia’s history. Continue reading BOOK LAUNCH : MARK TEDESCHI’S ‘MURDER AT MYALL CREEK’


The Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the Armistice. After World War 2 the Australian Government agreed to the United Kingdom’s proposal that Armistice Day be renamed Remembrance Day to commemorate those who were killed in both World Wars.Today the loss of Australian lives from all wars and conflicts is commemorated on Remembrance Day and continues to be commemorated in Allied Countries.

The time honoured proceedings took place at the Cenotaph in Martin Place. Lt Colonel John Moore was the Master Of Ceremonies for the Order of Service.

After the Royal Australian Navy’s Band’s Vice Regal Salute, the 2016 Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholars Mr Nikita Papastamatis and Ms Amber Frost read ‘In Flanders Fields’, a poem by John McGrath, composed in 1915. Continue reading REMEMBRANCE DAY 2016 – THE CENOTAPH MARTIN PLACE, SYDNEY


‘Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy’ is one of the Ten Commandments, the cornerstone of the Jewish Faith. The 5th Commandment is largely ignored  by secular Jews. An initiative, commenced in South Africa in 2015, sought to involve these secular Jews in a modern and mass media way. Since then, globally, it has spread to an amazing 1,150 cities across 94 countries with over 1,000,000 participants. The Shabbat Project in Sydney gathered together 39 communal organisations which initiated over 85 events reaching nearly 15,000 people.

At Bondi Beach over 500 people gathered together on the sand to participate in music, dance and  prayer. The service was presided over by Rabbi Benji Levy, Head of Studies at Moriah College, as the sun set over the lapping waves, joyous singing and dancing.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).


Some of Sydney’s most popular murals are located  in Newtown, Enmore or Ashfield but the trick is to find them, and some are quite a distance apart.

However, if you want to see a selection of colourful, eye popping murals in the one place, head to the Bondi Beach promenade.

Periodically, the street art on show is given a ‘fresh coat of paint’. It appears that this has occurred recently with a collection of new murals. The only mural that has been retained is a memorial to Chloe, as evidenced by its fading paint.

So the only place in Sydney where you can both have a great coffee, at one of the many excellent cafes in Campbell Street and a dip in the ocean, together with a dose of art in the fresh air, is iconic Bondi Beach.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).


One of the longest red carpets (rainbow coloured in fact) was installed in front of the Hoyts Entertainment Quarter to accommodate, along its sides, a multitude of fans who adore Justin Timberlake.

As well as voicing one of the leads Timberlake also served as the film’s Executive Music Producer, the soundtrack of which features four original songs including songs by Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Anna Kendrick, and Ariana Granda.

Other cast members include Russell Brand, Zooey Deschanel, Christine Baranski, James Corden, and John Cleese. Our own  Dami Im is the voice of Grandma Rosiepuff.

Justin Timberlake seemed relaxed and happy  to meet his fans posing patiently for selfies and signing autographs.

TROLLS opens in cinemas on December 1.

All images copyright Ben Apfelbaum.


The Sydney Chamber Choir launched its 2017 season at an inner city function. Founded in 1975, the Choir has forged a reputation as one of Australia’s leading choral ensembles. 

Highly regarded for its interpretation of Renaissance and Baroque works, it is also a champion of contemporary Australian choral music, having commissioned and premiered scores of works by many established and emerging Australian composers.

In 2017 the Choir will be singing music by Hildegard von Bingen, Monteverdi, Buxtehude, Purcell, Bach, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruckner, Schoenberg, Britten and others. Cantatas, opera, lyric scenes and chant will be heard resounding throughout the Great Hall at the University of Sydney, a  perfect venue for this remarkable ensemble of musicians to display their talents.

As is the  Sydney Chamber Choir’s tradition most of the soloists will come from  the Choir. However Richard Butler will sing the role of St Nicolas in the eponymous Britten cantata. The N.S.W Public Schools senior singers, under the direction of Elizabeth Scott, will join  Richard Butler and the Choir in this work.



The stars of the Westfield W-League gathered in Sydney on the last day of October  to launch the 2016/17 season of the Westfield W-League.

One local and one international star from each club were on hand to kick-start the new season under the tagline ‘Be Real Be Remarkable’.

A host of Westfield Matildas stars were present including Brisbane Roar’s Clare Polkinghorne, Canberra’s Michelle Heyman, Melbourne City’s Steph Catley, Perth Glory’s Sam Kerr, Sydney FC’s Kyah Simon and Alanna Kennedy, as well Western Sydney Wanderers captain Caitlin Cooper.

“I’m sure the players will take the game to new heights in the 2016/17 season of the Westfield W-League,” said Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop.

“This season we will have 19 double-headers along with the Hyundai A-League, with 14 of them on air.

“So Be Real, Be Remarkable, and get out there and support the Westfield W-League.”

The season will conclude with the Grand Final on Sunday 12 February 2017.

FOX SPORTS and ABC Television will broadcast 14 matches throughout the regular season as well as every match in the 2017 Finals Series.

This article was originally published at:

Image by Ben Apfelbaum.


The greatest Australian cyclist of all time Cadel Evans attended a book signing event at Dymocks Sydney city store on 15th November.

Famous in the sport for his meticulous preparation and an athlete who prided himself on his ability to ‘leave it all on the road’, Evans writes about the triumphs, the frustrations, the training, the preparation, the psychology of the sport, his contemporaries, the legends, and his enduring love of the beauty of cycling. Continue reading CADEL EVANS : THE ART OF CYCLING


Sydney loves to host royalty and foreign dignitaries. On Thursday 3rd November King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands enjoyed a sparkling day packed with events for them to attend.

In the morning the Dutch Royal couple had a private business meeting with the Netherlands  Foreign Investment Agency that aims to assist companies that want to invest in the Netherlands.

After paying a courtesy call on the State Governor David Hurley and his wife Linda at Government House the King and Queen then paid a visit to the University of Sydney. There the Royal couple was welcomed by University Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson and met with Australian students who have been studying in the Netherlands and Dutch students currently studying in Australia. Continue reading DUTCH KING AND QUEEN VISIT SYDNEY


A portion of Dymocks lost its persona as a bookstore when it became a kitchen for this television celebrity cook. Two hot plates and an array of spices were set up to facilitate Ms Pulley’s demonstration in the making of a delicious soup and condiment flavoured chicken thighs.

There was a large crowd eager to taste the results of her cooking demonstration.

Its purpose was to launch her new cookbook FALLING IN LOVE WITH FOOD. With each signed copy Ms Pulley presented the purchaser with a free bottle of extra virgin oil in order to facilitate her recipes.

Also present to view the launch was her proud father and stepmother.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).


Carriageworks and the City of Sydney are presenting Heard. Syd by US artist Nick Cave, marking the first time the renowned artist has presented a major work in Australia. Presented over two days, on Thursday 10 November and Saturday 12 November, Heard.Syd features over 60 Sydney based dancers and brings to life 30 colourful life sized horse suits – performed across two locations in Sydney’s CBD and Carriageworks.

Set to live Polynesian percussive rhythms Heard.Syd will impact on Sydneysiders with an exuberant and surreal explosion of equestrian activities. The life-sized horse suits are constructed from coloured raffia and found materials.

Over sixty Sydney based dancers and musicians have had the unique opportunity of working directly with Nick Cave and American choreographers Will Gill and Bob Faust to stage the project.

Encouraging an almost pastoral dream-like state, Heard.Syd is an escapist response to the bustle of the city.

The show is being presented free to Sydney audiences on this Thursday 10 November at 5 pm at Pitt Street Mall, and Saturday 12 November 10 am and 12 noon at Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Redfern.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).



DARK DIAMOND (also known as Dark Inclusion), directed by Arthur Harari, is set against the backdrop of Antwerp’s diamond industry. It purports to be a cinema noir thriller.

This is basically a revenge film where a young petty criminal seeks revenge on his jewish diamond dealer Uncle for abandoning his late father. It is also a study in the dysfunctionality of the Uncle’s family.

Niels Schneider plays the lead role of Pier who in order to find a way to exact this vengeance slowly works his way into his Uncle Joseph’s (Hans-Peter Cloos) family. Uncle Joseph has a conflicted relationship with his son Gabby (August Diehl). Throw Gabi’s attractive wife Louise (Raphaele Godin) into the mix and there are plenty of family distractions to possibly divert Pier from carrying out his revenge. Obviously with Diamonds there is the inevitable plot to rob some. Continue reading DARK DIAMOND : PART OF THIS YEAR’S JIFF FESTIVAL


Over the years I have enjoyed both the Israeli and Jewish Film Festivals and I have never seen a bad Argentinian film. That optimistic critique hit a brick wall after viewing this film.

THE TENTH MAN tells the story of Ariel (Alan Sabbagh) an Argentinian economist, He is returning to his hometown Buenos Aires to introduce his dancer girlfriend to his father. She is supposed to follow Ariel a few days after his New York departure. Before he even leaves New York his father Ashek is making requests of Ariel on behalf of his friends. Upon his return to Once, the Jewish district of Buenos Aires, the requests multiply alarmingly. Ashek is a macher, a big shot in the district. He is like the Godfather but without the criminality and menace. He distributes food and pharmaceuticals to the impoverished jews of the ghetto who have a misguided sense of entitlement. Ariel is hoping to reconnect with his father who conveys his request by mobile phone leading Ariel to meet all sorts of eccentrics and misfits. All this is conducted in schmaltziness. This sounds charming and the publicity describes this is a Valentine by Burman to the district in which he was raised. Continue reading THE TENTH MAN : PART OF THIS YEAR’S JIFF FESTIVAL


The 2017 Festival features 150 events, almost half of which are free. The Festival’s program was recently unveiled by Wesley Enoch, the Festival’s new and first indigenous Artistic Director at the State Theatre on 26 October 2016.

Big ticket items include UK theatre company Cheek by Jowl’s production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, staged in Russian with the Pushkin Theatre Company, and, The Beach, an installation with one million recyclable balls at the Cutaway at the Barangaroo Reserve.

The Festival will also feature performances by Nick Cave and P.J. Harvey.

Wesley Enoch’s first Festival includes an extensive program of indigenous arts. A feature event will be Bayala -LETS SPEAK SYDNEY LANGUAGE which features classes led by Darug woman Jacinta Tobin and Gadigal man Joel Davidson.

The Festival First Night at the Domain will not be held but an increased number of free events will be held in the Festival Village in Hyde Park North.

Both Symphony Under The Stars and Opera Under The Stars will be held twice, once in the Domain and the second performance at Parramatta Park.

This Western Suburbs inclusion features Circus City, a program of shows, workshops and free events in Parramatta.

In Campbelltown there will be an exhibition of Deathrow paintings by convicted heroin smuggler Myuran Sukumaran who was executed in Indonesia in 2015.

The Sydney Festival runs from January 7 to 29, 2017.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).


SCULPTURE BY THE SEA is the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world and the 20th October 2016 marked its twentieth anniversary. David Handley, the Founding Director, welcomed a 104 artists from 17 countries and new members of the Decade Club Jane Gillings and Richard Tipping as well as 35 artists exhibiting for the first time. The 20th year also sees the  2000th sculpture exhibited on the Bondi coastal walk. By the end of this years event it is expected that 500,000 people will have visited it.

As a birthday present the New South Wales Government announced a tourism initiative that would bring together the sculpture collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Domain, North Sydney, and Georges Heights under the title of Sydney Harbour sculpture collection. A website is to be built in coming months showing visitors how to explore Sydney Harbour’s foreshores through the world of sculpture. Continue reading SCULPTURE BY THE SEA 2016


This Opera was composed by Alan John and  with co- librettist  Dennis Watkins has been renamed for its twentieth anniversary performance. It was first staged in 1996 and televised by ABC tv.

As part of the Handa Productions’ outdoor spectacles the Opera was performed on the Opera House steps by a dozen of Australia’s finest singers who played forty different characters. Giant screens  display historic photos of the Houses’ construction and platforms glide across the hundred metre wide steps to ensure that there are expeditious scene changes. Gerry Connolly reprises his role as the Queen who opened the Opera House.

It tells the history of the Opera House from its genesis through its troubled construction period including the Architects’ resignation, the cost blow-outs, and its opening against all odds. It also shows the behind the scenes political jostling which threatened its existence as well as the cultural milieu wherein discussions about the Opera House took place (including a backyard barbie complete with hills hoist).

However the truly unique aspect of this performance is that it is the first time Australian Opera has staged a silent Opera. The chorus and orchestra performed live in the Opera House interior whilst the soloists on the steps are miked and the combined sound transmitted to  state of the art  Audio  Technica headphones which achieved the perfect balance between vocals and orchestra. It  runs till November 5.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum.