Why I Adore: Lantana

By James Madden

First viewings can be overrated. Fairly frequently, I fall in love with a film upon a second viewing. Lantana was one of those experiences. I was a touch too young to see Lantana in its theatrical release. Sure, I could have done so, but at the tender age of 13, Jim Carrey comedies shone brighter on my radar. That is not to say that I hadn’t heard about Lantana. It was so critically acclaimed that upon release at the local video store (at a time not too long ago where videos could still be hired), I instantly snatched it up. After all, I had grown into a mature and worldly 14-year-old by that point.

Genius! An instant classic! Breathtaking Australian cinema at it’s finest! These were words I had heard sung from the heavens by not only critics and through promotional television soundbites, but from close family members too. For me, however, it just simply flew over my head. It wasn’t until the second viewing where I fell deeply and passionately in love.
Like the wild shrub that it is named after, Lantana offers an interconnected vine of characters that are quickly growing out-of-control within their own environment. Though the lantana weed is considered a pest, it also contains simple and beautiful flowers within its thorny vines. This analogy is not lost, and speaks volumes for the characters within the story.

Adapted for the screen by Andrew Bovell, based on his play Speaking in Tongues, Lantana presents a multi-strand narrative consisting of four couples in a contemporary Australian setting. Not all couples belong to the same social class, however . The unemployed Nik (Vince Colosimo) and his wife Paula (Daniella Farinacci), a nurse, are working class. Their neighbours Jane (Rachael Blake) and Pete (Glenn Robbins) are lower-middle class with seemingly more money, while detective Leon (Anthony LaPaglia) and his teacher wife Sonja (Kerry Armstrong) are middle class.  Psychiatrist and author Valerie (Barbara Hershey) and her husband, John (Geoffrey Rush), an academic, have enough money to live in a spacious home with a spectacular view.

Each character is caught in moments of quiet, suburban desperation. The underbelly of modern suburbia is not a novel concept, but underpinning this theme is a mystery motif. The opening images present a woman’s body lying apparently motionless amongst the tangled vines of the lantana weed. A connection is later made to the disappearance of psychiatrist Valerie Somers, who never made it home after she ran her car off the road. As the film progresses, the mystery slowly unravels, but in an unusual style. Valerie doesn’t even disappear until half way through the film. Up until then, the principal characters are increasingly intertwining.

Leon begins an affair with Jane after meeting in dance class, while his marriage to Sonja continues to sour. Sonja’s sessions with Valerie reveal the deep connections missing in both of their lives, as the story then follows Valerie home. Her life is surrounded by agonising grief after the murder of her 11-year-old daughter only two years beforehand. Not coping well with the grief, Valerie and husband John are also drifting further apart. Even in the confines of their car, their detachment is obvious.

Having not made a feature film since Bliss in 1985, Ray Lawrence made a big return with Lantana. Lawrence articulates the disintegration of relationships most marvellously and effectively well through use of space and proximity. John and Valerie rarely look at each other while on screen. Their days are spent commuting back and forth from work in the car, where they avoid face to face contact. Barbara Hershey is particularly compelling when Valerie emotionally breaks down in a phone booth. Catching the answering machine, Valerie initially lets John know of her car troubles. After two more phone calls, she psychologically collapses and details her pain. As Valerie opens up, the vast distance becomes strikingly apparent and is in direct contrast to the estrangement that occurs daily within an arm’s length.

Meanwhile, Rachael Blake creates an atypical character in Jane. Cast as the “other woman”, Jane could be seen as a Fatal Attraction-type temptress, bordering on the lines of psychotic stalker. Instead, a portrait of an unhappy housewife is shaped. Jane lives an unfulfilled life, where dreams occupy her reality, as she dances along to Cuban music in her living room with a glass of vodka in one hand and a cigarette in the other. There is a moment where it seems she may become the needy, stereotypical adulteress, but instead she shies back into her insular fantasy world.

As an ensemble, the cast is as good as it gets. While I’ve singled out Hershey and Blake, each key actor could easily be commended on their brilliant portrayals. Impressive chemistry exudes freely and each performance is astonishing. Even the supporting actors are terrific despite little screen time, with noteworthy performances from Leah Purcell, Peter Phelps and Russell Dykstra.

Paul Kelly’s score adds a necessary element of mystery, as well as providing a contemporary suburban foundation. A Cuban/Salsa flavour is added and is most effectively utilised within the final scene as Celia Cruz sings “Te Busco”. Each character is presented in their current and unsure state. While the future may be hopeful, it is anything but certain, and as Leon and Sonja dance, this becomes painfully clear.

About James Madden: James Madden has written for a slew of student newspapers/magazines and online publications including Portable, Upstart and X and Y magazine. He is currently undertaking a Master of Arts and Cultural Management at the University of Melbourne. James founded Film Blerg in 2009 where he continues to slave away and will be a Screen Editor for Farrago magazine in 2012. Many of his inane ramblings can be found here as well as on Twitter @FilmBlerg.

Editor’s Note: More on Lantana

In 2011 AFI | AACTA hosted special ten-year Anniversary Screenings of Lantana in Sydney and Melbourne, followed by Q&A sessions with key cast and crew members. The Melbourne screening of Lantana involved discussion with the film’s producer Jan Chapman and actors Vince Colosimo and Kerry Armstrong. You can watch highlights below, and while the lighting is atrocious, the sound is excellent, and their reminiscences about the production process are fascinating and illuminating.

Read Previous ‘Why I Adore’ Posts:

Paul Anthony Nelson (the ‘Why I Adore’ godfather and founder) introduces the concept, and rhapsodises about Mad Max. AFI Membership Administrator Lia McCrae-Moore revisits the lyrical beauty of One Night the Moon and Clem Bastow reminisces about a childhood spent watching the television show Round the Twist. Or you can read Anthony Morris flirting with disaster in his adoration of Romper Stomper, Annie Stevens going bridal with Muriel’s Wedding, or Popzilla bowing down before the altar of literary screen adaptations. Most recently, Lia McCrae-Moore showers affection on SBS’s high-octane police thriller, East West 101, Rochelle Simienowicz delves deeply into the ground-breaking television series, Love My Way, and Simon Elschlepp discovers a fondness for stylish and audacious futuristic noir, Dark City.  Thomas Caldwell rhapsodises about Richard Lowenstein’s anarchic and playful 1986 film Dogs in Space, John Bailey remembers a strange fascination with Big Brother Up Late, and most recently Hila Shachar explains why Cate Shortland’s Somersault moves her so.

Contribute: We’re currently looking for more ’Why I Adore’ articles devoted to Australian film and television. Send a one paragraph summary to editor[at] afi.org.au and we’ll get back to you with more details.

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Snapshots from the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony

Here’s an editor’s quick pick of snapshots from the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony, held at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday 31 January, 2012. They’re a collection of red carpet pics, photos from the Ceremony, media wall images of winners, and afterparty snaps. Hope you enjoy them, and there’ll be more uploaded soon!

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To see a gallery of photos of winners in the media room, click here to find them on the AACTA website. There are also lots of lovely pictures on our AACTA Facebook page.

Inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony Winners Announced!

Last night, AACTA President Geoffrey Rush was joined on stage by internationally acclaimed Australian actors including Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Mia Wasikowska, Jonathan and Anthony LaPaglia, Jacki Weaver and Rachael Taylor to honour the year’s best achievements in Australian film and television at the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony, held at the Sydney Opera House.

The Ceremony also featured some of the most popular names in Australian entertainment, including performances by Olivia Newton-John, Tim Rogers and Megan Washington.

Winners announced at the Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony are as follows:

AACTA Award for Best YOUNG ACTOR

  • Lara Robinson. Cloudstreet – Part 1. FOXTEL – Showcase

Alex Dimitriades, winner of Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama, for his performance in THE SLAP.

TELEVISION

AACTA Award for Best Television Drama Series

  • East West 101, Season 3 – The Heroes’ Journey. Steve Knapman, Kris Wyld. SBS

AACTA Award for Best Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series

  • The Slap. Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden, Michael McMahon. ABC1

AACTA Award for Best Light Entertainment Television Series

  • The Gruen Transfer, Series 4. Andrew Denton, Anita Jacoby, Jon Casimir. ABC1

AACTA Award for Best Direction in Television

  • The Slap – Episode 3 ‘Harry’. Matthew Saville. ABC1

AACTA Award for Best Screenplay in Television

  • The Slap – Episode 3 ‘Harry’. Brendan Cowell. ABC1

AACTA Award for Best LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

  • Alex Dimitriades. The Slap. ABC1

Sarah Snook, winner of Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama, for her perfomance in SISTERS OF WAR.

AACTA Award for Best LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

  • Sarah Snook. Sisters Of War. ABC1

AACTA Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama

  • Richard Cawthorne. Killing Time – Episode 2. FOXTEL – TV1

AACTA Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama

  • Diana Glenn. The Slap – Episode 3 ‘Harry’. ABC1

SWITCHED ON AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION PROGRAM

  • Packed To The Rafters. Seven Network

SWITCHED ON AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

  • Asher Keddie. Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo. ABC1

Cast and crew members from RED DOG, winner of the AACTA Award for Best Film.

SAMSUNG AACTA Award for Best FILM

  • RED DOG. Nelson Woss, Julie Ryan.

AACTA Award for Best DIRECTION

  • Snowtown. Justin Kurzel.

AACTA Award for Best Original Screenplay

  • Griff The Invisible. Leon Ford.

AACTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Snowtown. Shaun Grant.

Daniel Henshall, winner of Best Lead Actor for his performance in SNOWTOWN.

AACTA Award for Best LEAD ACTOR

  • Daniel Henshall. Snowtown.

AACTA Award for Best LEAD Actress

  • Judy Davis. The Eye Of The Storm.

AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actor

  • Hugo Weaving. Oranges And Sunshine.

AACTA Award for Best Supporting ACTRESS

  • Louise Harris. Snowtown.

Judy Davis, Winner of Best Lead Actress, THE EYE OF THE STORM

Highlights of the AACTA International Awards Ceremony, held on 27 January in Los Angeles, were also screened at tonight’s event, with six winners announced across five categories:

AACTA International Award for Best Screenplay (Joint Winners)

· The Ides Of March. George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon

· Margin Call. J.C. Chandor

AACTA International Award for Best Direction

· The Artist. Michel Hazanavicius

AACTA International Award for Best Actor

· Jean Dujardin. The Artist

AACTA International Award for Best Actress

· Meryl Streep. The Iron Lady

AACTA International Award for Best Film

· The Artist. Thomas Langmann

AACTA congratulates all inaugural Samsung AACTA Award recipients.

Video highlights and photographs from the Ceremony will be available at www.aacta.org by the end of the week.

AFIciaonados – Your Choice, Your Voice…

Now that the six nominees for the AFI Members’ Choice Award have been decided, we’ve been calling all AFI film aficionados* to submit a 200 word max response on why you thought these films were Australia’s best.

*aficiaonado – a person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a usually fervently pursued interest or activity.

award-nominees-best-film

In the countdown to the announcement of the winner of the AFI Members’ Choice Award on 15 January at the Samsung AACTA Awards Luncheon, presented by Digital Pictures, we will be profiling two of the six nominated films per week on our blog, along with the best member responses on why you voted for them. This week we’re profiling The Eye of the Storm and The Hunter.

The Eye of the Storm

The Eye of the Storm

“The real feeling in this film was conveyed by the slowing down of the pace of the film to match the dying mother. Geoffrey Rush played the role of the greedy son to perfection.”
– AFI member Monica Jacomb, VIC.

“You could hardly get together a more sterling cast for an Australian film than The Eye of the Storm. Judy Davis, Geoffrey Rush and Charlotte Rampling all deliver brilliantly nuanced performances under the assured hand of Fred Schepisi’s direction. Add to that some outstanding production and costume design that evokes both 1970s Sydney and an aristocratic world gone by, and you’ve got a costume drama that can stand up to the best of its British cousins.”
– AFI member Michael Stokes, QLD.

The Hunter

The Hunter

“With its stunning cinematography, sweeping shots and spine-tingling vistas The Hunter captures the sublimity of the Tasmanian wilderness with poignancy and panache.”
– AFI member Lucy Manning, NSW.

“Loved it! It was moving, engaging and beautiful to watch. What wonderful performances by a suite of great actors! I’d like to give particular mention to the two youngsters, Morgana Davies and Finn Woodlock…superb!”
– AFI member Jim Trawley, WA.

Next week we’ll be lavishing love on Mad Bastards and Oranges and Sunshine. Don’t miss out on winning a DVD pack of the top six Best Film Nominees for the AFI Audience Choice Award, send in your response today!

Entry Details:
Submit your entry (along with your AFI member number, full name and state in the subject line) to competition@afi.org.au
**Conditions apply: in order to have your response published you need to be an active  AFI member and be willing to have your full name and state disclosed on the AFI Blog **
Thanks to Madman Entertainment and Paramount Pictures for providing DVD copies of the films for our lucky winners!

Riding the Storm: An Interview with Fred Schepisi

By Rochelle Siemienowicz

Flicking through the incredible photo archives from past AFI events, you’re bound to come across some wonderful photos of Fred Schepisi attending, and winning awards, at long-ago AFI Awards ceremonies. A particularly memorable image (see below) from 1976 shows Schepisi holding the  AFI Award for Best Film for The Devil’s Playground. And while you may mock the design of the statuette that year (just look at the thing!) there’s no doubt that Schepisi is one of our most serious filmmakers, a true pioneer and veteran of the Australian new wave. Still going strong at the age of 71, his work includes important Australian films like The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) and Evil Angels (1988), and US films like Roxanne (1987), Russia House (1990) and Six Degrees of Separation (1993), as well as the Golden Globe and Emmy nominated TV mini series Empire Falls (2005) .

Key Art Eye of the StormIt’s been 23 years since Schepisi last directed an Australian film, though this hasn’t been for want of trying. Many a project has almost come to fruition, but has then fallen through in the final stages of financing limbo. Happily, Schepisi’s return to the Australian landscape looks like a triumphal one, with his latest feature film The Eye of the Storm, pleasing both critics and festival audiences ahead of its Australian release today (15 September, 2011). Screen Daily has called The Eye of the Storm ‘a classy production with a distinctly European feel’, while The Hollywood Reporter praises it as ‘intelligent and visually sumptuous’. The programmer’s notes for the Toronto International Film Festival (where the film screens this month in special presentation), aptly describes it as ‘cinematic chamber music…filled with the wisdom about what happens when a parent dies’.

An adaptation of Patrick White’s novel of the same name, about a dying Sydney matriarch and her two squabbling middle-aged children, The Eye of the Storm is certainly a ‘classy production’. Beautifully lensed by Director of Photography Ian Baker, with a score by Paul Grabowsky, the film features impeccable production design by Melinda Doring, recreating the upper crust world of wealthy 1970s Sydney. But the most visible ‘class act’ in the film comes from the trio of seasoned powerhouse actors in the lead roles. Charlotte Rampling plays the formidable and sexually voracious mother (both in her older and sprightlier years) and Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis play her vain, insecure and desperate-for-love offspring. For all its tragic elements, the sharp wit of the screenplay and the sly performances make the film more of a comedy. It’s a sparkling drama for grownups – the kind we crave in these days of teen-bait blockbusters.

A powerhouse acting trio: Judy Davis, Charlotte Rampling and Geoffrey Rush.

Fred Schepisi recently gave an illuminating and extensive interview to the AFI, and you can read it below. He gives clues as to why he’s well known as an actor’s director. (Remember, this is a man who has directed two actresses in Oscar® nominated performances – Meryl Streep in Evil Angels, and Stockard Channing in Six Degrees of Separation). He’s also candidly critical about what he sees as the ‘international disease’ of trying to make intelligent films on extremely low budgets. Looking back over his extensive career, he also reflects on the the fact that although increasing years bring greater confidence and equanimity, it’s still a case of starting from scratch with each new project. Fortunately, he finds this exciting rather than daunting.

AFI: You have a marvelous cast in this film, particularly with the three leads – Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling and Judy Davis. Were these always the actors you had in mind?

Fred Schepisi:  When you’re putting a film together, you have your dream list of actors, and we pretty much got them. What am I saying? We didn’t ‘pretty much’ get them. We did! And not just the leads, but the rest of the cast too – Robyn Nevin, Helen Morse, John Gaden and all of them.

AFI: Your daughter, Alexandra Schepisi, has a central role in the film as a pretty young nurse who becomes the lover of the much older character played by Geoffrey Rush. Did this pose challenges for you as a director?

Fred Schepisi:  Yes, it was challenging, but more in the casting stages . The last time I directed Alex she was 18 months old, and she was the baby who was shot in Jimmie Blacksmith – we didn’t let her see that obviously, until she was much older! In this case, it was a difficult decision. I didn’t want to put her in a hard position and I didn’t want to put myself in a hard position. The main creative people on the film tested her, along with a number of other actors, and they said I’d be mad not to cast her. We had all these rules about how we would behave on set – that she wouldn’t call me ‘Dad’ etc., but that shit went out the window after about three days. It didn’t really matter. It became like any other working relationship. Although, I did notice that Geoffrey was very careful in the love scenes!”

Geoffrey Rush and Fred Schepisi on set of The Eye Of The Storm

Geoffrey Rush and Fred Schepisi on set of 'The Eye Of The Storm'.

AFI: Many actors who’ve worked with you have commented that you’re very calm to work with – a very calming person on set – and that this is unusual for directors.

Fred Schepisi: It shouldn’t be unsual! I don’t know if I’m calm, but the actors have a very difficult job to do. Ian Baker, the Director of Photography on this film, is aware of this too, and he’s incredibly good. I let him do this bit; he trains the crew to know when to start quietening down and when to let the focus shift from the stuff they’re doing to the actors, to create a situation where the actors can give it their best. You’re trying to create a situation where the actors know they won’t be pressured or embarrassed. They should never be made to feel that there are time constraints – though they do feel that, naturally. The actors have a real job to do. They’ve got to pull something out of the air, out of nowhere, and they’ve got to be that person. And my job is to help them get to that place – either by talking or not talking, by standing next to them and vibrating sometimes, or giving them a smile or not. Everybody requires something different. I don’t think you should work any other way. The whole business of standing off behind a monitor and shouting instructions, that’s not me at all!

AFI: This is the first screen adaptation of a Patrick White novel. Is there a good reason for that?

Fred Schepisi: I think there was a play that was done – The Night, The Prowler – but this is the first feature of a novel. Patrick White’s work is rich and complex, and some people find it difficult. But he’s got a lot of ideas, a lot of richness and unusual styles. His stories are very large, but they’re very good. He’s our only Nobel Prize winning author and there’s a reason for that. I certainly got a greater appreciation for his talent by going deeper into this particular book.

AFI: Can you talk about the adaptation process, and what’s been left out or emphasised from the novel?

Fred Schepisi: Well, the novel is 600 pages, so if you think about it in film time, you can only really use about a 100-page length. Patrick White goes off into reveries and follows characters all over the place. What the screenwriter Judy Morris did – and she did a brilliant job too – is distill it down to the essence and get it focused on the family, which is the main drive, and then support that in a way with the other characters so that you get some of the complexity of the novel.

AFI: In the press notes for this film, you are quoted as saying that people working in Australia get used to working on lower and lower and lower budgets, and that they start to unconsciously make excuses for the quality of the work. In contrast, you talk about how your investors understood that The Eye of the Storm needed to have a certain budget to tell the story properly. Would you care to expand on that?

'To tell some stories properly, and really energise them, takes money...and this is a period film which always costs more to create.' Fred Schepisi

Fred Schepisi: Trying to make intelligent films on extremely low budgets is a worldwide disease. To tell some stories properly, and really energise them, takes money. In this case it’s a story set in a rich person’s world, so you need a certain budget to do that. Some low budget films are great, but every film can’t be like that. I wanted to make a film of a certain quality, with a certain film grammar – a film with a lot of locations, some CGI and it’s also a period film [set in the 1970s], which always costs more to create. Sometimes you just have to pay for it.

AFI: What kinds of excuses do you think are made in terms of low budget films?

Fred Schepisi: I’ll tell you two things. I remember years ago somebody making a film – I won’t name it because that would be nasty – but the acting was dreadful, the editing was dreadful. Well, the editing was dreadful because the coverage probably wasn’t there in the first place. The producer kept saying, ‘It’s really good for $1 million.’ And my answer was, ‘No, it’s not. If you don’t have real performances, you don’t have a real film. You don’t have anything. You’ve just wasted $1 million.’ It’s not just an Australian disease, it’s a worldwide disease where there are lower and lower budgets for intelligent work. Now, if you’re George Clooney and you’re making Good Night, and Good Luck, well that’s different. And you’re not having to pay for George Clooney! I’m not knocking it – that’s a great film, but it kind of distorts things and the money people look at that example and think that’s what’s possible. It gets worse and worse, and it’s universal. However, there is a particular form of the disease here in Australia. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked, ‘When are you coming back to Australia and sinking your teeth into a nice, low-budget movie?’ Now when did low-budget become synonymous with art? It’s not! Low-budget is suffering, and doing it on the cheap and not paying properly for people’s time, and only making films about certain subjects. Sometimes it takes a certain budget to reach a certain quality.

AFI: Are you allowed to say what the budget was? The IMDB figure says $15 million. Is that anywhere near the mark?

Fred Schepisi: Okay. Yep, that’ll do. Really, in a way, physically it was a lot less than that, but that’s ok.

AFI: Your struggles to get certain projects up have been widely reported – and you even said that if you wrote your autobiography you’d call it…

Fred Schepisi: …The Films I Didn’t Get To Make! Yes. That would be a boring book. I once gave a talk at the Hawthorn Football Club, some big lunch. I made the mistake of telling them what it was really like, making films. It wasn’t what they wanted to hear. I thought they were business people so they might be interested, but they weren’t.

AFI: How do you cope with the setbacks, the news that something isn’t going to happen after all?

Fred Schepisi:  You try to steel yourself and protect yourself against disappointment and you try not to hope too much, but there are times when you’ve passed the point and made an emotional commitment and financial commitments, and when it goes wrong, that really, really cuts deep and it takes you a little while to recover from that. But you do get over it.

AFI: Does the whole process of making films get easier with experience?

Fred Schepisi: You learn how to avoid panicking when various things happen, and when something seems like an impossible task, you know you will prevail, because you have prevailed in the past. Unfortunately, you can rarely apply the specific experience learnt in one project to the next one. Each film has its own world and that dictates the style and logic of it, so you have to start from scratch. But I like to be nervous and uncertain, and actually learn something new. I actually like that challenge.

AFI: What is the most pleasurable phase of making a film for you?

Fred Schepisi: They’re all different. I tend to think of each section as an end in itself. Getting the script right. Then there’s the pre-production – casting, getting everything right, rehearsing. Rehearsing for me is also going into the wardrobe and being with the actors when they’re trying things on, because the clothes are so important to the character. And there’s the location surveys. In those early stages, everything seems possible, and then you gradually narrow things down. And then there’s the shooting which is incredibly pressured, but a lot of fun. I like the interraction, the intensity of it. I like the time spent with the actors, and the time spent with the crew – who seldom get the credit they deserve. They’re there with you, working towards the same end, and they enlighten you, help you see the jewel from another facet, if you like.  The electricians, the grips, the hair and makeup, the DOP, you’re all working together. I love that.

AFI: Can you talk about working with your editor, Kate Williams? This is her fourth film editing for you, so you must have a good rapport?

Fred Schepisi: Sure, yes! I make a lot of editing decisions when I’m shooting and preparing, but it’s very organic. You make the most of each scene, and every scene belongs to every other scene. I’m constantly talking to the editor and going through the rushes. It’s a very ongoing process, so you require a lot of patience and input from your editor. Sometimes they don’t agree with you, and sometimes you get into the odd wrangle, but it’s a good wrangle!

AFI: Sometimes you need people to argue with you?

Fred Schepisi: In a way I want everyone to do that, but I want them to do it knowing what the intention is. And in the end, there has to be one guiding voice. And guess who’s voice that is? It’s the director’s!

AFI: Thanks for being so generous with your time.

The Eye Of The Storm is in national release through Paramount/Transmission from 15 September, 2011. You can also visit Fred Schepisi’s website for wonderful pictures, links and interviews. The Eye of the Storm is one of the 22 feature films in competition for the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards.

Fred Schepisi at the AFI Awards

1976

Fred Schepisi in 1976, with AFI Award for Best Film for 'The Devil's Playground'.

Won – AFI Award for Best Direction – The Devil’s Playground
Won – AFI Award for Best Film – The Devil’s Playground
Won – AFI Award for Best Screenplay – Original or Adapted -The Devil’s Playground

1978
Nominated – AFI Award for Best Director – The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
Nominated – AFI Award for Best Film – The Chant of Jimmie Blackmith
Nominated – AFI Award for Best Screenplay, Adapted – The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

1989
Won – AFI Award for Best Director – Evil Angels
Won – AFI Award for Best Screenplay, Adapted – Evil Angels (shared with Robert Caswell)

1991
Won – Raymond Longford Award

For more information and pictures of past winners of AFI Awards, visit this section of the new AACTA website.

Video Highlights from the launch of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts

The new Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts was  launched on Thursday 18 August, overlooking the stunning Sydney Opera House – which will be the iconic venue for the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards in January 2012.

Also announced, the identity of the founding President of AACTA, Mr Geoffrey Rush. The beautiful new statuette, designed by sculptor Ron Gomboc, has also been unveiled, held aloft, and much admired. Isn’t it beautiful? Don’t you just want to hold it?

Below are some video highlights from the night. We invite you to share in the excitement and raise a toast to celebrate a brand new era in Australian screen history.

In this first clip, see stars walking the red carpet and working the media wall; fireworks exploding over the Opera House; and the announcement of the new President, Geoffrey Rush.

Below, the always inspiring AFI Patron, Dr George Miller, gives a wonderful speech, praising the AFI for “being a home” for the screen industry for the past 53 years, and introducing the new President as an examplar of the pursuit of excellence for which the Academy has been formed.

The undoubted highlight of the evening was Geoffrey Rush’s hugely entertaining and funny speech, where he made his first pronouncements as ‘Prez’ –  “You’d be an idiot if you didn’t recognise that Australian artists, both in front of and in so many categories behind the camera are among the world’s finest.” He holds the golden ‘baby’ and calls for a ‘competish’ to name the beauty. A must-watch clip:

And finally, some of the most important news of the awards calendar, the announcement of the 23 Feature Films in Competition for the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards. Here’s a trailer compilation that’s sure to make you keen to see the ones you’ve missed, and revisit the ones you’ve seen already:

These 23 feature films, along with the nominees for Best Short Fiction, Best Feature Length Documentary and Best Short Animation will be shown on the big screen at the AFI/Samsung AACTA Festival of Film to be held in Sydney and Melbourne from early October.

For more information about all of these developments, visit the sparkling new website: www.aacta.org

For a gallery of photos from the AACTA launch, visit the AFI Facebook page here.

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