For those who don’t know, the London Australian Film Society and Festival is an absolute labour of love for myself and Laila Dickson (and a handful of wonderful pals who help out in various ways, including Lucy Fen, who designed our flyer and social media campaign!), but that is especially true for me this year, as we pay particular tribute to David Gulpilil. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years, academically and otherwise, thinking about Gulpilil, his legacy, and his immeasurable impact on Australian cinema, and this is my tribute to him.
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.
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.
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.
After the disappointing delays – and eventual postponement – of the 2019/20 Menzies Screening series, I am delighted to announce that the Menzies Australia Institute will present a new screening + Q&A series, held completely online, over the coming months.
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.
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.
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.
In the midst of a very busy last six months or so (including spending last term teaching five modules across three institutions, AND working a part time job!), I had the distinct pleasure of hosting Q&As after a couple of brilliant documentary screenings.
Last Saturday, it was my distinct privilege to host the UK premiere of Slam (Partho Sen-Gupta, 2018) in my capacity as Co-Programmer for the London Australian Film Society.
Slam is undoubtedly a confronting film, but it is also a very important one in the contemporary climate, and one that I was admittedly a little nervous about screening. Thankfully, audience reactions, both to the film, and to the interesting and illuminating panel discussion that followed, were overwhelmingly positive.