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.

Alan Finney’s Cannes Report #3

Philippe Mora and Alan Finney at Cannes 2011

Filmmaker Philippe Mora, left, and Alan Finney catch up at Cannes 2011.

AFI Chair Alan Finney attended the 2011 Cannes Film Festival (11 – 22 May) as a producer and member of the Australian film contingent. As an industry insider since the 1960s, as a filmmaker, distributor and exhibitor, Finney has been to Cannes many times before. This year Alan sent back snapshots, impressions and memories. In this third and final report, he reflects on the state of the international market and on how other territories, particularly the French, manage their business. He checks in with Philippe Mora, makes some observations on piracy, and recommends a couple of fascinating new documentaries.

You can catch the previous Cannes Reports, #1 here or #2 here. Read on for the final installment…

It’s pretty obvious that there’s a feeling out on the streets of Cannes that this has been a strong market (as opposed to a Festival which I’ll leave others to judge).

Plenty of films, together with enthusiastic buyers in a highly competitive mode, and newly emerging markets in Russia and Latin America have resulted in a litany of good deals, a somewhat surprising result given the recent softness of international theatrical performance and declining DVD performance.

Also, of course, China is discussed as one of the growing and increasingly valuable markets. Importation and censorship controls are being addressed and whilst China is not alone in imposing limits on non-domestic films, its quota regime is among the world’s tightest.

The shared opinion seems to be that the rules are changing, though one producer expressed the opinion that a US sale is just as important as it was in the past, because if a film fails in the US it will impact negatively on its business in the rest of the world.

Of course it wouldn’t be the film industry without someone casting doubt on the upbeat mood with the Hollywood Reporter commenting : “While some are hailing this year as a return to the pre-crisis glory days – ‘extraordinary’, ‘huge’ and ‘best-ever’ were the most used adjectives amongst sales heavyweights – there remains the big question of whether Cannes’ hot pre-sale titles, when delivered, can deliver at the box office.”

A Glance at the French Case

Learning how other territories manage their business is always interesting and attending a forum on film and television, I learnt that in 2010, French television contributed 400 million Euros to the French Film Industry. I hope I didn’t hear that incorrectly!

The last time I checked, the French system for financing films seemed unique in Europe:

  • French theatres must show French films for a minimum number of weeks each year;
  • Major TV channels must allocate 3.2% of their turnover to cinema as co-producer (including at least 2.5% to French films);
  • They must broadcast a minimum of 50% of French films and Canal Plus, a very popular pay channel must devote 20% of its turnover to buy the rights of films (12% European minimum including 9% French minimum);
  • On each cinema ticket, an 11% tax is allocated to the “Fonds de Soutien’, which is open to foreign films provided they are co-produced with a French producer.

 At a producers’ breakfast meeting, one speaker told of some buyers making offers based on the Internet Movie Database (IMD) ratings…. a rather strange way to make commercial projections I would have thought.

Anticipating Dali

Salvador Dali and Alan Cumming

Salvador Dali, left, and Alan Cumming, the actor who plays him in Philippe Mora's upcoming 3D biopic, 'Dali'.

I also had a great catch-up with an old friend Philippe Mora who is in Cannes getting buyers excited about his next film Dali, a 3D biopic which will star Alan Cumming as the surrealist artist, and Judy Davis as his wife Gala. This I want to see! You can read more about this fascinating project over at Indiewire.

Piracy

Piracy is also a topic that pops up frequently in conversations and over recent years AFACT (Australian Federation against Copyright Theft) has had a hard fight against Internet Service Providers and hopefully recent news will encourage them to keep up the fight.

The US entertainment industry has thrown its weight behind proposed legislation that would give law enforcement officials and others new authority to move against internet sites that traffic in copyright material without permission. The Bill was introduced Thursday into the US Senate and is called the Protect IP Act, for intellectual property, and it will take aim at foreign-owned sites that trade in pirated material by allowing US authorities to seek court orders directing domestic internet service providers, search engines and others to stop doing business with them.

Alan’s Documentary Picks

Documentary films were also a big topic this year at Cannes. According to a very interesting article in movieScope Magazine, “we live in a golden age of documentary. Worldwide, more docs are being made by more people about more subjects than ever before. The Internet has democratised distribution and marketing.”

Whilst I am leaving movie reviews to others, there are two films I recommend you look out for, two  docos that are very different, but both intriguing.

Roger Corman at Cannes 2011

Roger Corman, centre, attends the premiere of documentary 'Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel' at Cannes 2011.

First, Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel. It was well worth standing in line for over an hour along with hundreds of Roger Corman fans to see this movie! I not only remember Corman’s films from late 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s,but also ushered at some of them in Melbourne, and then was later involved in marketing others in the early days of Roadshow Distributors.

For those unfamliar with Roger Corman’s unique career, he began in 1949 with a job at 20th Century Fox and worked his way up to become a story analyst but after he received no credit for notes he made on a screenplay he abandoned the Studio path and started “no Budget” films. His first film was Monster from the Ocean Floor in 1953 which led to a lengthy relationship with American International Pictures (AIP), where he produced and directed films for years. His films were always profitable so he accessed larger budgets and in the ’60s he developed a long string of Edgar Allen Poe adaptations. He made the first biker movie (Wild Angels) and the first “drug” movie (The Trip). Then there was The Intruder, a movie about integration in the South, but unable to find a financier willing to touch the subject, it was self-funded and self-produced. Corman later left AIP to form his own company, New World Pictures, which not only produced Corman signature entertainment but also distributed renowned foreign films in the US, helping to introduce American audiences to Kurosawa, Truffaut, Bergman, and Fellini. Corman then sold New World and formed Concorde-New Horizon which is still in business today.

Corman’s World contains interviews with some big Hollywood names, including Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich and Ron Howard. Roger and his wife Julie attended the screening and introduced the film as did Peter Fonda. The response from the crowd was enormous.

Conan O'Brien on tour in 'Conan O'Brien Can't Stop

Conan O'Brien on tour in the documentary 'Conan O'Brien Can't Stop'.

The second documentary I’d like to highlight, is Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, which follows  the former Tonight Show host on a  two-month, 32-city comedy-and-music variety-show tour (“Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television”) shortly after his split with NBC in 2010. His staff are key characters in the film such as Andy Richter, Jeff Ross and his ever-understanding assistant, Sona Movsesian and we catch up with stars such as Jim Carrey, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  The back-stage encounters with his team are funny and fascinating. Conan is obviously a complex and complicated person – but that’s what being a comic is all about.

Finally, back to the AFI….

Its also been good to chat with the Australians attending the Festival about the role of the AFI and the exciting challenges we face in making it relevant to all sectors of our very broad industry. Overall the filmmakers see value in the AFI as a body that can do more than just present awards once a year, and thankfully they seem willing to work with us in becoming an energetic and relevant organisation. The years ahead are going to hard work but it will be worth it.

Stay tuned for further developments.