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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.