Australian Cinema


SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES – FEBRUARY 11: Despite the heat a healthy crowd gathers to enjoy the Tropfest short film festival on February 11, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)


Tropfest Australia, supported by foundation partner CGU Insurance, today unveiled plans for TropNest, a groundbreaking creative hub for filmmaking, collaboration, workshops, screenings and events in Western Sydney, thanks to a new partnership with Melrose Park urban developers – PAYCE.

Young emerging filmmakers from around Australia will be invited to apply for a limited number of spaces at the Nest, where they will work rent free — with no strings attached — on their film and television projects.




Cheaters always cheat, so can trust be restored?

ZELOS is the perfect title, for this Australian indie feature movie film, as the word in Greek has the meaning of ZEAL and PASSION, but also of JEALOUSY and SUSPICION.

The nature of  freedom versus responsibility in relationships is explored, during this different and intriguing story of  two successful thirty-somethings, Bernard (Ben Mortley:- Lantana, McLeod’s Daughters, Drift, Foreshadow, Pinch) and Sarah (Shannon Ashlyn:- Wolf Creek 2, Love Child, Dripping in Chocolate, Puberty Blues, Devil’s Dust).

ZELOS takes a bold and brave path that shows precisely how both Bernard and Sarah cope, from the announcement of her affair whilst overseas on holiday without Bernard.

With the notion of salvaging their relationship, and in a bid to restore his trust, Sarah insists that Bernard sleep with another woman to even the score.

What could possibly go wrong?! Whole levels of their relationship immediately take on a very different dynamic, fuelled by Bernard’s constant questions and jealousy.

ZELOS is fast paced entertainment, with the perfect cast of Sydney based actors. The movie is  a film helmed predominantly by women, including director, co-producers, writer, cinematographer, editor and female-dominated crew.                 Continue reading ZELOS : LOCAL INDI FILMMAKING AT ITS BOLDEST


Featured image – Maha Wilson, Helena Sawires, Osamah Sami, Frances Duca. All Photos by Ben Apfelbaum.

ALI’S WEDDING was chosen to be the opening night film of AACTA’s Festival of Australian Film.

The film was the winner of Foxtel Movies Audience Award at the 2017 Sydney Film Festival and the Age Critic’s Award at the 2017 Melbourne International Film Festival. The film was chosen to be the opening night film of AACTA’s Festival of Australian Film.

After a ‘white lie’ which spirals out of control a neurotic, naive and musically gifted Muslim cleric’s eldest son must follow through with an arranged marriage. The only problem is that he is madly in love with an Australian born Lebanese girl.

The film has been directed by Jeffrey Walker and features a fine cast including Osamah Sami, Helena Sawires, Maha Wilson and Frances Duca.

An affectionate and entertaining story of love and duty ALI’S WEDDING opened nationally on 31st August.



DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM is the warts and all, no holds barred story of groundbreaking Sydney band Radio Birdman.
Written, directed, edited and co-produced by filmmaker Jonathan J Sequeira, the documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the band – from the vibrant music scene they created, to the legions of bands they influenced in their wake.

The ascent into the maelstrom began in 1974 at a house in Kensington, where band members met up and decided to play together. Two of them, Deniz Tek and Pip Hoyle, were med students.

From their first gig at the Exelsior Hotel IN 1974, where the quintet outnumbered the audience, through to 1978, Radio Birdman’s uncompromising, high-energy ethos inspired a ‘New Race’ of disaffected youth, ready for a change, while their DIY attitude and self-released records were the prototype for the indie music scene.

It was a fraught four years with break -ups and bust-ups fuelled by a brutal combustibility, somewhat a Catch 22 as this unstable chemistry created the explosive energy of the band’s music and persona.

Radio Birdman’s volatility as a unit came to a head on their UK tour, where emotionally and economically stressed, their touring vehicle, a Kombi, became known as the van of hate. Continue reading DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM : THE STORY OF RADIO BIRDMAN


It looks a million dollars but THAT’S NOT ME cost a mere $60,000.

THAT’S NOT ME begins with the picture’s protagonist, Polly, sitting on the toilet clutching an air freshener and delivering an Oscar acceptance speech.

Polly is an aspiring actress, the twin sister of another aspiring actress, Amy. She is a serious minded thespian, biding her time for a shot at stardom working at a cinema selling tickets, popcorn and choc-tops.

When her agent suggests her for a role in the popular soap, Summer Street, she baulks at the idea of playing an albino, perceiving whitening up as repugnant as blacking up.

Amy takes the gig instead, is a success, lands a role in an HBO show and starts dating Jared Leto.

A disastrous trip to LA does little to help matters, but the unbearable situation becomes a little better when Polly discovers that she can use her sister’s celebrity to her advantage to get free clothes, free booze and casual sex.

There’s not a dud note in THAT’S NOT ME thanks to a solid foundation in a script by Alice Foulcher and Gregory Erdstein, and anchored by a winning lead performance by Foulcher and Helmed with an assured hand by Erdstein.

The support casting is impeccable with a mix of the well known and the unknown. Andrew S. Gilbert and Catherine Hill are perfect as Polly’s parents and Isabel Lucas is ferociously good as Polly’s drama school pal, Zoe, who has transplanted to Hollywood and deliciously pays out on the studio who has dissed her.

Andrew O’Keeffe serves up a sparkling cameo as a soap star and the director, Gregory Erdstein sends the self important director caricature into cauterised comic cuts.

Cinematography by Shelley Farthing-Dawe is first class as is the rich production design of Sally Addinsall.

What could have been cheesy has been kept bright and breezy in this very funny film of awkward ambition, shallow celebrity, sibling rivalry and playing the real.


THAT’S NOT ME plays Sydney Film Festival Saturday June 10 6.30 pm at Event George, and Sunday June 11 8.30 pm at The Ritz, Randwick, and Monday June 12, 6.30 pm at the Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne.


Above : Jack Thompson plays the silkiest of silks, Bob Myers. Featured photo- Sara West plays the gutsy main character, Lyndel.

DON’T TELL is the kind of film that makes audiences “do tell” and strong word of mouth should launch this splendid court room drama into the box office success it so richly deserves.

Sara West is superb as Lyndal, a young woman at crisis point, desperate to be heard and needing to be believed. A decade ago, she was sexually abused by a teacher at a school run by the Anglican Church.

The vile experience together with the bottled up anger, guilt, and fear has derailed a life on track for a stable and productive life.

After ten years of troubled existence, Lyndal must tell of her experience, must publicly dispel her appalling sentence of silence to have any semblance of a normal life. Continue reading DON’T TELL : A BRILLIANT NEW AUSTRALIAN FILM


Australia is certainly at the arts end of the world, put on the global creative cartography by Brett Whiteley, and James Bogle’s brilliant documentary is completely deserving of Brett’s talent. WHITELEY may well be the best Australian film of the year.

Writer/director James Bogle and co writer, Victor Gentile, have fashioned a fine feature film from Whiteley’s own voice, and the voices of his muse and ex wife, Wendy, either captured on archival footage or recreated from notebooks and interviews over four decades.

Like most artists, this larrikin painter subordinated his life to the overwhelming needs of his art. It is a selfishness, but a selfishness that creates great and enduring art.

Infused with Whiteley’s art, the film is assuredly and undeniably a work of art in itself, as it seeks to fathom the mysteries and intrigue of genius, the confusions and contradictions of this sensitive, selfish man with a soaring talent. Continue reading WHITELEY : A BRILLIANT DOCO ON ONE OF OUR GREATEST ARTISTS


A matriarch with a Messiah complex, Anne Hamilton-Byrne was a glamorous yoga teacher whose charismatic aura amassed a cult following and spawned a surrogate family of illegally sourced children, under the auspices of The Santiniketan Park Association.

Rosie Jones’ documentary, THE FAMILY, is an investigation into the cult and the dogged detective work of policeman, Lex De Man, longest serving member of Operation Forest, which sought to prosecute Hamilton-Byrne.

Altogether 28 children spent time under the strict regime of Anne, self proclaimed reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and The Aunties, Anne’s apostles, disciples in strict and restrictive discipline; a core group of 14 believed they were Anne and her husband Bill’s biological children and bore the Hamilton-Byrne name. Continue reading THE FAMILY : A NEW DOCUMENTARY BY ROSIE JONES


If you think the Sydney lock out laws are Draconian, consider the Queensland State Government’s Alcohol Management Plan affecting the town of Doomadgee – a first offence penalty for possessing a full strength alcoholic beverage is a fine of $44,175 or incarceration if unable to pay.

Imagine that imposition to the beer swilling burgers of Sydney. The weekend paralytic would be apoplectic, yet this appalling apartheid prohibition is levelled at the indigenous inhabitants, further pathetic paternalism by a white society.

Back in 1930, white Christian missionaries thrashed indigenous culture out of the locals, now there is a concentrated effort to claw it back. Out of a population of a thousand, there were fourteen suicides in twelve months, due partly to alcohol and drugs which is part of the problem of dissociation that prevails in these communities. Continue reading ZACH’S CEREMONY : A NEW FILM BY AARON PETERSEN


What a cast!

Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Sam Neil, Judy Davis, Jackie Weaver, Rachel Griffiths, Geoffrey Rush, Bryan Brown and Eric Bana. To name a few. That’s the incredible line-up amassed for DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE.

A film critic can sometimes unearth an audience for a film that does not have the vast advertising techniques and budget that ensures a mass audience for a major movie, usually from a studio in Hollywood.

Such an excavator is David Stratton whose exuberance for the wide exhibition of quality films, especially those made in Australia, is extolled in this brilliant exultation of local films, DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE. Continue reading DAVID STRATTON : A CINEMATIC LIFE


JASPER JONES is a gem.

JASPER JONES is based on the best-selling Australian novel by Craig Silvey. The novel has received broad critical acclaim and commercial success including being short-listed for the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2011 and short-listed for the Australian Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2010.

Pic opens with schoolmates Charlie and Jeffrey debating the attributes of the super hero, and how Spiderman is an urban superhero who would be out of his comfort zone in their small, rural town.

For Jeffrey Superman and Spiderman are the supreme embodiment of a superhero, but for Charley it’s Batman, whose super power is not supernatural like the kid from Krypton, but courage like the caped crusader.

Courage is at the forefront of JASPER JONES, and author Craig Silvey has courageously adapted his novel with Snowtown scribe, Shaun Grant.

Idle banter about bantering idols and childish choices like “Would you rather wear a hat made of spiders or have a hand with fingers replaced by penises?”, give way to more pressing matters when Charlie answers a midnight summons from town outcast, Jasper Jones.

Charlie accompanies Jasper to a billabong where the body of a 16-year-old girl, Laura Wishart, hangs from an eucalypti tree. She was Jasper’s girlfriend, his only friend, and now she is dead. Charlie immediately wants to contact the police but Jasper is adamant that they cannot, as he will be blamed because he is Aboriginal and explains that he already knows who is the killer; it’s Mad Jack Lionel, the town recluse and former abattoir worker who is rumoured to have slaughtered a woman several years ago. Continue reading JASPER JONES


Deserving of a lion’s share of both box office booty and award adulation, LION is a raw and roaring tale of loss and recovery across two continents and twenty five years.

Saroo is a five year old scamp living with his mother and older brother in a rural village of India. One day, he accompanies his brother in search of work in a town quite a journey from his village.

Travel tired, he is told to rest and not to move at the railway station. Searching for a comfortable cocoon in which to slumber, Saroo cradles inside a carriage. On wakening, he finds himself on a train destination unknown, and not knowing how long or how far he has travelled.

The traverse seems as big as the universe and he is delivered to a big city, time and distance unbeknown to the little tacker. Lost, bewildered, traumatised, he has a string of misadventures before finding himself in an orphanage and finally into the safe haven of adoptive parents.

The trans sub continental train ride seems infinitesimal compared to his final destination, the great Australian footnote state of Tasmania.

And so Saroo grows into adulthood under the adoring care of mother and father and saddled with another Indian orphan as surrogate sibling.

Torn between his devotion to his adoptive parents and a desire to reunite with his biological family, he decides to delve into a bit of detective work to position his present with his past.

The first great Australian film of the year, LION has a pride of talent before and behind the camera. Continue reading LION


The opening shot of THE MENKOFF METHOD features a Melbourne tram.

Thirty years ago, director David Parker made Malcolm, a landmark Australian film about a Melbourne tram driver, so the expectation that this new film of his would be as wonderful and quirky seemed to be telegraphed with this establishing shot.
Not so.

THE MENKOFF METHOD is quirky, but comes nowhere near a coo-ee of Malcolm when it comes to comedy or heart. Continue reading THE MENKOFF METHOD


In advance of the pictures cinema release on December 1, this is going to be the only Sydney Q and A must see screening of THE LEGEND OF  BEN HALL at the Palace Chauvel cinema in Paddington.

Seats are limited, so it is best to buy them onlineto avoid disappointment.


Saturday 19 November 2016 at 10 am @ Chauvel cinema, Paddington.

For more about The Legend of Ben Hall Screening, visit
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Sophie Dan plays Anya in RED BILLABONG.
Sophie Dan plays Anya in RED BILLABONG.

As if sharks, snakes and spiders weren’t enough to make Australia a dangerous place to live, the legend of the bunyip brought turgidly to life in RED BILLABONG makes the continent downright uninhabitable.

This cannibalised creature feature stolen from Dreamtime mythology plays like an episode of Home and Away with creaky dialogue, pat characterisation, and generic cliché.

In the pre title sequence, Col Elliott, the blue comedian, plays Grandpa, a crypto zoologist. No laughs, which for a comedian, is death, and so Grandpa is dispatched.

He had the good grace to leave his property to the local indigenous people, but his grandsons are the executors of his estate and an American realtor is keen to buy the country. Continue reading RED BILLABONG



The Student with the Red Rose
The Student with the Red Rose

In 2010, acclaimed artist Del Kathryn Barton and renown filmmaker Brendan Fletcher had a casual conversation about working Barton’s series of Oscar Wilde inspired artworks into a short film.

Six years later, Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose, was born.

Currently showing at ACMI, the 14-minute adaption of Wilde’s tale of the same title is now open to the public.

The film took three years to produce with Barton and Fletcher working closely with award-winning post-production house, Method Studios. The team used a mix of handmade props and post-production animation techniques to meticulously craft the piece.

What they have created is an intense and beautiful rendition of Wilde’s original, featuring a chilling score by Sarah Blasko and the voices of some of Australia’s most celebrated actors including Geoffrey Rush and Mia Wasikowska. Continue reading OSCAR WILDE’S THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE


Natasha Lawrence, Sascha Ettinger Epstein (director), Kylene Anderson, Jenny Neighbour (producer).
Natasha Lawrence, Sascha Ettinger Epstein (director), Kylene Anderson, Jenny Neighbour (producer).

Natasha Lawrence and Kylene Anderson are two indigenous women who have a dream to make it to the Arnolds – an amateur bodybuilding competition being held in Australia for the first time.

The determined women struggle with diets, exercises and inner demons in their roller coaster efforts to achieve their Arnie inspired goal.

Director Sascha Epstein is building quite a portfolio of work.. Her documentary Painting With Light In A Dark World screened at Sydney Film Festival 2003. Other films include Playing In The Shadows which screened at the SFF in 2008 and Change of Heart which screened in SFF in 2005.
Director Sascha Epstein is building quite a portfolio of work.. Her documentary Painting With Light In A Dark World screened at Sydney Film Festival (SFF) 2003. Other films include Playing In The Shadows which screened at the SFF in 2008 and Change of Heart which screened in SFF in 2005.

Filmmaker Sascha Ettinger Epstein filmed the Sydney duo over two years, making for a warm, affecting and entertaining documentary.




Is this the real world, or is this just fantasy?

In Martin McKenna’s Melbourne based independently produced feature film, IS THIS THE REAL WORLD?, his protagonist doesn’t think much of the real world, a sphere of compromise, chaos, and anything but carefree’.

Mark Blazey, skateboard iconoclast in his first year at a new school, is caught in the landslide of life, between ailing grandma, struggling single mum and jailbird delinquent older brother. His escape from reality is is doing what most teenage boys do. Stack on the surly. Continue reading IS THIS THE REAL WORLD?


La Paglia2In the past month of Sundays, audiences have been treated to a couple of terrific local films. Now a third joins the ranks, A MONTH OF SUNDAYS, starring Anthony LaPaglia and John Clarke, and written and directed by Matthew Saville.

There’s no dearth of diversity nor harking back to brilliant gumtrees in these films, Broke shot in Gladstone, Queensland, Pawno in Footscray, Victoria, and now A MONTH OF SUNDAYS showing the photogenic-osity of Adelaide.

Death, divorce and real estate are cited as the three great stressors of the modern age.

All three are visited on Frank Mollard, an addled Adelaide real estate agent coping with the loss of his mother and the collapse of his marriage.

Mum dies, wife achieves acting fame, son goes with mum and follows in her professional footsteps, and Philip is caught in a mood of lethargy.

Luckily Frank has Philip Lang, a very understanding boss, sympathetic and superlatively supportive.

Then one night, Frank gets a phone call from his mum. Don’t worry, the picture doesn’t descend into woo woo ouija territory. It’s a wrong number but it cuts through and makes a connection in Frank’s no dial tone existence. Frank decides to redial and by connecting to Julia Blake’s Sarah, reconnects with the rest of his life.

Deliciously deadpan and lusciously laconic, La Paglia as Frank and John Clarke as Philip Lang play off each other with adroit drollery.

There is a spectacularly staged sprinkler scene, the calibration of which is comedy choreography at its finest. Laconic laughs re-tickled by reticulated water

The gorgeous Justine Clarke as Frank’s ex, Wendy, plays almost a parody of herself, an actress who becomes a soap superstar in a medical series called Major Surgery, a show that has in joke echoes of the ill fated The Surgeon that starred Clarke and was directed by Matthew Saville.

Kudos too for Gary Sweet for being such a good sport in playing himself as Wendy’s co-star in the soap. On yer, Gaz!!

Nice support too by Kylie Trounson as kindly Dr Kylie Elliot and Donal Forde as Damien, the recalcitrant and suspicious son of Sarah, whose neglectful filial duty is the catalyst of the narrative.

Julia Blakes’ Sarah grows from catalyst to conduit of changing Frank’s flatlining life in the most surprising ways.

Realtors round the country rejoice. A MONTH OF SUNDAYS shows there are property professionals who are not unctuous with the clammy calumny of commissions – some are genuine conduits for home making, not just bricks and mortar mortgage brokers.

Compare and contrast the dark side of the business in the recent American release, 99 Homes.

Matthew Saville cements the film with a fine sentiment but not to the point of sentimentality. MONTH OF SUNDAYS is the REAL estate of local film making – edifying edifice with rooms full of charm, wit and great views.


pawno- second
Director Paul Ireland who also plays a small role in his new film PAWNO.

Australian films are on a roll at the moment – Looking for Grace, The Daughter, Broke, Sherpa, A Month of Sundays and PAWNO.

PAWNO is an unassuming but highly amusing observational film set in Melbourne’s inner west where life eddies and fissures around a pawn broker shop owned and operated by world weary Les Underwood.

Les has an offsider, Danny, a young bloke who initially appears aimless and lacking in the social graces, but is a good handyman and harbours the heart of a poet. Continue reading PAWNO


Director Heath Davis, lead actor Steve Le Marquand and producer Luke Graham. Pic by Jonathon Hair
Director Heath Davis, lead actor Steve Le Marquand and producer Luke Graham. Pic by Jonathon Hair

Go for BROKE. It’s a bewdy.

Shot on a shoestring budget, BROKE is a movie that has the integrity and self worth of being brought up by its bootstraps.

Steve Le Marquand plays Ben Kelly, busted, broke down ex champion footballer, now a grifting gambler, a prince of the paddock now pauper of the padlock, prey to pawnbroker and police.

One night, flat on his back broke, boozed dull with wine cask bladder empty, Ben is picked up by Good Samaritan, Cec, and offered a feed. Ben suspects Cec of wanting sexual gratification in return. He’s a pie man not a sausage roll sucker, says he to Cec. Continue reading BROKE


Peter Andrikidis and Richard Brancatisano in Peter Andrikidis’ film ALEX AND EVE

The Australian romantic comedy ALEX AND EVE has had a relatively long life for a homegrown film.  Peter Andrikidis’ film opened in  cinemas at the end of  October and can still be caught on the big screen. The film is still screening at Palace in Norton Street.

If you are planning to make your way across to Palace’s plush Leichhardt cinema complex to see it, my advice is to go with ‘your eyes wide open’. This film charts well worn territory, and the characters are very familiar. There is, however, nothing fresh or edgy about ALEX AND EVE. It’s a kind of Smooth FM radio experience translated to a cinema experience. A plush armchair ride…if that is what you are after…

ALEX AND EVE- the film’s tagline is ‘a mismatch made in heaven’- is yet another variation on the Romeo and Juliet story.

Andrea Demetriades plays Eve, a very attractive Lebanese Muslim lawyer who meets and falls in love with Alex, played by Richard Branctisana, a handsome, charming Greek high school maths teacher. Their two families  are  vehemently opposed to their union. Adding further tension Eve’s family are in the midst of  setting Eve up in an arranged marriage to a Muslim gentleman, Mohomad, played by Hazem Shamma.

There is little joy to be found in the ‘paint by numbers’ romantic comedy narrative.  On the positive side- the film is lovely to look at. The film was shot around Sydney, and we see familiar streets in local areas such as Canterbury, Lakemba, Glebe, Haberfied, Homebush, the Rocks, Croydon, Belmore, Auburn and Leichhardt.

The performances were appealing. It was good to see a large, multi-cultural cast, with very few ‘big names’.

The dialogue- the screenplay is by Alex Lykos, adapted from  his successful 2006 play (Lykos also has a small role in the film)- flowed well, and there were plenty of witty, amusing lines.

In conclusion, the phrase ‘If only’ comes up. If only the producers had chosen not to play things so safe…to make such a pleasing, commercial film, one so obviously geared to the international market with its numerous shots of Sydney harbour, then ALEX AND EVE could have been something special.

Women He’s Undressed

Armstrong- inset
Inset pic- The poster to Gillian Armstrong’s new doco Featured pic- Orry-Kelly played by Darren Gilshenan with cocktail party guests. Pic Anne Howard

Director Gillian Armstrong claims that she had never heard of Orry-Kelly when Damien Parer pitched a documentary proposal at her.

It is hard to believe that any Australian cinefile would not have knowledge, at least of the existence of the man who designed the costumes for Casablanca, Some Like It Hot and hundreds of other Hollywood movies, but taken as truth, at least the completed film, WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED will introduce this brilliant Australian export to a wider audience.

With writer Katherine Thompson, Armstrong has fashioned a biopic facsimile, a hybrid pastiche of factual footage and stylised recreation. Continue reading Women He’s Undressed




A great new Australian crime thriller is ready for our cinemas and screening from 24 September 2015, and has an unexpected take on the motivations for committing crime.

CUT SNAKE is an incendiary noir drama, set in Melbourne  circa 1974. Merv is a man  from Sydney with a past that he wants to run away from. He has moved to country Melbourne with the intention of trying to build a new life.

Suddenly he finds himself tracked down by old friend James and is dragged back into the criminal world, where both are only known by their criminal nicknames. Continue reading CUT SNAKE

Mad Max: Fury Road

a poxy lipped now

Mythed it by that much! MAD MAX:  FURY ROAD is so full of both strident and subliminal myth legend proto, arche and stereotype that it can’t help inveigle the viewer in a dream, albeit a bad one, a nightmare of apocalyptic proportion.

Putrid patriarchy has survived and prospered in post-apocalyptic time and the warlord Immortan Joe, pustule pocked and death masked pseudo saviour of a tribe of feral followers steeped in kamikaze allegiance, keeps a harem of young women as breeders. Continue reading Mad Max: Fury Road