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→
Knocking the Who Do You Think You Are? concept out of the ring, THE PANTHER WITHIN is a winning technical and emotional knock-out of a film.
In a tag team bout of several suspenseful rounds, film-maker Edoardo Crismani and his mother Barbara embark on a search to unravel the mystery surrounding Barbara’s father Joe Murray, an indigenous boxing champion who danced and sang vaudeville, and married a blue-eyed blond white woman in 1930s Australia. Astonishing!
On the ropes as far as reliable historical documentation regarding Joe Murray, mother and son journey across the land, from Adelaide to Mildura, Melbourne and Ballarat. They trawl through libraries, meet with researchers, historians and Aboriginal elders, delving into the hidden heritage of the man known as The Black Panther, trying to piece his story together. Continue reading THE PANTHER WITHIN : A STRIKING NEW AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARY→
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→
Featured image – Director Ralph Loop at an event for the film.
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Dante
This is a fascinating, intense examination of Sandro Botticelli’s (1445- 1510) famous work that jumps from the Vatican to Florence, Berlin, London and the Scottish lowlands.
The film is directed by Ralph Loop, who also has an expert, an Italian historian who knows the city of Florence in the Renaissance period to enthusiastically narrate part of the film. As well there are interviews with the Directors of the various galleries.
As is the case every year the upcoming Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) will again be strong in the documentary category with a number of outstanding documentaries.
South African director Saxon Logan’s film SYLVIA : TRACING BLOOD is bound to attract a lot of interest. Logan’s film looks at the life and times of the late Sylvia Raphael, whom the Jerusalem Post described as Mossad’s legendary femme fatale.
The film has a gob-smacking – one can’t quite get one’s head around it – quality to it. Here was the story of a a beautiful young woman, who came from a good home, born in Cape Town, South Africa to an Afrikaner mother and a Jewish father, who was recruited by Mossad, taking over from Israeli spy Eli Cohen, following his public hanging in Damascus in My 1965, and became one of the their best and most cold and calculating spies, infiltrating the highest ranks within the Palestinian Liberation Office( (PLO). She worked for Mossad under the alias of Patricia Roxborough and assumed the role of international press photographer so that she could get easy access across borders. Continue reading SYLVIA : TRACING BLOOD→
Screening as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival this is a fascinating and informative documentary examining the life and complex works of Yvonne Rainer.
Dance fans and those interested in the history of film and performance art especially pertaining to New York artistic life from the 160’s to now will be enthralled. Feelings Are Facts is also the title of Rainer’s book published back in 2006.
Rainer- perhaps most famous for her “NO “ manifesto- is an American dancer, choreographer, writer and film maker- her work across these assorted fields is often defined as ‘Minimalist’ and regarded as challenging, experimental and confronting, and seen as pushing the boundaries of what can be defined as Art.
Over the course of her career, Rainer has choreographed over forty works. She is perceived as having revolutionised modern dance, created what later became known as performance art, and changed the basic principles of experimental filmmaking- all during a time when women were largely ignored in the art world. Continue reading FEELINGS ARE FACTS: THE LIFE OF YVONNE RAINER→
Rodney Ascher’s infamous Room 237 explored the possible hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick’s treatment of The Shining. While each theory examined in the film became crazier and crazier, there was at least a commitment to analyse the ideas via extended footage from the film. Although never pushing back against the testimony, its documentation of its subjects was worthy of a documentary.
With THE NIGHTMARE, Rodney Ascher interviews eight sufferers of sleep paralysis. Without a formal source to reference (and without even attempting to bring one in), Ascher decides to recreate each sufferer’s account through poorly staged dramatisations. These dramatisations reveal Ascher’s severe short supply of cinematic vision and are unfortunately not the worst aspect of the film. Continue reading THE NIGHTMARE→
Dance: The Royal Ballet screening of Giselle with Natalia Osipova (she is amazing) and the Royal Ballet screening of A Winter’s Tale with Edward Watson (he is incredible). Scattered Rhymes by Rafael Bonachela for Sydney Dance (part of their Louder Than Words double bill) and the Australian Ballet in Chroma and Manon. Also the Ballet Boyz .
THE GREEN PRINCE is Shakespearean in its gripping portrayal of humanity’s eternal themes – family, love, identity, trust, hope and betrayal – a staggering achievement for a documentary which is essentially a two-hander.
Directed by Nadav Schirman, THE GREEN PRINCE tells the tale of how Shin Bet operative Gonen Ben Yitzhak recruited the young son of a Hamas founder, Mosab Hassan Yousef, to spy on his own father.
Mosab on camera is so wide-eyed and sincere that he comes across as almost an innocent even after all that has happened, while the bull-necked Gonen comes across as entirely manipulative before becoming fatherly towards his charge. Continue reading The Green Prince→