Celebrating Gulpilil: Chichester International Film Festival

The recent death of Yolŋu actor and dancer David Gulpilil was an immeasurable loss for Australian and international cinema. From the revival of feature production in the 1970s, right up to the recent rise of Indigenous cinema, his was a constant yet mercurial presence, a man whose storytelling was unparalleled and whose face could light up any screen.

Although he’ll never be forgotten in Australia, it is great to see Gulpilil’s legacy being celebrated globally, from the many obituaries in international publications, to the roll-out of Molly Reynolds’ tender documentary portrait My Name is Gulpilil (which I recently reviewed for History Australia), through to Criterion’s current celebration of his work on their North American streaming service. Thankfully, plans are also afoot to celebrate his legacy here in the UK, starting with a mini-retrospective at this month’s Chichester International Film Festival.

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Satellite Dreaming Revisited: Australian Indigenous Media (Screening + Discussion)

Photograph of Aboriginal media pioneer Freda Glynn, who gazes at the camera, her fingers interlocked.
Aboriginal media pioneer, and subject of She Who Must Be Loved, Freda Glynn

EDIT (11/03): A recording of the discussion is now available on the Satellite Dreaming Revisited website.

In the coming weeks, I’m honoured to be helping to launch a new online resource dedicated to Australian Indigenous Media, Satellite Dreaming Revisited, in my role as Screening Coordinator at the Menzies Australia Institute at King’s College London.

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Online Public Talk at University of St Andrews

EDIT (11/11): If you missed my talk, but still want to catch it, you can access a recording here.

I have been invited to deliver an online research seminar as part of the Film Studies Departmental Speaker Series at the University of St Andrews next Wednesday, November 10. I’m particularly excited to be sharing some new work on the intersections of cinematic, geological, and colonial timescales in Nic Roeg’s Walkabout, which will eventually feature in the edited collection Screening Australia: Culture and Media in Context, a long overdue book project that I’ve been working on with Dr Peter Kilroy (to be published by Peter Lang next year).

Special thanks to Dr Zöe Shacklock and everyone at St Andrews Film Studies for the invite – full details and booking link below.

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Menzies Screenings (2021/22)

The first of the 2021/22 Menzies Screenings is already under our belt – a timely, pre-COP26 screening of Nic Wrathall’s vital documentary Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley (2018) in October – and we have two more brilliant films coming up to round out 2021.

The 2021/22 Menzies Screening series comprises three screenings that once again speak to the Menzies Australia Institute’s ongoing theme of ‘Bearing Witness’. From films focusing on issues of vital importance to 21st century Australia, to explorations of its history, and personal journeys of discovery, this series offers a unique range of perspectives on the contemporary nation.

In ‘Bearing Witness’ to the contemporary moment, this screening series – and the accompanying Q&A sessions – offer a chance to re-evaluate our approaches to narratives of historical and contemporary importance to Australia and its place in the world.

Further info on the three screenings can be found below,
but virtual bookings are now open: https://watch.eventive.org/menzies/

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Video Essay: David Gulpilil, settler cinema, and the Indigenous body

Coronavirus has somehow allowed me to avoid conference presentations for over a year now, whilst also opening up the opportunity to attend online versions of conferences I’ve never been able to attend in person (such as the SSAAANZ conference back in December).

The theme of this year’s online BAFTSS conference – ‘time and the body’ – got me pondering ‘bodies’ in Australian cinema, and how the body politic of national cinema has shifted since the film revival of the 1970s. The result is a ten minute video essay entitled David Gulpilil, settler cinema, and the Indigenous body, below, which is really just a sketch towards some recent thinking about Australia’s settler cinema/s, and the potential problems of absorbing Indigenous cinema (and Indigenous bodies) within a national-cultural framework that still actively excludes (or harms) First Nations communities and individuals.

At this year’s conference – hosted by the University of Southampton – I’ll be discussing the video essay, and some of these ideas, in Session F, Panel 1 – ‘Postcoloniality and Indigeneity’ – on Thursday April 8, alongside my fellow panellists Patrick Adamson and Paul Janman.

Further information on this year’s BAFTSS conference (April 7-9), including registration details, can be found on the association’s website.

Free Online Talk: Ealing Down Under, 17 March 2021

On 17 March 2021, I’ll be delivering a free online talk, introducing Ealing Studios’ Australian venture, as part of an excellent series of public events organised by Westminster Libraries. My talk comes a couple of weeks after Jenny Stewart on Ealing’s depictions of post-war London, and there are also talks from Jose Arroyo on Burt Lancaster, Mark Glancy on Hitchcock and Grant, and many more still to be announced.

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The Tyranny of (Social) Distance: Virtual Film Clubs and Coping with Covid

sapphires
Watching, and chatting about, The Sapphires as part of To(S)D #5

In lieu of the 2019/20 Menzies Screening Series – which was due to commence in late March, but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 epidemic – a small cohort of academics, researchers, and friends of the Menzies Australia Institute have been holding a virtual film club, every Tuesday. What started as a casual way to keep in touch early in lockdown has developed into a weekly link to the world beyond our (often) home-bound bubbles. Just prior to the first ‘screening’, we dubbed it the Tyranny of (Social) Distance Film Club; a nod to (and none-too-subtle bastardisation of) that famous phrase, popularised by controversial Australian historian (and History Warrior), Geoffrey Blainey. The ‘Tyranny of Distance’ was a notion that sought to articulate the particular character imposed on Australia by its distance from Europe, and it seemed an apt name for an Australian film club that takes place online, whilst we are all physically distant from our friends, family, and colleagues.

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POSTPONED: Menzies Screening Series 2019/20

MS-2019:20

UPDATE 12/05/2020: For obvious reasons, this year’s Menzies Screenings were all cancelled, and the series postponed. All things going well, I hope to be able to present an extended version of this themed screening series at the Menzies Australia Institute in 2020/21.

Delayed slightly by a hefty first term workload (and two bouts of UCU strike action), I’m pleased to announce that the Menzies Screening Series is returning to the Menzies Australia Institute at King’s College London for a trio of events in early 2020.

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CANCELLED: The Sentimental Bloke in Scotland!

sentimental

UPDATE 12/05/2020: For obvious reasons, this year’s Hippodrome Silent Film Festival was postponed to October. Sadly, this has also been cancelled, but I hope to be able to organise a belated centenary screening of the film in London at some point in the future.

On Friday March 20, I will be introducing a very special screening of Australia’s finest silent film, The Sentimental Bloke (1919), at the brilliant Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (HippFest) in Bo’ness, Scotland. Based on CJ Dennis’ vivid, colloquial verse about the lives and loves of working class folk, the film is the product of a brief but fruitful partnership between Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell.

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