Celebrating Gulpilil: New Writing – Where to Begin with David Gulpilil (for BFI website)

As part of efforts to ensure David Gulpilil’s life and work is celebrated in the UK, I have written a short feature article for the British Film Institute’s ‘Where to begin’ series, which aims to introduce audiences to a new star or filmmaker, and gives them tips on where to start, where to go next, and what to avoid.

As the BFI’s own blurb puts it:

One of the great presences in Australian film, David Gulpilil blazed a trail for Aboriginal representation on screen – from breakout hits Walkabout and Crocodile Dundee to more recent films that blasted away the stereotypes.

Where to begin with David Gulpilil might have some contentious choices, so feel free to let me know where you’d suggest people start, either in the comments below or via Twitter.

And, of course, don’t forget to keep an eye out for more celebrations of Gulpilil’s life and work, including a short retrospective (and my illustrated talk) at Chichester International Film Festival later this month.

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.

Continue reading “Celebrating Gulpilil: Chichester International Film Festival”

NEW WRITING: Booklet Essay for The Proposition (BFI)

John Hillcoat’s scabrous frontier western The Proposition (2005) is among the best Australian films of the 21st century, and it was recently given the much deserved Blu-ray/UHD treatment from the wonderful folks at the British Film Institute. The release includes a wonderful 80-page book, to which I was delighted to contribute a short essay, alongside contributions from the film’s director, John Hillcoat, composer Warren Ellis, producer Cat Villiers, star Leah Purcell, and Professor Catriona Elder.

Continue reading “NEW WRITING: Booklet Essay for The Proposition (BFI)”

NEW PUBLICATION: Review of My Name is Gulpilil in History Australia

Production still from My Name is Gulpilil (Molly Reynolds, 2021)

The recent death of Yolŋu actor, dancer, and icon David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu brought great sadness, as well as a flurry of celebration, as the world paid tribute to one of Australia’s finest talents. Early in 2021, I made a video essay for the BAFTSS Conference highlighting his centrality to the ‘body politic’ of post-1970s Australian cinema, which also doubled as a tribute of sorts.

Following this, I was invited to review Molly Reynolds’ bold, moving documentary collaboration with the great man, My Name is Gulpilil, for the ‘Off the Page’ section of the History Australia journal. The review has been available as a pre-print for a little while, but I’m pleased to say it has now got a place in Volume 18, Issue 4 of the journal, and is freely available via Open Access.

Continue reading “NEW PUBLICATION: Review of My Name is Gulpilil in History Australia”

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.

Continue reading “Online Public Talk at University of St Andrews”

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/

Continue reading “Menzies Screenings (2021/22)”

FORTHCOMING: Ealing Abroad to be published by BFI/Bloomsbury in 2023

Having finally bitten the bullet and gotten a proposal together earlier this year, I’m pleased to say that my first monograph, Ealing Abroad: Post-War British Cinema, Settler Colonialism and Ealing Studios in Australia, will be published in 2023 by BFI/Bloomsbury.

This will be the first book-length study dedicated to the five features that Ealing made in Australia between 1945 and 1960, and seeks to position them as part of a broader trend in post-war British cinema that both embraced, and complicated, Britain’s imperial links in the 1940s and 50s, particularly as it relates to Britain’s former Dominions.

More to follow…

NEW PUBLICATION: An international production but ‘not much Australian’: authenticity and Australianness in Under Capricorn (Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism)

Presenting my paper at Under Capricorn + 70 (King’s College London, 5-6 September 2019). [Photo credit: @FilmStudiesFF]

Way back in September 2019, I was invited to participate in a symposium, organised by Prof. Charles Barr and Dr Stéphane Duckett, celebrating the 70th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s much maligned, Australian-set melodrama, Under Capricorn (1949).

Tasked with offering a perspective on the film’s Australian connections, I presented a paper entitled ‘An international production but ‘not much Australian’: authenticity and Australianness in Under Capricorn’, and I’m pleased to say that an extended and revised version of that paper has now been published as part of a special dossier on the film, Under Capricorn: 70 Years On, published by Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism (open access).

Continue reading “NEW PUBLICATION: An international production but ‘not much Australian’: authenticity and Australianness in Under Capricorn (Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism)”

David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema – A Watch List

DS

 

Every Sunday evening, for the last few weeks, I’ve been live-tweeting along to David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema (you can revisit the threads here: episode 1 / episode 2 / episode 3).

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.

Continue reading “David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema – A Watch List”