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Imported actors issue rumbles on

5 hours ago

Actor Roy Billing launched the campaign calling for the relaxation of restrictions on casting overseas actors in Australian screen productions, and he.s not giving up.

Billing has received support from all sectors of the screen industry, including fellow actors, since his op-ed piece ran on If on September 17.

.Five weeks on and the support continues unabated,. he said today. .Initially I received many emails and phone calls and now as I interact with my colleagues as a working actor I am getting face-to-face support. The issue is still very much alive in the screen sector..

Billing questions why his union Actors Equity appears to be ignoring the issue, apart from an op-ed article from newly appointed Equity director Zoe Angus, which, he says, failed to address the issues he raised.

.There has not been one mention of my stance in Equity e-bulletins so the majority of rank and file »

- Don Groves

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Australia’s film industry owes a debt to Gough Whitlam

6 hours ago

By Ben Goldsmith, Queensland University of Technology

Filmmakers and audiences . indeed Australian arts and screen culture more broadly . owe a deep debt of gratitude to Gough Whitlam and the government he led.

Although the foundations had been laid by Whitlam.s predecessors John Gorton and Billy McMahon, the Australian film revival of the 1970s only really took shape after Whitlam became Prime Minister in 1972. Whitlam.s government established the Australian Film and Television School (Aftrs) in 1973; included a Film and Television Board as one of the initial specialist panels in the new Australia Council for the Arts; and replaced Gorton.s film support agency, the Australian Film Development Corporation (Afdc), with the Australian Film Commission (Afc) in 1975.

In contrast to the Afdc, the new Commission prioritised cultural and artistic merit over the prospect of economic success in their funding decisions. For the first time, filmmakers were provided with substantial financial backing. »

- Ben Goldsmith, Senior Research Fellow at Quee

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The Dressmaker rolls

7 hours ago

Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth and Hugo Weaving star in The Dressmaker, a tale of love, revenge and haute couture now shooting at Docklands Studios..

The ensemble cast includes Caroline Goodall, Shane Bourne, Kerry Fox, Rebecca Gibney, Sacha Horler, Shane Jacobson, Alison Whyte, Genevieve Lemon and Sarah Snook.

There have been two changes in the cast since it was first anounced in Cannes. Elizabeth Debicki dropped out to play the lead in the Foxtel drama The Kettering Incident, replaced by Sacha Horler. And Isla Fisher dropped out and Sarah Snook took her role. .

Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and based on the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker is a bittersweet comedy set in 1950s Australia.

Tilly Dunnage (Winslet) is a beautiful and talented misfit who after many years working as a dressmaker in Parisian fashion houses returns home to Dungatar - a fictional rural town - to right some wrongs of the past. »

- Don Groves

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Waiting for August named best international feature doc

9 hours ago

Romanian director Teodora Ana Mihai.s Waiting for August won the best international feature doc prize at the Antenna Documentary Film Festival.

Christopher Houghton.s Sons & Mothers was named best Australian doc with an honourable mention to David Fedele.s The Land Between.

Ghost Train took the prize for best Australian short with an honourable mention for Jilli Rose.s Sticky.

Waiting for August follows Georgiana Halmac, who lives with her six siblings in a social housing block on the outskirts of Bacău, Romania.

Turning 15, she has no time for teenage dreams when her mother Liliana is forced to leave her family to find work in Torino and will not be back until summer.

As the eldest Georgiana is left in charge of her siblings. Caught between puberty and responsibilities, she improvises parenting advice gathered from the television and the occasional phone call from her mother.

The film won the »

- Don Groves

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Fest prizes for Canopy, Healing, Galore

14 hours ago

Aaron Wilson.s WW2 drama Canopy won the jury grand prize and Craig Monahan.s Healing took the audience award at the 16th annual St Tropez Antipodes Film Festival. Rhys Graham.s Galore collected the prize for best female talent for Ashleigh Cummings and Lily Sullivan. Brett Stewart was named best male talent for Everything We Loved, the debut feature from Kiwi writer-director Max Currie. The drama revolves around a magician and his wife who look for a replacement child after their young son dies suddenly. There was a special mention for Galore.s Toby Wallace. The jury headed by Fred Schepisi awarded the best short prize to Miranda Edmonds and Khrob Edmonds. Tango Underpants. Stephen Lance.s My Mistress and Zak Hilditch.s These Final Hours also screened in competition. Wilson has been hosting Q&A screenings of Canopy in Us cinemas. The film is released on home entertainment in Australia this week. »

- Don Groves

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Son of a Gun misfires at Oz cinemas

19 October 2014 9:08 PM, PDT

Margaret Pomeranz thoroughly enjoyed Son of a Gun while David Stratton reckoned it was competent and mostly well shot but highly improbable, peopled with uniformly unlikable characters.

To the extent that At the Movies influences moviegoing, it seems viewers took far more notice of Stratton.s 2½ stars than Pomeranz.s 3½ stars judging by the opening weekend results.

The debut film from writer-director Julius Avery fetched nearly $65,000 on 53 screens and $69,000 with previews. That suggests there wasn.t a lot of awareness for the crime thriller starring Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites (rightly hailed by Pomeranz as a .great talent.) and Alicia Vikander.

Either that or audiences are not interested in dark, depressing stories with no-good or shady characters after four or five Oz films in that vein underperformed at Australian cinemas this year.

Another possible factor, as If.s commentators have canvassed, is the Australian cinema brand has been tarnished to the »

- Don Groves

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Kidman and Firth a mismatch

19 October 2014 8:01 PM, PDT

Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman were terrific as a long-married couple who overcame adversity in The Railway Man but Australian audiences aren.t buying their latest on-screen pairing.

Before I Go to Sleep casts Kidman as a 40-year-old woman who wakes up every day with a blank memory. Firth is her husband who tells her they.ve been married for 14 years and Mark Strong is her neuro-psychologist who encourages her to keep a daily video diary so she can help rebuild her life.

The thriller directed by Rowan Joffe, adapted from S. J. Watson.s best-selling novel, may not have sent audiences to sleep but relatively few bothered to turn up as the film fetched $418,000 on a very wide 194 screens.

Nationwide takings dropped by 16% to $9.7 million as none of the other newcomers much enthused cinemagoers, according to Rentrak.s weekend estimates. Distributors say the market is soft and especially shallow below the top three titles. »

- Don Groves

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New date for Interactive, Multiplatform, Narrative Games Lab

19 October 2014 6:19 PM, PDT

The Platform X 2014: Interactive, Multiplatform & Narrative Games Development Lab will be held in Sydney on December 4. As part of the 2014 Platform X Initiative, the Australian Writers. Guild in partnership with Storycode: Sydney, will give five writers a one-day intensive story lab to develop their ideas into coherent, focused, effective pitch presentations and short documents to take forward for further development.

At the end of the lab, each participant will have a pitch, a succinct and compelling concept synopsis, a plan for next steps and developed ideas for concept art.

The Awg is looking for exciting and dramatically engaging storyworlds that have the potential to manifest across platforms old, new and interactive.

The lab will be run by experienced digital media practitioners:

. Mike Jones - a writer and creative producer working across screen, page and digital media. . Ester Harding - a multiplatform producer with experience across film, broadcast, interactive and transmedia productions. »

- Press release

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Cinema-on-demand takes off

19 October 2014 5:30 PM, PDT

The initial results on films pitched to Australian moviegoers via cinema-on-demand platform Tugg, either as an exclusive offering or in combination with conventional distribution, have been encouraging. The co-venture between the Us-based Tugg and David Doepel.s Leap Frog Films has been holding screenings in Australia since March at Event Cinemas, Hoyts, Reading and independent cinemas around the country. Pinnacle will utilise the scheme, which enables moviegoers to select a title from a library and organise screenings at participating cinemas, for the release of Decoding Annie Parker.. Steven Bernstein.s drama is based on true events which chronicles two remarkable women: Annie Parker, a three time cancer survivor, and geneticist Mary-Claire King, whose discovery of the breast cancer Brca gene mutation was one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century. Louise Wadley.s All About E (formerly The Trouble With E), a lesbian love story/ road trip/ thriller that follows a beautiful, »

- Don Groves

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