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.Continue reading “Free Online Talk: Ealing Down Under, 17 March 2021”
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.
While the theatrical cut played at the BFI London Film Festival back in 2016 (and again at a London Australian Film event in 2017), only now has the full, three-part documentary series – produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – finally got an airing on BBC Four in the UK. If you missed it, you can catch up via BBC iPlayer where it will remain for the next twelve months.
In the series, David Stratton – Australia’s leading British-born film critic and long-standing fixture of the Sydney Film Festival (for which he served as director from 1966-1983) – presents a fascinating and jolly (if, understandably patchy) jaunt through Australian cinema, with episodes themed around ‘Game Changers’, ‘Outsiders’, and ‘Family’.
In conversations about the series on social media, quite a few people have lamented the fact that – unlike other shows of this ilk – the BBC have elected not to show a relevant film after each episode. Others have noted that Stratton’s documentary has given them a whole new bunch of films to add to their watch-lists, especially since the UK remains on lockdown due to Covid-19.
So, without further ado, and to help you on your way to (re)discovering some of the delights that Australian cinema has to offer, here is my brief round-up of how British audiences might go about tracking down some of the films featured in the series.
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.
During the London Australian Film Festival at the end of June, I gave an interview for Tales of Cinema, a series of half-hour programmes on different aspects of the cinema, produced for London-based Al Araby Television. The episode in which I featured was broadcast to audiences across North Africa and the Middle East on August 6, and is now available to stream.
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.
I’m really excited to be hosting the UK premiere of Partho Sen-Gupta’s stunning SLAM (2018) with the London Australian Film Society. The screening – at Regent Street Cinema on the afternoon of August 10 – is presented in collaboration with The Riz Test, and with the support of the Menzies Australia Institute.
The feature will be preceded by a screening of short poetry film Borders (Shagufta K Iqbal / Elizabeth Mizon, 2017, and will include a post-screening panel discussion involving media commentators, scholars, and activists discussing a range of issues, from screen representation to the broader contexts of Islamophobia in Australia and Britain.
The recent British Life on Film: History and the Film Archive symposium offered a fascinating glimpse at the breadth of work being done with digital archival film from a host of filmmakers, artists, archivists, curators, and historians.
Read my review over on the excellent IAMHIST Blog.