Tag Archives: sydney

MIFF 2011: 33 Postcards

26 Jul

By Mia Robinson

97 Minutes, Mandarin and English.

Director Pauline Chan presents a beautifully told, original story with 33 Postcards.  

Mei Mei (Zhu Lin) grew up in an orphanage in China.  Sponsorship from Australian Dean Randall (Guy Pearce) meant that she could receive an education and a sense of family that care for her, however remote.  The orphanage choir travels to perform in Sydney, and it’s Mei Mei’s one chance to meet the man who has been sponsoring her and writing to her for years.  Once in Sydney, she runs away from the group and endeavours to meet Randall.  Along the way she meets and befriends Carl (Lincoln Lewis), falls in with some bad company, has a few Aussie adventures of her own, and all beliefs about Randall’s supposedly “Brady Bunch” life (as depicted in his letters) are confronted.

This is a story that deals with belonging and redemption, but most importantly it explores what these two people from very different worlds have in common – a feeling of being alone.  Mei Mei’s demonstrative nature develops as a perfect balance next to Randall’s restraint.  An Australian and Chinese co-production, the film employs iconic imagery of Sydney and the countryside of China, along with a wonderfully melding of Australian and Chinese music.  However, 33 Postcards should not be limited to either nationality, it’s a universal story that is sure to please any audience.  You many need to take a tissue.

7 out of 10.

For trailer please visit:


33 Postcards is out through Titan View.  It should get a general release in November.


Campaign: Stephen Fry *Updated* *Success!*

12 Jun


Sitting is just one of the things Stephen Fry does well.

WELL! well well well well. We did it! Mr S Fry has plans to join us in fair (well not at this time of year, but shhh don’t tell him) city of Melbourne.

Here is the holy tweet of confirmation. http://twitter.com/stephenfry/status/16133969459

Stephen, if Melbourne didn’t adore you already, they sure do now!

Continue reading

The Strength of Water – Australian release

3 Dec

So, actually being in the NZ film industry has sucked my time away from AFR. But as this is in direct interest to my job, you get an update about the beautiful New Zealand film The Strength of Water. It opens today in Melbourne (Palace Como), Sydney (Chauvel) and Brisbane (Palace Barracks). Please check it out. Promise it’s worth it.

The Strength of Water - in Australian cinemas now


When a mysterious stranger arrives in their isolated coastal town, ten-year-old twins Kimi and Melody are forced apart. Kimi must find the strength to let go of what he loves the most.

Kimi and Melody live happily in an isolated Maori community until an enigmatic stranger, Tai, arrives, precipitating an accident which forces the twins apart. While others punish Tai, Kimi acts out his heartbreaking loneliness in destructive, angry ways, while looking after the Melody that only he can see. His family is concerned for him, but only Kimi’s belief in his sister can save him.

Here are some good reviews (that’s because I couldn’t find any bad ones. No, really.)

The New Zealand Herald

The Dominion Post


Link to the Official Strength of Water website

A piece about the director Armagan Ballantyne – who I have mentioned before in a previous blog

…and the trailer:

MIFF review: Going Down (1983)

15 Aug


Going Down is one of those movies that’s so good you keep turning around to catch the look on your friends’ faces during the funny moments. You want to see if they’re laughing as hard as you are.

going-down-3Making a come back at MIFF as part of the post-punk program, Going Down premiered in Melbourne in 1983 at an adult cinema that had recently closed down and become a purveyor of more regular films. But of course the old trench-coated regulars still rocked up and were surprised to find that Going Down was not the kind of movie they were looking for. Or maybe…

The story revolves around four twenty-something women having a debaucherous last night out in old Sydney town before the straight one of the bunch, Karli (Tracey Mann), flies to the Big Apple with her daddy’s $3000, in an attempt to get her shit together. The anarchy that ensues harks back to a time when drugs were cheap, rock’n’roll was raw and the young generation still wore its bohemian element with pride.

This film is a testament to all those who never sold out. It couldn’t be more at odds with the MIFF program guide’s description of it as ‘A kind of post-punk proto-Sex in the City.’ While it is about female friendship, the women couldn’t care less about corporate careers, designer fashion, and finding Mr Right. One wears a tshirt that says ‘If I can’t be free I can be cheap.’

Going Down captures the expansive and full-throttle nature of 80s subcultures on the urban fringes using raw handheld footage and gritty location shoots. Fast cars ride with the shared house debris, the Kings Cross nightlife, Drag Queens, boys with dumb bogan wrap-around-sunglasses and bleached mullets, over-the-counter cough medicine, ugly lead singers with real talent, shooting up at parties, women in hot plastic pants, dalliances with prostitution and drunken sex with strangers. The depiction of Aussie vernacular never rang so true against the sunny outlines of Centrepoint Tower and Bondi Beach. Arguments about money, morals, and loyalty swing fast and wild across the story arc, as friends clash and loyalties are divided.


Carrie Bradshaw doesn't shop at Woolworths

While the film may be ideologically oppositional, its structure builds on the Hollywood system rather than rejecting it. Its characters are not completely without purpose; they are simply living in the moment. Some of them are drug-fucked, sure, but their flaws are recognisable and the bad lines aren’t of the scripted variety; they’re the ones going up their noses. I recognised something of myself in all four women as well as the coke-lid spectacled Greg (David Argue) on his crazy electro-out of control roller skates. There’s plenty of un-pc shouts of ‘cunts’ and ‘poofters’ but the female characters  behave like real people, not little girls with soft focus hair looking for a boy’s shoulder to cry on.

Although Going Down was independent with a cumulative budget of $300 000, this film wasn’t all punk in process. It is technically excellent, it was shot twice over a number of years, and its brand of realism was not designed to shock. Two of the principal actors were also co-script writers – Ellen (Moira MacLaine-Cross) and Jackie (Julie Barry). “This was their story, this was what was happening at the time,” states director Haydn Keenan.

Things were less controlled back then. The film makers managed to get the Sydney Harbour Bridge closed for free for 40 minutes. They secured permission to stage a food fight outside Sydney Airport. The crew even did all their own stunts. Keenan says that in a way he misses the “lack of professionalism” and DIY spirit of that era. “Now if you want do something you have to pay $1000 to hire an empty office in an empty building.”

Although the first version apparently ‘went down well’ with test audiences aged 18-29 in demographically diverse Sydney postcodes, ultimately its success was limited by distributors’ fear of family unfriendly depictions and values.

I will be playing a tribute to Pel Mel, the band who features prominently on the soundtrack, next time I DJ. The song? ‘No word from China.’

Anna Sutton

–> A negative take on the film by someone else who saw it at MIFF this year: {here}

–> Senses of Cinema critique {here}

–> Director Haydn Keenan has the film for sale on his site {here}

Weekend Reading: Box office Gross, High pays, and Shooting in Sydney

26 Apr

Here are a couple of good articles E.J. Epstein has written for Slate magazine:

The truth about box office gross {link}

“First, the reported “grosses” are not those of the studios but those of the movie houses. The movie houses take these sums and keep their share (or what they claim is their share)—which can amount to more than 50 percent of the original box-office total. Consider, for example, Touchstone’s Gone in 60 Seconds, which had a $242 million box-office gross. From this impressive haul, the theaters kept $129.8 million and remitted the balance to Disney’s distribution arm, Buena Vista. After paying mandatory trade dues to the MPAA, Buena Vista was left with $101.6 million. From this amount, it repaid the marketing expenses that had been advanced—$13 million for prints so the film could open in thousands of theatres; $10.2 million for the insurance, local taxes, custom clearances, and other logistical expenses; and $67.4 million for advertising. What remained of the nearly quarter-billion-dollar “gross” was a paltry $11 million. (And that figure does not account for the $103.3 million that Disney had paid to make the movie in the first place.)”

High pays for A-list deserved{link}

Studio executives are hardly clueless when it comes to negotiating contracts with A-list talent, although the popularity of The-Moguls-Must-Be-Crazy stories in the media would have you believe otherwise. Examples abound: The Wall Street Journal reported that, “In order to sign actress Cameron Diaz and director Nancy Meyers, the [Sony] studio had planned to offer both women a share of the movie’s gross box-office revenue from its first day of release on. It is a practice known as ‘first-dollar gross’ and it’s standard fare for top-tier talent.” Variety reported that “20 percent of the gross [of King Kong] is going to [Peter] Jackson.” Wiredreported that, “A deal worth $20 million against 20 percent of the box office gross [is] the kind of contract Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks generally get.”

Down a slightly different tack, here is an article from Timeout on the prohibitive costs to shooting in Sydney, contains interesting vox-pops with various Australian film luminaries {link}

Gillian Armstrong: “Too many people had earned a lot of money from the big US films. The local councils in Sydney can’t see the big picture. It’s really frustrating and sad to see a film like Tender Hook being shot in Melbourne when it’s set in Bondi in the 1920s. The minute Fox Studios got in, it sent out the wrong message. It did help some people, but not the local film writers/directors/producers. And it created a boom-bust situation. The Matrix and Mission Impossible II could pay those huge fees. Then the studio was empty for two years until Baz Luhrmann brought Australia in.”