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.


Storm clouds threatened the Red Carpet for the opening night of the St George Open Air cinema at Mrs Macquarie chair. Fortunately they did not materialise but patrons and personalities viewed the Sydney Opera House and harbour with the dramatic and stormy background.

This is one of the themes of the opening night film MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. The film chronicles the conflict between two royal cousins with Saoirse Ronan playing Mary and our very own Margot Robbie playing her cousin Queen Elizabeth !. There is another local connection with Guy Pearce as William Cecil, an advisor to the Queen. Margot Robbie has been nominated by the Screen Actors Guild for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. Continue reading RED CARPET ST GEORGE OPEN AIR CINEMA PREMIERE SCREENING


Billed as the largest event of its kind in Australia Carols In The Domain for its 36th year took place on a balmy Saturday night, 22nd December, 2018.

An announcement estimated the crowd at 50,000 but a further 20 to 30,000 attended the full dress rehearsal the night before.

It is traditionally  broadcast on the Channel 7 network and was this year hosted by the Sunrise Team; Samantha Armytage, Natalie Barr and David Koch.

However when you go to the event there is so much more to do than  seeing the Carols. There are carnival rides for the kids, taking selfies with Santa, and riding in his sleigh, exploring the giant Coca Cola truck as well as Mary Poppins big red London double decker bus.

For the VIPs, sponsors and performers there was a white carpet to be traversed. Artists appearing in the show included the Wiggles, Samantha Jade, Penny McNamee, Isaiah Firebrace, Troy Cassar-Daley, Mark Vincent, Todd McKenney, Rachael Beck, Ross Wilson and many more.

There were also musical numbers from some big shows including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mary Poppins  and Muriel’s Wedding.

Due to its association with Disney Mickey and Minnie Mouse made an appearance as well as the highlight for many little ones, the arrival of Santa Claus.

The huge choir and orchestra was conducted by Graeme Press who was celebrating his tenth anniversary in the role.

Young stars of Australian Opera were also featured and the evening concluded with a spectacular display of fireworks.

All the proceeds of candles bought on the night went to the Salvation Army.

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum (c)




Some years ago the Sydney City Council was criticised for the paucity of Christmas lighting in the city, particularly when compared to the spectacular displays in other major cities around the world. The Council and some major retailers have stepped up to the plate and have decorated the city in a lovely fashion – even the new light rail lines were brought into play.

David Jones pulled up its socks this year and had enchanting Christmas windows in its Market Street store.

Nearby Christmas themed projections were displayed on the magnificent facade of St Mary’s Cathedral.

The giant Christmas Tree and choirs ensured that Martin Place was packed on the nights leading up to Christmas.

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum (c)



When I was a young child I used to read Aquaman comics. At that time he was drawn with short  bleached blonde hair, a green skivvy, and yellow pants.  Of all the super heroes in the DC universe Jason Momoa looks totally different to the original comic strip.

Momoa is 193 centimetres tall, muscle bound with dreadlocks. His father is of native Hawaiian descent while his mother is of German ancestry- hence his piercing blue eyes, When Momoa walked the blue carpet recently to say that he made  an enormous impact due to his size and physicality is an understatement.

In fact, unusual for a major star Momoa walked three Red Carpets including the Gold Coast (where the film was made), Melbourne and here in Sydney. Momoa has a strong affection for Australia having rock climbed his way  through our fair land and is a keen supporter of the Port Adelaide Aussie Rules club.

Momoa is also a fan of the Byron Bay Blues Festival where I first photographed him  and his co-star Patrick Wilson.

AQUAMAN, had its first stand-alone release, on Boxing Day topped the Box Office raking in $3, 795.000. Wherever it was released prior to premiering in Australia it did enormous box office, particularly in China.

To further strengthen its Australian ties it was directed by James Wan and stars Nicole Kidman as Aquaman’s mother.

The film has been given a major release – some 635 screens- in 2D, 3D and IMAX by Roadshow Films in Australia.

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum. (c)



Usually when one goes to a magic show you usually see only one magician performing. At the ILLUSIONISTS : DIRECT FROM BROADWAY you get to see eight magicians

Although the majority of the magicians are American this multi magician show had its world premiere in the Sydney Opera House in 2012. Since then the show has toured 25 countries and has returned regularly to Sydney at this time of year. To maintain variety and surprise the show has returned in various guises commencing with the Illusionists 2012 and  thereafter the illusionists 2.0, The Illusionists 2014, The Illusionists 1903, and this year the show is entitled the Illusionists: Direct from Broadway.

One of the principal illusionists Kevin James, known as the Inventor, in a surprise revelation, stated the Illusionists was only meant to be a three week show at the Opera House. He is as delighted with the continued success of the show after six years in its various iterations.  

Despite its short seasons the shown has created box office records with over 85,000 Sydney Opera House audiences alone having witnessed the non stop spectacle and wonderment of these shows. Continue reading THE ILLUSIONISTS : DIRECT FROM BROADWAY : MEDIA CALL


The Powerhouse Museum’s main hall was packed to the rafters for Akira Isogawa exhibition and book launch on Tuesday 11th December. The exhibition itself became open to the general public on Friday 14th December.

Fashion pioneers were there including Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee. Art patrons and philanthropists were there including John Kaldor and Naomi Milgrom.. In fact, Ms Milgrom introduced Akira on stage to the audience after giving a heartfelt and glowing precis of Akira’s remarkable 25 year career.

The Minister for the Arts Don Harwin also spoke, as he said, as Akira’s friend.

Speakers quoted passages from Roger Leong’s book on Akira as it too was being launched. Also introduced  was the new Director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Lisa Havilah, who was formerly Director of Carriageworks.

Nearby to the main hall  was the fashion exhibition itself. Despite being exhibited around the world, this exhibition is Akira’s first major retrospective, emphasising his inspirations and influences starting from a top which was a garment designed by Akira in 1994 for his collection ‘Not made in Japan’.

The exhibition is divided into four themes: Journey, Kimono, Collaborations and Craftsmanship.  In  addition to the 100 or so fashion pieces on display, some of which came from garments already donated to the Gallery, Akira indicated that as well what he has previously donated he will be donating a further 100 pieces bringing the Museum’s archive collection to 200.

Highlights included Akira’s designs for the Sydney Dance Company going back to the time when Graeme Murphy was its Director. The accompanying video showed how these designs were put to use with the dancers performances. Also included is his first Vogue magazine cover with a dress modelled by Naomi Campbell. Vogue’s editor saw Akira’s talent early on and her promotion of Akira launched him into the fashion guru stratosphere.

There is also a very informative video narrated by Akira as to how be came to Australia and became involved in fashion which included his graduation from East Sydney TAFE, to making counter culture costumes for 1990’s underground rap parties  to being the darling of wealthy women and their daughters.

The Akira Isogawa exhibition runs at the Museum of Applies Arts and Sciences until 30 June 2019.

Featured image – Biographer Roger Leong and Akira Isogawa. All pics by Ben Apfelbaum.


To some Australians Shane Warne is a legend but others see him as deeply flawed. To set the record straight  and dispel some of these  views, Shane Warne has written his pull no punches autobiography, NO SPIN. Some will be interested in his cricketing career including the co called Ball Of The Century to dismiss Mike Gatting as well as his history making 700th Test wicket. The  Sultan of Spin also sheds light on the art of leg-spin bowling, unveiling how he delivered some of his most potent deliveries.

Then there is the other Shane Warne, with scandal involving the use of a diuretic pill in South Africa, and allegations of links to Indian cricket betting. After pledging  that he would not smoke there is the busting of this pledge by a schoolboy. There are his hair restorative commercials and of-course his magazine page filling relationship with Elizabeth Hurley. Shane Warne’s book does not shy away from  any of these controversies, facing them head-on. Continue reading SHANE WARNE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY : NO SPIN


As is the case there is always an especially glittering Red Carpet at the AACTA awards. Naturally Nicole Kidman  sparkled and was truly happy to be accompanied by her mum, and her niece Lucia Hawley.

Mirroring Australian politics  the AACTA Awards have looked for greater cooperation with the Asian cinema markets with the AACTA Asian Awards. These winners also walked the Red Carpet together with other Australian nominees, many with a multicultural background. Unlike the torrential rain which plagued the Aria Awards a week earlier, the AACTA Red Carpet took place on the 5th December in sparkling sunshine in its traditional position at the Star Event Centre in Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, facing our glorious harbour.

Featured image – Isabel Lucas. All pics by Ben Apfelbaum


Stephen Curry was back again hosting the AACTA Awards ceremony held at the Star Event Centre on 5th December. Much was made of the 60th anniversary of this event and how far the Industry has come over this time. Occasionally the ceremony is a victim of its own making in that past award winners have been recognised and work internationally or interstate and are unable to attend this year’s event despite being nominated.

Nevertheless such is the depth of talent in the film and television industry that the capacious Star Event Centre was filled to the brim.

The most prestigious award of the evening went to Bryan Brown who received the  Longford  Lyell Award for his body of work  and his contribution to the film and television industry.

The Byron Kennedy Award went to Ian Darling of the Good Pitch Australia/ Documentary Australia Foundation.

Indigenous films were prominent in the Award nominations with the drama series  Mystery Road and the movie Sweet Country. 

As is the case in some Oscar ceremonies a film dominates the Awards and that film was Sweet Country winning six awards including Best Film, Best Director (Warwick Thornton), Best Cinematography (Warwick Thornton) and Best Lead Actor (Hamilton Morris – who had never acted before).

Among the other winners were Angourie Rice for Best Actress for ‘Ladies in Black’, Simon Baker for Best Supporting Actor for ‘Breath’, Nicole Kidman for Best Supporting Actress for ‘Boy Erased’. ‘Boy Erased’  also received an award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

‘Mystery Road’ and ‘Riot’ dominated the television categories, receiving three awards each including Best Drama series and Best Tele Feature or Mini Series respectively.

‘Riot’ won the best Lead Actor in a Television Drama  for Damon Herriman and Best Lead Actress for first time winner Kate Box.

‘Mystery Road’ won both the best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for Wayne Blair and Deborah Mailman.

For a complete list of award winners visit

The audience also enjoyed Stephen Curry ‘s pre-recorded skits, Gina Riley and Jane Turner reprising their roles as Kath and Kim to present the award for Best Comedian for Hannah Gadsby. Other highlights included Vance Joy’s performance and Katie Noonan’s ‘In Memoriam’ tribute.

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum (c)


The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) awards are a continuum of the Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards which recognised screen excellence in Australia since 1958. The first AACTA award had humble origins in that it was presented to a short training film produced by the Federal Government.

The Minister for the Arts Don Harwin made the point that for every dollar the New South Wales Government invested on film and television, the New South Wales economy reaped a benefit of $21. Continue reading AACTA AWARDS INDUSTRY LUNCHEON


Flickerfest 2019 had its launch earlier this week at the exclusive upstairs Bar at Bondi Icebergs.

Invitees had enjoyed canapes and some very fine Black Night cocktails.

Including the appetisers served, our cinematic tastes were teased with the screening of a humorous and delightful 1960’s Batman and Robin short film set on Bondi Beach which is being used to promote the Festival.

As a follow up there was a screening  of a new Gracie Otto short film, a clever and mischievous black comedy, which was screened to very warm applause. Continue reading THE LAUNCH OF FLICKERFEST 2019