Video Interviews with Winners in the Media Room

What a night it was! Whether you watched the broadcast of the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony on the Nine Network on Tuesday 31 January, or whether you were lucky enough to be in attendance at the Sydney Opera House, there was entertainment in abundance – the fabulous spectacle of the red carpet, musical numbers by some of Australia’s finest entertainers, and a terric Afterparty blessed with only an exciting sprinkle of rain.

But of course at the heart of it all, the reason for the Ceremony’s very existence, were the awards themselves – the announcement of this year’s winners. Congratulations again to all the winners of the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards.

Back stage, the winners were escorted to the media room where they spoke to journalists and had their official photographs taken.

These interviews on the media room stage were sometimes breathless (there are a lot of stairs in the Sydney Opera House!), candid, and offered a great chance for the winners to talk in more depth about the characters and shows they brought to our screens in the past year. It’s well worth a visit to our YouTube site to see these interviews with the winners and click through to the ones you’re most interested in. Here’s just a taste, with an interview with Best Lead Actor winner Daniel Henshall, who picked up the AACTA Award for his performance in the grimly impressive Snowtown.

For more interviews, check out the Australian Film Institute | AACTA Youtube site.

AFIcionados – 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.

*aficionado – 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 this Sunday 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 RED DOG and Snowtown.

Red Dog

RED DOG

RED DOG

“You’ve gotta love a tear-jerker, desert shots and a great underDOG story. RED DOG was the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in a long time!”
– AFI member Jason Rooney, WA.

RED DOG’s fresh and heartwarming take on what its like living in a small mining town in Western Australia has definitely caught the public’s imagination. I’d say there’s nothing like a cheeky kelpie to unite a nation!”
– AFI member Brendan Smythe, QLD.

Snowtown

Snowtown

Snowtown

Snowtown is heartbreaking and hopeless but absolutely captivating. I was glued to the screen. They were some of the most powerful and deeply disturbing performances I have ever seen. ”
– AFI member Rosie Piper, TAS.

“Australian arthouse cinema at its best! Snowtown is evocative, provocative and mind numbingly horrifying. It simultaneously entices and repels its audience by capturing in stunning detail every horrendous moment.”
– AFI member Lucy Fraser, VIC.

Thank you to all members who participated in our AFIcionado’s Audience Choice Award competition. Your responses have been invaluable.

**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 Roadshow Films for providing DVD copies of these films for our lucky winners!

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 have been 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 Mad Bastards and Oranges and Sunshine.

 

Mad Bastards

Mad Bastards

Mad Bastards

Mad Bastards…poignant and powerful, set to the playful Pigram Brothers’ lively tunes!
– AFI member Phil Lesley, NSW.

“Dean Dayley-Jones is remarkable as T.J. He brings humour and pathos to this broken character and reaffirms the remarkable power of self-discovery. Mad Bastards is well worth watching!”
– AFI member Jane Deans, ACT.

 

Oranges and Sunshine

Oranges and Sunshine

Oranges and Sunshine

Oranges and Sunshine is a beautiful rendition of a heartwarming story about the vision and compassion of an exceptional woman. Wenham, Watson and Weaving are truly magnificent. It is another priceless period piece from the talented producers of The King’s Speech.
– AFI member Mary Edwards, VIC.

“Putting the spotlight on a rarely discussed aspect of Australian and British colonial history, Oranges and Sunshine tells a horrifying story with sensitivity and avoids all sensationalism.  Emily Watson gives an understated, yet powerful performance in the lead role and she is surrounded by an outstanding support cast. Particularly, Hugo Weaving, who shines in a heart-breaking performance that’s his best in years. The film doesn’t provide an easy catharsis and closure, but it still comes to a conclusion that leaves its mark on the viewer.
– AFI member Simone Richards, NSW.

Next week we’ll be lavishing love on Red Dog and Snowtown. 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 Icon Entertainment and Paramount Pictures for providing DVD copies of the films for our lucky winners!

Reviews Wrap

Here’s a quick taste of what some reviewers said about recently released Australian feature films. Please note that these do not reflect the views of the AFI; we’re aiming to represent just a smattering of opinions and views from various sources. You’ll make up your own mind, of course!

Mrs Carey’s Concert

Mrs Carey's Concert key artBob Connolly and Sophie Raymond’s observational documentary about a high school music teacher may well be the surprise Australian hit of the year. The self-distributed film, which opened this year’s BigPond Adelaide Film Festival, is not only performing well at the limited release box office (more than $500,000 to date), it’s also being universally praised by critics and reviewers. David Stratton and Margararet Pomeranz from At the Movies describe it as “a rounded and very satisfying film that is both hugely entertaining and incredibly inspirational,” giving it four and a half stars and four stars respectively. Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, Sandra Hall also gives Mrs Carey’s Concert four and a half stars, praising Connolly’s “patience and unobtrusiveness” which result in a film that’s “well worth every exhilarating minute.” The Age’s Jake Wilson  gives high praise, writing that Mrs Carey’s Concert “transcends its “inspirational” format to rank as the best Australian film so far this year.” Filmink’s Cara Nash calls the film “absorbing and revealing” and “nothing short of compelling”, using the Filmink ratings system to value the film at $17 out of a possible $20. Writing for Onya magazine, Glenn Dunks has only one qualm, observing that “a sequence in which Mrs Carey loses a folder of sheet music feels artificial and unnecessary.”  In the end however, he finds the film to be “a wonderful experience to witness.” (Interested in finding out more about Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond? Click through to read our recent interview with them.)

Mad Bastards

Mad Bastards key artFilmed and set within Indigenous communities  in the amazingly picturesque Kimberley region of WA, Mad Bastards impressed at Sundance where it premiered earlier this year. Directed by Brendan Fletcher, and featuring the musical talents of the Pigram Brothers (who also acted as producers on the film), Mad Bastards is a musical journey following three generations of Aboriginal men who find their way out of the cycle of violence. Thomas Caldwell, writing for The Big Issue magazine (review reproduced on the Cinema Autopsy blog) gave the film four stars and announced that “Mad Bastards is simply Australia’s most impressive film since Animal Kingdom.” Helen Garner, writing in the May 2011 edition of The Monthly writes that “Mad Bastards is a work of serious maturity and grace. It reminded me of something that Plato said about art – that it should be ‘like a wind from excellent places, bringing health.”

Writing for the SBS Film website, Michelle Orange found the musical interludes intrusive, arguing that director Brendan Fletcher’s “over-reliance on score sets up an avoidant rhythm that begins to feel like a lack of narrative confidence.” Ultimately though, Orange finds much to like about the film, and writes that in it’s final climactic scene, “the privileging of tableau over dialogue feels just right.” Quickflix critic Simon Miraudo gives Mad Bastards four out of five stars, and despite admitting to hating films which conclude with footage of real subjects, Miraudo acknowledges that it works here, and that “Mad Bastards is an involving tribute to – and exciting evolution of – Australian storytelling.”

Writing for the Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Jim Schembri awards Mad Bastards four and a half stars out of five, writing that it “bravely explores a host of hot-button issues with a deft blending of humour, sensitivity and often brutal frankness.” Andrew L. Urban over at Urban Cinefile writes that the film “understated in its redemptive message, much like Samson and Delilah was, and while it has a few clunky storytelling moments, it’s an engaging and touching film.”

Snowtown

Snowtown key artCertainly the most controversial Australian release of the year so far, Justin Kurzel’s feature directorial debut Snowtown is based on the brutal serial killings known as the ‘bodies in the barrels’ cases, which occurred in Adelaide in the 1990s. Winner of the 2011 Adelaide Film Festival’s Audience Award (where it had its Australian premiere) and selected for Critics’ Week at Cannes (where it received a special mention by the Jury President), Snowtown is currently dividing audiences and critics – though everyone seems to agree that Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography and Jed Kurzel’s musical score are beyond reproach. 

One of the most rapturous responses to the film surely came from Clem Bastow at The Vine, who awarded Snowtown five out of  five stars and wrote that despite its grimness, the film is “an incredible piece of cinema and a devastating, poetic work of storytelling.” Crikey blogger Luke Buckmaster over at Cinetology was similarly blown away, praising the “airtight sense of verisimilitude maintained by unwavering directorial focus,” and calling it the “most frightening Australian film ever made, and a great piece of art.”  

Both Louise Keller and Andrew L. Urban of Urban Cinefile commended the strong performances of the actors in the film and agreed that the film succeeded in creating an undeniably tense atmosphere, yet Keller’s admission that she ” left the cinema feeling repulsed and downtrodden at the sombre world depicted, from which not even a little piece of blue sky can be seen,” is one echoed my many viewers, including Helen Garner, who admitted in The Monthly that the film left her despairing and nauseated.  The Adelaide based Anders Wotzke of Cut Print Review commends director Justin Kurzel’s naturalistic direction, but argues that the grisly film “struggles to build an emotional rapport with its audience.” Both Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton from the ABC’s At the Movies  praised the impressive acting performances on screen, but found the setup confusing and worried at the film’s lack of “moral centre”. The debate continues, and audiences seem keen to check it out for themselves, with the film’s strong performance on the limited box office charts. (Interested in learning more about the actors in Snowtown? Click through to read our interviews with Daniel Henshall, Lucas Pittaway and Louise Harris.)

Check out these films on the big screen now, while they’re in the cinemas, and feel free to drop back and leave your comments and opinions.

Next week, our Reviews Wrap will take in the crowdfunded film The Tunnel, available freely on torrent; Beck Cole’s Here I Am, and Mark Lewis’s 3D creature feature documentary Cane Toads: The Conquest.