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Sunday, 26 April 2015

By the numbers - some thoughts about Sydney cinephilia

The most popular venue in Sydney at the moment for viewing films presented in curated programmes and accompanied by quality programme notes is at the Art Gallery of New South Wales located on the edge of the city in Sydney's Domain. Presented on such a shoestring budget that the curator Robert Herbert is also the projectionist, the AGNSW presents a film program, of the same film or films twice on Wednesdays at 2.00 pm and 7.00 pm with another repeat screening on Sunday at 2.00 pm. By only observation I think the screenings average a couple of hundred attendees. Programmes are selected to accompany exhibitions at the Gallery and the curator is thus somewhat hamstrung in his choices. When the Archibald Prize exhibition is on, the film season will be 'Potraits' or the like. Currently, to accompany a major exhibition of Australian photography Robert has curated a season of Australian docos and features tilted "Brought to Light; Troublemakers, boat-rockers, trailblazers and whistleblowers." This lack of independence does mean that the AGNSW screenings have to operate in a lonely fashion. They are not shared and do not tour to other venues. Nor does the AGNSW allow itself to participate in any shows, touring to or programmed into ACMI in Melbourne, GOMA in Brisbane or any retrospectives  that may be presented by the major film festivals in other cities. It is a very restrictive remit and one which probably could have been abandoned long ago in favour of an independently selected and presented programme that gives greater freedom and allows for more cooperation with other institutions. Still the films presented regularly draw crowds that often go close to packing out the theatre. Admission is free and to get in you line up early to get a ticket and when the ticket allocation is gone that's it.

The American critic, curator and programmer Dave Kehr was recently in Australia attending, as part of his new day job as a Curator of Film at MoMA in New York, the International Conference of the Federation of International Film Archives (FIAF). He also extended his stay to host screenings in  Sydney and Melbourne. In Melbourne he screened a 35mm print of Raoul Walsh's Wild Girl (1932) and a DCP of Allan Dwan's  The Iron Mask .  279 people attended a screening hosted by the Melbourne Cinematheque. The next night at a screening in Sydney of The Iron Mask only around fifty people turned up for an event hosted by the Film Critics Circle of Australia at the AFTRS Theatre in Moore Park. The AFTRS Theatre has apparently not been certified to screen film archive prints and thus Wild Girl could not be shown. In Melbourne admission was confined to people who had either a full twelve months Cinematheque membership, or  used a mini - season  pass i.e. one that allow admission to three consecutive screenings.  Both of these are paid. In Sydney admission was free. 

Informed spectators have now explained to me, since this piece was first posted, a couple of things. First, the admission policy of three successive screenings on one ticket purchase ensures that this qualifies the screening as 'non-theatrical' the charge being for a 'membership' rather than a theatrical admission. Specifically it means that films can be screened, eg, from the NFSA's lending collection, without breaching the non-theatrical conditions of loan. A free public screening does not qualify, at least in the case of feature films. In these cases a clearance to use a library print is required from the distributor which generally involves paying a negotiated rental fee. Second, This arrangement gives advantageous access to some films at a cheaper or no licensing fee. It also helps prove their non profit bona fides to some film archives. As well, it does help attract audiences - whilst still price signalling that the screening has some value, compared to a free screening program. My informant suggests that this arrangement should be compared to that which occasionally applies at GoMA in Brisbane. That institution puts on free screenings and there is a tendency for audiences, apparently tolerated by the management, to wander in and out as if it's video art.

   
On Monday nights throughout the year, Sydney's Chauvel cinema screens a program ‘curated’ by a person employed by Palace Cinemas, the management. This is called, by the Chauvel, a Cinematheque. The prints used are 16mm copies supplied by the National Film Lending Service of the National Film & Sound Archive. The Chauvel does not otherwise have access to the NFSA's collection. Admission is paid and punters are required to buy a ticket which admits to three screenings over the forthcoming month. This system is no doubt intended to qualify as a 'membership' in the terms set out above. Audience numbers vary from very few to a few dozen or more. 

Film School Confidential commenced this year and this 'semester' is a program of eight specially selected movies which began on March 11. It is sponsored by the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and screens in the AFTRS theatre in Moore Park. Each film is selected by a guest presenter, these being people from or associated with the film industry. Audiences have so far ranged from a maximum of fifty to just a couple of dozen, notwithstanding a massive advertising bombardment via the  AFTRS website , the Film Alert email and a website   specially created by Barbara Grummels. Admission to the screenings is free though the organisers make clear that regrettably they have not been able to wangle free beer for the usually excellent post-screening discussions.

The WEA Film Group screens fortnightly on Sunday afternoons at the WEA premises in Bathurst Street. The program, mostly selected by the inveterately enthusiastic Leth Maitland consists of classics and rarities screened on DVDs supplied by the NFSA and also by the Goethe Society. Admission is by season ticket which costs about $100 per anum. Average attendance is about a dozen people, sometimes more.

For decades people have talked about establishing a Cinematheque in Sydney. By this they usually mean a Film Centre of the kind represented by ACMI,which incorporates the Melbourne Cinematheque, GOMA, the former ARC Cinema programmes in Canberra, the Mercury Cinema in Adelaide and maybe others. 

What's interesting though is how small attendances are at all venues except for the AGNSW. You have to wonder whether the enthusiasm for the concept would actually be matched by any large numbers coming out. More later as I think about this, or indeed get any reactions.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Vale David Perry - Tina Kaufman remembers a major figure in Australian experimental film

David Perry, who died last week after some years of illness, and was farewelled yesterday, was a gifted filmmaker across a variety of genres and styles, and a warm and lovely person.  I really only realised the breadth of his art when I attended his retrospective exhibition at the Mosman Art Gallery in 2009.  I’d known him for many years, and seen all his films, but suddenly there were rooms full of vibrant paintings and posters, elegant drawings, stunning photographs and some fascinating video work to take in and enjoy. 

While I’d seen David often over the years, often at a screening or in a film festival crowd, or sometimes at a party, and we’d always had good conversations given the restrictions those venues imposed, it was great to see him at his exhibition, surrounded by an amazing range of friends, and thoroughly enjoying the event. 

I first met David in the early ’60s, at that exciting time when everyone seemed to be involved in some sort of creative activity, from art to publishing, from acting to music, and in the very early ventures into filmmaking (with a side benefit of being called out for crowd scenes or bit parts in many of these films).  David Perry, Albie Thoms, John Clark, and my old friend Aggy Read were not only making films, but getting Ubu Films established and with it the beginnings of Sydney’s small but active underground film movement.

As Albie Thoms says in his bio of David in the exhibition catalogue, “over the next five years David made a dozen shorts for Ubu, many quite radical in their form . . . the comedy, The Tribulations of Mr.  Dupont Nomore . . . had the censors in a flap, and the film poem, A Sketch on Abigayl’s Belly . . . became the centre of a court case when it was impounded on its return from a festival in Germany.”   Those were the days!  David also shot films for others, designed posters and handbills for Ubu, and helped with Albie’s famous lightshows. 

He spent four years in London in the 70s, and then spent a number of years teaching in Queensland, returning to Sydney in 1980.  In 1986 he made his docudrama Love and Work, with John Flaus as his alter ego; and in 1993 his feature film The Refracting Glasses screened at the Sydney Film Festival and had a season at the Chauvel.  But this is only a fraction of an amazingly productive life, filled with his painting, video work, and photography.    Only last year he finally finished and saw published his lovely, very honest, and richly illustrated Memoirs of a Dedicated Amateur, which is a great read.

After his great friend Albie Thoms died, there was a wonderful celebration of his life and work, at which David spoke very movingly about their friendship and shared passions.  It would be fitting if a similar occasion could pay tribute to David Perry.

For slightly more official detail go to wikipedia and for a late career interview go here.

24 April 2015

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Sylvia Lawson writes in support of a National Film & Sound Archive based in Canberra

Sylvia Lawson, scholar, critic and author writes in response to Tony Buckley’s
Proposal to ensure the future of the National Film & Sound Archive.  (Sylvia’s current reviews may be found at Inside Story.)

Dear Geoff

Please add my name to the list of signatories to the proposed agenda for the NFSA. I salute Tony for his persistent drive on this. 

I have one rather important reservation: I don't think a revived and expanded Archive should have its principal base in Sydney, nor in any other state capital, though of course it should have offices and appropriate representation in all states and territories.  

The NFSA, like the National Gallery, the National Museum and the National Library among other major institutions, should be based in the national capital, as is appropriate to its status - or rather, to the status it ought to have.  Its present location is in the most beautiful building in Canberra, and this location should be retained.  It has been developed and expanded over the past few decades for its purposes, and that could well continue. 

Even if the large sums of money involved in re-location and new building could be found, I suggest that they're needed far more urgently for staff and public programmes, the areas which, after recent major cuts, will need restoring.  

You are right to point to the comparative governmental neglect of the NFSA by comparison with the treatment of the NGA, NLA and others (although all cultural institutions have suffered unduly under the present regime).  I have written, and will probably write again, on the comparative lack of cachet accorded by government to film and audio-visual media in general.  

I suggest that Tony's proposals should be the subject of meetings at the Archive, in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere, wherever concerned film makers, film users, teachers and others can gather.

Best wishes

Sylvia Lawson


23 April 2015

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Andrew Pike & Ronin Films join Facebook and join the bigger world

Quite a moment for this forty year old company which has put quality at the top of its criteria for the films it brings to the Australian market. So...in Andrew's own words:

    Dear all,
    I've finally decided to try Facebook - after a nervous one-day toe in the water in 2010! So this is my first posting. Just to let you know, those of you involved in film, that through my company, Ronin Films, I am still active as a film distributor, these days specialising in documentary films. We have a fabulous collection and represent some wonderful filmmakers, so I'd urge you to browse our catalogue at www.roninfilms.com.au We are currently upgrading our web...site, so any feedback about the site will be welcome.
    One of our big projects over the last 3 years, has been the re-mastering of 29 documentaries produced under the former Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (now AIATSIS) over a 20 year period from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. The films were made by filmmakers such as David and Judith McDougall, Kim McKenzie, Curtis Levy, Roger Sandall, and Wayne Barker.
    In many cases, we worked with AIATSIS archive staff (especially the very patient Tom Eccles) to re-scan original 16mm negs, and to re-colour-grade each film, and in some cases restore audio tracks. Canberra-based editors, James Lane and Mike Kenneally, have done most of the technical work for Ronin. The last of the films has now been successfully re-mastered by Mike, and will be released on DVD shortly. Information about the titles already in release can be found on the Ronin website.
    In their day, the AIATSIS films represented the cutting edge in ethnographic film and observational cinema, and it's great that they are now finding a new audience world-wide.
    I'll talk more about other projects and developments in later postings.
    Cheers for now!
    See More




Monday, 20 April 2015

Hugo Weaving Channels an image from La Jetee

At a performance last night of Samuel Beckett's Endgame, I could not get something out of my head. Hugo Weaving, in a quite enthralling performance entirely conducted from a wheelchair wears a pair of glasses that are designed to indicate that he is blind. The prominence of the glasses, reflecting the lights onto the stage is quite mesmerising. You cant stop looking at them. But has Andrew Upton taken the image from another, less well-known but iconic source.

Just a thought but....Check the photos

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Partisan - Ariel Kleiman's Debut Feature opens May 28th

Only infrequently do I leap into a film sight unseen (though I have already mentioned, sight unseen, that Anurag Kashyup's new movie is starting on May 15 straight after its debut at Cannes) but I think I will again now that I know Ariel Kleiman’s debut feature film is opening on May 28th. Kleiman studied film at the Victorian College of the Arts, (once known as just ‘Swinburne’) and while there he made one of the smartest short dramas I’ve ever seen. Dont ask how many I’ve seen because it’s not that many. But, Deeper Than Yesterday was something special and not just for its drama. Set on a Russian submarine, the producers, a team of students from the VCA, found a disused sub and managed to turn it into a most impressive location. From the moment that the film started  attracting attention and winning prizes at festivals all round the world, bigger questions emerged. For starters, how quickly could Kleiman get into feature film making and how ambitious should he be?The answers will be known to quite a considerable degree when, a week before the Sydney Film Festival opens, the film will have its Australian premiere. If you want a sneak peek you can go to the trailer and if you want to see in toto the film that started my enthusiasm you can go to Deeper Than Yesterday. More later...


Thunder over Hawaii - The New Zealand Connection

Many thanks to Roger Westcombe for supplying this link to a site I was completely unfamiliar with, notwithstanding it has had half a million page views. 

Here's an extract from the story, "it" being a copy of the aforementioned Roger Corman epic from 1956: Attempting to track it down in some form, I discovered late last year that it was indeed available on VHS, albeit hardly on a wide scale. As Thunder Over Hawaii, the title under which it had been originally shot and under which it had been re-released to theatres in 1960, it was listed in the catalogue of a New Zealand video store. Now, one PAL VHS copy rentable only in person or to Kiwi mailing addresses may be a mere straw but I clutched for it nonetheless. I mailed the company to confirm that yes, they had it. An ex-pat Kiwi friend found a friend back home who could rip from VHS and my long wait is thankfully over.

For the amazing full details, plus some splendid Corman/AIP art work go to 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Thunder Over Hawaii (or Naked Paradise) - A quest for Corman

That's Roger by the way for the kiddies out there for whom the only Corman known is der loved Federal Finance Minister vid der tick accent. "

A correspondent writes: I have an out-of-the-blue question for you.  In 1956, Roger Corman released (through AIP) a quickie called THUNDER OVER HAWAII,  It has also been screened under the title NAKED PARADISE.  According to the omniscient Neil McG, the only place this film has ever been released on home video is Oz ... and that was on VHS, so presumably long ago.  My question is:  can you think of anyone who might have either an old VHS of the film or (better) a transfer to DVD of the film?  I realise that this is a tallish order, but if anyone can find the thing, I'm confident it will be you.

I've been asking around without luck. Send any responses to geofg2@bigpond.com


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Dave Kehr & Douglas Fairbanks in Sydney

Dave Kehr is one of America’s foremost critics and programmers. Over a career lasting decades he has been one of those who constantly display an encyclopaedic knowledge of American cinema. He has put this to good use writing for newspapers and magazines and now in his present role as a curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Immediately prior to this job he built a devoted international following writing about DVD releases in the New York Times. Dave is in Australia at the moment attending the FIAF Conference but will be playing hookey from that jaunt when he presents screenings of the silent classic The Iron Mask in Melbourne at ACMI on April 22 and in Sydney at AFTRS on April 23 at 6.30 pm. ADMISSION IS FREE!!

The Sydney screening is being hosted by the Film Critics Circle of Australia. Please book via Email: FilmCriticsAust@bigpond.com
Include Name and number of tickets required.
Bookings will be confirmed via Email.
Venue: Australian Film Television and Radio School's (AFTRS) theatre, Building 130, The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park.  6.15 for 6.30 sharp start. Iron Mask (Dir: Allan Dwan, 1929, 95 mins, DCP (orig. 35mm). This will be a premiere and once only screening of MoMA's restored DCP.
The Iron Mask stars the king of Hollywood swashbucklers, Douglas Fairbanks Snr, in a lavish production originally released as a part-talkie, but only recently restored with its original Vitaphone sound-on-disc soundtrack.
The film was directed by Allan Dwan - one of Hollywood's most prolific directors, with an oeuvre of over 400 films made over 50 years, including ten films with Fairbanks.


Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! - Barrie Pattison tracks down a new Bengali film at what once was Hoyts Paris

How’s this for the magic world of Show Business? I’d been wondering what had happened to the Bollywood theatre releases. Well I picked up a Hoyts Paris (except it isn’t Hoyts Paris anymore) leaflet and there was something called Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! listed with a few lines of synopsis and the times.

No ‘phone number listed for the theatre so I checked the papers and the web site but found no reference to the film.  I had to check  IMDB. To make sure I hadn’t imagined it.

Always a devoté of submerged releases,  I rolled up to the theatre on the last day and the only clue was the word “Detective” on the LED lights display. Using my Xmas cut price voucher, in I went to make up the audience to four.

Not great and not actually Bollywood, being a Bengali production, but a handsomely produced item with an interesting premise. A 1944 murder investigation by the young Sherlock Holmes-modeled detective gets mixed in with a master criminal, a fatale female film star (Swastika Mukherjee!), the Japanese invasion, the Independence Movement, the British police and Asian dope smugglers, all pivoting round a boarding house where the owner does as much deducting as the central character.

The effort put into staging WW2 Calcutta is comparable to the Anne Hui Golden Era. They even do Clint Eastwood’s Changeling thing of shooting a scene in a tram which travels a city block that you can see out the windows in the elaborate art department detail which is the film’s major asset. All this will be obliterated on Video.

With SBS running Woody Allen in their peak slots and the film societies going belly up, non Multiplex production is becoming more and more elusive at a time when, paradoxically, the range of material to be seen is greater than it ever was. 

I really don’t fancy the idea of film freaking reduced to something done by isolated individuals on a desk top.

16 April 2015


On DVD (3) - Guns and Talks (Jang Jin, South Korea, 2001, 121 minutes)

What did I know about Jang Jin until recently. Well I had seen, without it registering very mucha film he wrote the script for back in1996,  A Hot Roof. It screened on SBS way back in the days when people with taste and knowledge had something to do with the channel's feature film offering. Those days have passed.

So segue to 2014 when out of the blue Tony Rayns selects Jang's latest film Man on High Heels for the Vancouver Film Festival.  Tony's program note contains the usual barbs but here it is: Why are Kim Kiduk’s increasingly ridiculous movies better known around the world than Jang Jin’s genuinely subversive satires, dramas and comedies? That’s a zen riddle of a question, but it’s a fact that Jang Jin—who is a major innovator in Korean theatre and television as well as a terrific writer-director of movies—is unaccountably neglected outside Korea. Maybe Man on High Heels is the film that will, at last, make up for two decades of that neglect. It delivers all the shocks and ultraviolence we’ve come to expect from Korean crime thrillers, but with a truly subversive twist.

Yoon (Cha Seungwon) is the ultimate hard man, a battle-scarred cop who gets his man by any means necessary. But Yoon has a secret: she’s a woman trapped in a man’s body. The body in question—first seen naked in a sauna, as described by scummy gang boss Huh—seems as masculine as they come, but as Yoon’s later meeting with a transgendered former marine suggests, appearances can be deceptive. The plot has two main strands: Yoon’s take-down of Boss Huh, whose criminal empire is minded by his brother while Huh is in jail, and the tribulations of woman cop Jangmi as she works to trap a serial rapist. Matters are complicated by Jangmi’s feelings for Yoon. Can this story have a happy ending? And, if so, what would that happy ending be? 

Man on High Heels was a terrific mix of police procedural and contemplations about gender. You would think it would have made it a standout for festivals around the world but that doesn't appear to have been so, with the exception of Rotterdam. At that event in January Rayns programmed an entire Jang Jin retro into proceedings and among the selection was Guns and Talks. I didn't see the film there but by chance a Hong Kong release DVD has recently fallen into my arms and has just been watched with much interest. Again, the subversion of genre is the key into the movie for its a hitman story with a twist or three.

In brief, we are in some future nirvana period where getting people whacked is a much more polite affair. So polite that a group of barely post-teen young boys who share a house together have gone into the business of bumping people off. Now the hits are a little more sophisticated than simply whacking someone. Elaborate despatches are cooked up, once at the start when four crims are done away with in one evening by various ingenious methods which employ the boys best skills. Then there is the finale where a  performance of Hamlet has to be worked around. (That's not a spoiler). In between the boys share a house, argue about the cooking and domestics and have their first crushes. All, however, are besotted with a sweet TV newsreader. The domestics remind you of the Beatles house in Help - so politely spoken, so neat, so organised.

As for the cops who have to pick up the remnants of the mayhem, they are a little distant from the usual brutes in most Korean movies. There's a sunny national future ahead. Ho, ho. Joke.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

NFSA Strategic Plan - Correspondents respond

A correspondent notes that the Strategic Plan makes no mention of activity in or plans for exhibition in the ARC Cinema. This Canberra resident notes: The lending collection has some wonderful films, and it wouldn't be hard to put on an inspiring programme throughout the year.  Unless there are copyright conflicts, of course.  But if it were free, I don't think that would get them in trouble.  Why keep all those great prints in the dark?


Another correspondent writes: 
The main point I want to make is regarding the 16mm prints in  the NFV Lending Collection. I have said to NFSA officials that people are willing to devote, say, half a day a week, to checking all returning prints, print condition, repair  any damage, rewind etc.if there are no longer staff available.

Unfortunately there seems to be a submission from elsewhere that the 16mm print collection be closed. This is very distressing to me, as I have strong conviction on the value of keeping it open, albeit with restrictions. I hope this is one “recommendation” you will ignore!

The experiences with crap 16mm prints are indeed part of the problem. But the solution is not to throw out the baby, but get all the prints carefully checked before going out. Volunteers are available if there are no staff. The collection should be severely culled, both for quality and in relation to bookings.

This idea of moving the Archive to Sydney is ridiculous. No government, especially not this one, would entertain such an idea. The cost of the real estate would be astronomical. Would all  the nitrate vaults, warehouses full of film and documentary materials etc still stay in Canberra?  The nitrate had been previously storied in a munitions factory!

It is true that the old Institute of Anatomy building was initially unsuitable for the NFSA, but with the excellent and beautifully integrated extension, the legacy of the NFSA’s one good director, Ron Brent, it is now a very good working building - the fact that it is now half empty is not the fault of the building!  For 30 years it was built up from a grim place visited by no-one to a thriving humming exciting venue, a great  tourist attraction, a wonderful inter-active exhibition, two $2 million state of the art cinemas, cafes, shops, library - students would sit writing their theses in the lovely heritage courtyard (sometimes used for outdoor screenings, as well as weddings). Then it was hit by a nuclear bomb. 30 years to build, 30 days to destroy. A morgue to a morgue in 30 years!

The plan says that this mythical Sydney Archive would be a grand place to match other great national institutions - two of the three mentioned are in Canberra!  It would be much better and  cheaper to re-institute the HQ that the NFSA already has rather than start from scratch elsewhere.


Apart from that, Melbourne, which considers itself the film capital of Australia, would never tolerate it!

Another correspondent writes: Information now to hand indicates that for the last fiscal year, 2013/14 the Oral History Program produced 156 commissioned interviews. The Strategic Plan proposes that this number be reduced to 75 per year.

Monday, 13 April 2015

The German Film Festival - some quick recommendations from cinephile and author Eddie Cockrell

The Annual German Film Festival, 13-31 May,  is probably the poor cousin of all the major European showcases that hit the screens here. Conversely, because so few German films actually get screened elsewhere, the quality is probably a lot higher overall. The prices however are still high for those who want to speculate.  Full details are here.

Eddie Cockrell, legendary critic and programmer will be involved with the festival Q&As with film-maker guests. He has sent in a note about his recommendations divided into two groups.

Films previewed. (Hit the title for a link to the Fest website.) Beloved Sisters (Dominik Graf, 2014, 140 minutes) A period drama for people who don't like period drama, Not My Day (Peter Thorwath, 2014, 115 minutes), a left-field take on the Hollywood action film genre, Superegos (Benjamin Heisenberg, 2014, 93 minutes), ditto for odd couple comedy,  and The Dark Valley (Andreas Prochaska, 2014, 114 minutes) Eastwood does Heimat.

“There are also new films by Doris Dörrie, Monika Treut, Fatih Akin, Christoph Hochhäusler and Baran bo Odar and these would be at the top of my list to catch.”


Catching Up (5) - Take My Life, Directed by Ronald Neame, UK, 1947

Ronald Neame had a bit of a charmed life in the film industry. After working as an office boy for an oil company, he got a messenger's job at Elstree and by 1929, barely 18 years old,  he was an assistant cameraman on Hitchcock's Blackmail. By 1933 he was a cinematographer. Wikipedia reports that his credits as cinematographer include  Major Barbara (1941), In Which We Serve (1942), This Happy Breed (1944), and Blithe Spirit (1945). His camera work on One of Our Aircraft Is Missing got him an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects in 1943. Wikipedia then reports that Neame formed a production company, Cineguild, with David Lean and Anthony Havelock-Allan. During this partnership, he produced Brief Encounter (1945), Great Expectations (1946), and Oliver Twist (1948). He shared Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay for Brief Encounter, in 1947, and Great Expectations, in 1948, with co-writers Lean and Havelock-Allan.

But, in between all that activity, Neame found the time space and money to direct his first film, a modest little mystery, Take My Life, made in 1947. He continued his career as a producer after this and directed two more films over the next five years, The Golden Salamander with the delectable Anouk Aimee, (1950), and the rather good Arnold Bennett adaptation The Card, (1952) starring Alec Guinness as a nineteenth century Joe Lampton if you get what I mean.

Take My Life has an interesting set of writing credits being "Adapted from an original screenplay by Winston Graham & Valerie Taylor. Additional Dialogue is by Winston Graham and Margaret Kennedy. The cinematographer was Guy Green. Winston Graham wrote the hugely successful Poldark series of swashbuckler novels. He also wrote 'Marnie' the book on which Hitchcock based his 1964 film of the same name.

Take My Life is a courtroom drama in which a man, Nick Talbot (Hugh Williams), who lives off the money he makes managing the business affairs of his opera singer wife (the scrumptious Greta Gynt), is accused of murdering a former lover. We know he didn't do it because the real murderer's face is shown to us while he commits the dastardly deed. (It's Marius Goring, the brooding presence who plied a trade as a lugubrious figure in many a classic Brit movie, including four for the Powell & Pressburger team.) But some mis-identification and other circumstantial evidence like Nick's violent quarrel with his wife later that evening, propels Nick into the dock. He's found guilty and sentenced to death. His singer wife sets out to save him and being a singer, the major clue emerges from a piece of music. It all takes about 72 minutes to complete. Efficient but rather bloodless and Marius's menace, particularly in the scenes where he shows Greta Gynt around the empty school at which he's the headmaster dont have have any great tension or threat.

Take My Life, Cineguild Production, UK, 1947, 72 minutes. Screens on the ABC as part of the channel's J Arthur Rank package. Copy taken from an on-air screening sometime ago.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

By the Numbers - The NFSA's ambitions laid out for all, including successors and political masters, to measure

THE NFSA Strategic Plan 2015-2018 Proposes to achieve by 2018

Six partnerships working with three tiers of government to support ongoing program delivery to regional, remote and rural audiences

Partnerships with three institutions in state and territory capitals for ensuring engagement with the collection through exhibitions and access centres

(Up to) ten restored and remastered classic and rediscovered films for theatrical screenings

A 20% increase in visits to the NFSA website (1.6 million in 2014) and a 12% increase in page views (8 million in 2014) with bounce rate below 50% and average session duration increasing to three minutes 30 seconds per visit.

Three annual online exhibitions from the collection

1,000,000 collection catalogue records available to be searched online via the Collection Search.

Produced 75 oral history career interviews annually. (This is significantly below the number of interviews produced in recent years.)


Increase self-generated income through commercial activities and fund-raising, philanthropic  and sponsorship development to $2 million annually. (Last reported figures were in the 2013/14 Annual Report where the sum of $129,000 was reported as donated.) 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Richie Benaud and I - a modest memoir based on a true story

We, my spouse Karen Foley, our friend Carol Myer and myself, were in a very nice restaurant in Villefranche-sur-mer. We had gone to the village to see Jean Cocteau's painting of the interior of a fishing hut turned into a chapel and, in nearby Menton, Cocteau's painted wedding chapel (http://www.tourisme-menton.fr/Jean-Cocteau-Mariage-Hall.html, you may need to cut and paste). The dinner was fine and only one other table was occupied. The occupant I recognised, among the table of four, was Richie Benaud. By the end of the evening, charged up with red wine and bonhomie, I decided to approach Richie for an autograph. Karen and Carol remained at the door. The only piece of paper I had was the restaurant's brochure. It would have to do. I stood behind Richie for a moment expecting him to respond to my presence. Nothing happened. I tapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Unhand me" he said and rose and threw me to the ground and punched me as well a couple of times. I blurted out "I first saw you on the second last day of the Melbourne Test when Ian Meckiff knocked over the Poms for less than a hundred in their second innings". He stopped hitting me and said "Actually it was Davo who took six that day." Oh dear my memory had played tricks I thought. But no in fact Davo took his six in the first innings and backed up with another three in the second.  But I had to check that later. Both took nine for the match. I forgave him and decided not to write him a letter telling him his memory was just a little shot.

After that somewhat tense start to our friendship things settled down. We discovered, via Daphne, that Richie and spouse lived in Coogee, when back home and for the rest of the time he lived in nearby Beaulieu and just flew over to London to call the cricket. Nice. The conversation went on and eventually Karen came over to say we had to go. Soon she was having a nice talk with Richie and Daphne as well. Sydney real estate was on their mind as we also had a place in Coogee at the time. Eventually we rejoined the hapless Carol, patiently standing by the doorway having a chat with one of the waiters. We learned that Richie was a regular and so was Mel Gibson. Memorable.

Parts of the above are derived from a friend's rendition of the incident which is far more amusing than mine.

Green Tea and Cherry Ripe - Solrun Hoaas screening at the Art Gallery of NSW

Solrun Hoaas was a great friend of Karen Foley and myself. We saw her throughout the time she lived in Australia and she joined us every year at Christmas for a couple of decades prior to her untimely death at a far too young age. At this year’s FCCA Awards the documentary prize presented by Michael Loebenstein, the NFSA CEO, was dedicated to Solrun and the FCCA program contained the following note.

The FCCA Award for best feature documentary is this year named in honor of Solrun Hoaas a determined independent whose work ranged across dramatic and documentary film-making, features and shorts, in a career spanning more than thirty years of dedicated work.

Born in Trondheim, Norway, Hoaas was one of four siblings of missionary parents who had been in China before World War II. The family returned to China after the war but the communist revolution again forced them to leave in 1949, this time for Hong Kong. A year later they moved to Kobe, Japan, where they lived throughout the 1950s and '60s.

Hoaas graduated from a Canadian academy in Kobe and she spent a year in the United States before enrolling at the University of Oslo, where she majored in social anthropology. She came to Australia in the early 1970s.
She began filming with a 16-millimetre camera in Okinawa in 1977 and graduated with a diploma in film from the Swinburne Institute of Technology in 1980. Her graduation film, In Search of the Japanese, a satiric study of Australian incomprehension of Japanese-Australian relations, was shown at the 1981 Melbourne Film Festival.
Later, with funds from Film Victoria and Andrew Pike of Ronin Films, Hoaas made the hour-long documentary that became Green Tea and Cherry Ripe, a touching film about six Japanese war brides. It was screened on SBS TV and sold widely abroad.

The following year she received funding for a script she had written for a dramatic feature about a Japanese war bride living in Melbourne in the 1950s. Aya starred Nicholas Eadie and the Japanese actress Eri Ishida, and was nominated for six AFI awards and screened at more than 30 international film festivals. Although Hoaas never got a chance to make another feature film, she continued to write distinctive scripts that were sympathetically received, but for various reasons failed to find commercial support.

She continued to receive invitations to visit Japan and Korea, and through her typical persistence, secured a visa to visit North Korea. She came away with Pyongyang Diaries (1997), one of the first films to provide a glimpse of life in the odd, secretive state. This was followed by another documentary about relations between North and South Korea, Rushing to Sunshine (2001).

From 2004, Solrun turned to handmade prints, experimenting with film images combined with copperplate etchings, and continued to develop feature film scripts with titles such as The Siren of Seoul, The Okinawan Daughter, The Watchmaker, and Fearless Tours.

Solrun’s printmaking featured in a number of group shows, and she had solo exhibitions at Gasworks art precinct, the Joshua McClelland Print Room, the Benalla Gallery, and the Albion Street Gallery in Sydney.

Solrun died in 2009. Her documentary films and her dramatic feature, Aya (1991) have recently been restored and reissued on DVD by Ronin Films

(Notes derived from Solrun Hoaas’s obituary  in The Age written by Gerry Carman)


Solrun’s Green Tea and Cherry Ripe, wonderful documentary about Japanese war brides and their lives in post-WW2 Australia and a precursor to her feature film Aya, produced by Karen Foley, will have a rare screening at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Wednesday April 29 at 3.00 pm and 8.00 pm and on Sunday 3 May at 3.00 pm> it screens as part of a double bill of classic Australian documentaries with Sharon Connolly's & Trevor Graham's Red Matildas. Through the lives of three women, May Pennefather, Audrey Blake and Joan Goodwin, Red Matildas explores the social and political conditions in Australia during the Great Depression. Massive unemployment, widespread malnutrition and growing militarism at home and abroad provoked many people to political activity. For these women, the Communist Party was one of the few avenues for agitation then available. The story of their stand against injustice is illustrated with archival film providing a dramatic 'grass roots’ perspective on the turmoil of the Great Depression.

NFSA - The Strategic Plan for 2015-2018

Released without any accompanying media statement (at least not one put up on the NFSA website or even more precisely one that I could find, the NFSA says its “ Strategic Plan 2015-2018  articulates our vision, our key principles, and our three-year strategic focus.”

So folks, there is no attempt by the NFSA, or any spin doctors, to direct any analysis, marshal thoughts towards any conclusion or even provide a quick pep talk as to what’s up. That’s interesting.  So far only Don Groves online at Inside Film has provided any commentary though I cant claim to have been surfing the net looking for stories. Don has reported a few words I offered about the Plan thus: “I was a vocal critic of the NFSA’s lack of transparency a year ago, (but) welcome the strategic plan’s assertion that the federal government must play a part in providing additional resources. The film and television industry, key individuals of influence, cinephiles and indeed the general public have to develop strategies to ensure this happens. I have said on countless occasions that the government, successive governments, have let the NFSA and its senior management down in some serious ways”.


More analysis will follow but in the meantime I can say I’m impressed by the NFSA management’s willingness to put numbers next to its ambitions. Thus the Plan proposes there will be ten feature films a year restored. There will be 75 oral histories. There’s much more and I’m reminded of all that advice from senior bureaucrats and Ministers lo those many years ago about putting firm numbers in any document about what might happen in the future. “Aaaaahh, nooooo!” they would say. They had no wish to be held hostage to such fortune. More on all that later. Meanwhile, for a bolder agenda may I remind you that you can check out Tony Buckley’s grand plan for film preservation and if you feel like publicly endorsing it then please let me know  and I’ll add your name to the list of people who have put up their hands in support.  

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Manoel de Oliveira dies aged 106 - Cinephile and Film-maker Ben Cho remembers.

The Portugese film-maker Manoel de Oliveira died on 2nd April at the age of 106. He made his last film no more than a couple of years ago. Cinephile, film-maker and now blogger Ben Cho has sent in this wonderful appreciation of the great man's work. It also appears on his blog http://www.mehreport.com/ (you may need to cut and paste the address)


One of those first-world, ‘not so important in the grand scheme of life’ regrets I still harbour (and I’m sure many other film lovers have their own similar tales of woe to share) is my decision not to purchase the gargantuan Manoel de Oliveira 22 disc boxset from Portugal when I was traveling there a few years ago. Already perilously close to having the seams of my check-in and carry-on luggage split from books, magazines and DVDs, this massive obelisk of a collection was just not going to fit in anywhere no matter how many mental Tetris-like games I played in my mind figuring out how to make the physics work.

It was sitting there on the shelves of an El Corte Ingles, beckoning me to enter the (admittedly selected, given the dozens and dozens of films not included amongst the 21 on offer) filmography of one of cinema’s masters whose complete body of work has been largely unavailable to see outside of festivals, the odd bootleg or occasional US release, and I declined.

Some film lovers I know find his filmography just too daunting to properly penetrate and I understand the concern: lack of easy availability, the perceived notion that the finer resonance of some of his work will be lost on a non-Portuguese, the sheer lack of time we all face to delve deeper in to an ever expanding menu of global cinema being served up every day. But I do truly regret not taking the plunge and getting to grips with Manoel de Oliveira’s work. I have since played catch-up whenever I can on whatever format comes along.

Full disclosure time: I haven’t seen all that much of de Oliveira’s work, I probably never will get around to even watching the majority of his work but from the little I’ve seen, I can appreciate and fully understand why he’s declared a master artist of the medium by the cine-cognoscenti. The sheer longevity of his career is something to admire and respect but the venerable status he holds among cinephiles is not really built upon the concept of staying-power, it is built upon the soaring highs his best work achieved.

Few would be foolish enough to assert that his sprawling career contained masterpiece after masterpiece but there were masterpieces all the same, say Francisca or Doomed Love, and the last few years saw his work find an ever expanding audience as Belle Toujours, The Strange Case of Angelica and Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl found foreign home video distribution relatively quickly after initial release.

When news came of his passing at age 106, I went and pulled out a DVD of Aniki Bobo, a film which you couldn’t really claim to be his best (one however that many claim anticipated Italian neorealism) but it is a film whose images and general tone I remember fondly and felt the desire to revisit immediately. The way the film captures the looming shadows of children running through alleyways in the night; the tender rooftop rendezvous between a smitten boy and the girl he’s fallen for; a starlit sky as children wax lyrical about heaven, the soul and butterflies. It is a film of immense emotional depth even if I was slightly unsure of what to expect after it announces itself with the kind of dramatic punch-in-the-face you’d expect from a Samuel Fuller film. It is a film concerning the bittersweet nature of life at its beginnings, the excitement, the unknown, childhood.

I then found a copy of de Oliveira’s last feature film, the superb (if rather bleak) Gebo and the Shadow and revisited that. For a truly illuminating exploration of that film I would encourage you to read the Portuguese critic Francisco Ferreira’s excellent piece in Cinema Scope [available at: http://cinema-scope.com/features/a-murderer-cannot-avoid-death-thoughts-on-manoel-de-oliveiras-gebo-and-the-shadow/].


There is no escaping the suffocating environments of Gebo or the stench of death that hangs over the unfolding tale. Aniki Bobo seems full of life, Gebo and the Shadow seems full of death. The former shot on film, the latter shot on high-definition video. Between childhood and death, there lies a world ripe for discovery. In de Oliveira’s filmography, I look forward to eventually starting the journey. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A Dissenting view on the need to provide further funding and support for the National Film & Sound Archive

Max Berghouse writesThis will be the first time I think I have ever disagreed with you. The recommendations in your post below are things which while desirable in themselves, are out of temper with the times. 

Public expectation is broadly in line with the view that expenditures have to be lessened – except of course expenditures that concern some particular interest group to which they belong. People are generally irrational.

It really is not so long ago, and certainly within our lifetimes, that film was regarded as totally evanescent and hardly worthy of more consideration. Many people would now see the error of this, but film remains in practically every perspective very much a minority interest. The danger of the suggestions below which is basically 110% solution to the existing problem is that even less will be achieved than currently.

It is simply absurd to suggest that in the general understanding of people, including intellectuals, that film as a resource, once excluding entertainment, is at the same level of cultural heft as the contents of the National Gallery and the National Library. There is a quite clear pecking order which puts painting at the top, followed quite some distance behind by sculpture and then further down by literature (I mean valuable printed material and not merely the contents).

One of the really important aspects of curatorship is the creative ability to let go. In fact I think it is one of the most important aspects of curatorship and the evidence of the past is that far too much of worth is disposed of. That seems to me to be the problem in relation to our film archive in that we really have too much material without clear understanding of what ought to be saved ought to be let go.

I make this comment as a person whom you know the cares desperately about cinema in all its manifestations. My real fear is in relation to the proposals that it will be viewed by "insiders" like politicians as simply another vehicle for more jobs for the boys. Sinecures and self-seeking are altogether too relevant in relation to pretty much every aspect of government involvement with film!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Signing up in support of ensuring the future of the National Film & Sound Archive

The previous blog entry deals with an urgent issue in Australia's film culture. It was prepared by Australian award-winning producer, editor and conservator Anthony Buckley. Thus far it has the support of

Geoff Gardner, Film Alert blogger
Sue Milliken, producer of Paradise Road, Sirens, The Odd Angry Shot, My Brother Jack  former Chair of the Australian Film Commission, author of recently published memoir on the Australian film industry Selective Memory.
Paul Harris, Director, St Kilda Film Festival
James McCarthy, Former NSW Regional Manager NFSA, 1986-96, "But please bear in mind that it is the National Film and SOUND archive. A fact often overlooked by the film centric. The sound industry has nowhere near the clout the film industry has, and its import work in the scheme of things is often marginalised."
Trish Fitzsimons, Documentary filmmaker, writer of history, theory and policy around documentary. Post-graduate Convenor of the Griffith Film School, including research higher degrees and the Master of Screen Production.
Lynn Gailey, 
Neil McGlone, Film Advisor & Researcher, contributor to Sight & Sound, Curator of the Peter Von Bagh Archive in collaboration with the Criterion Collection, Midnight Sun Film Festival, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Nordic Film Festival
Eddie Cockrell, Film Critic, Festival Programmer
Tom Ryan, Film Critic
Ben Cho, Film-maker, critic, festival worker
Dr Jane Mills, Associate Professor, School of the Arts and Media, UNSW, Associate Editor Fusion, Series Editor, Australian Screen Classics
Ray Thomas, ASE, Freelance screen editor
Gary Andrews, Cinephile, Fmr Board Member MIFF, Fmr Board Member Senses of Cinema "The preservation of the historical record is so important, and its conversion into accessible format equally so."
David Donaldson, Founding Director Sydney Film Festival, Borrower (“client”), retailer, donor and friend of the Archive, and predecessor bodies, since 1951. Advocate for Hollywood’s First Australian (J.P. McGowan of South Australia). Urging for commemoration of the rescue in 1954 by Sydney University Film Group of The Kid Stakes (1927). This idea has the imagination and scale of what is needed, together with a location where major activity in film and sound actually does occur and historically has occurred since each was invented. "Incidentally, there is a conceptual mis-match between “film” and “sound” that ought to be attended to at a future time of some major change. Perhaps simply “The Longford-Lyell Institute”?
Ian Taylor, Cinephile, blogger and programmer
Daniela Torsh, retired journalist, filmmaker and founding Director of the Australian National Documentary Conference.
Sylvia Lawson, scholar, critic and author Sylvia’s current reviews may be found at Inside Story
John Duigan, Film Director, Double AFI Award winner for The Year My Voice Broke  and Flirting


Ensuring the Future of the National Film & Sound Archive - Tony Buckley's Proposal to deal with urgent Issues

The future of the National Film & Sound Archive has been a subject of low-simmering public debate for the best part of twelve months. Producer, editor and conservator Tony Buckley has, for a considerable period and long before the current rankling commenced, independently developed his own ideas about the institution and its management. He has publicly expressed his thoughts on a number of occasions, including in a speech posted here.

For some time now Tony has been preparing an agenda of issues which he believes the Federal Government and the NFSA itself hves to address in order to ensure the institution's future. I have posted the full version of the paper on the Film Alert website but to give you some guidance on the issues it addresses and the recommendations it makes a shorter summary of them are set out below. 

The paper makes plain that the situation in which the NFSA finds itself is the result of the failure of successive governments which have allowed the deterioration of the condition of the Archive to occur in a way they have never allowed for the National Gallery and the National Library.  It could be argued that the Archive, as the repository of the Nation’s motion picture heritage, will eventually outweigh those other national institutions in national importance.

The issues identified and recommendations include:

A special grant be requested of Government for the priority digitisation of the two elements of the Cinesound bequest, followed by the provision of sufficient funds for all necessary digitisation of the entire collection.

Funds be provided for the urgent acquisition of state of the art equipment

Appointment of a librarian and re-opening of the NFSA Library

Closure of the lending library of prints and transition to making the collection available on DVDs, USBs and DCPs.

Revitalising the NFSA’s Retail Division  

Increasing the budget and activity of the Oral History Program.

Appointment of curators dedicated to lead international and domestic searches for lost Australian films and sound recordings. 

A proposal be prepared as a matter of urgency for a purpose-built facility in Sydney to enable full public access to the NFSA collection.  The NFSA Board should seek a commitment from Government, the Opposition and industry to support the building of a new Archive by 2025, the building should be of a scale and significance as would take its place alongside other national cultural institutions, including the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour, Sydney, The National Art Gallery and National Museums in Canberra.

The Chair and Board to include a greater representation of practitioners from the top echelon of radio, sound, television and film industries, led by a Chair from within the entertainment industry with considerable and respected business management experience.

Where to Now?
Sue Milliken and I have signed on to Tony’s agenda.The paper is thus signed by the self-designated Archive Action Committee! It is an expansive and visionary prospect. We are seeking public support and propose to start a list of signatories who wish to see this agenda explored as a matter of urgency.

The names of anybody who wants to show their public support will be published as a separate item of the Film Alert blog and will updated as each name, if any, is received. Think about whether you would like to once again put your name out as a signatory seeking urgent action, especially from Government in the form of urgent additional funding, to address the NFSA’s difficulties.


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Consumed - David Cronenberg's remarkable debut novel

By the end you have to concede that Consumed by David Cronenberg, is very much what you might associate with its author. For a start there is the ever present fascination with bodily function and fluid. Next, there is the fascination with the minutiae of the present - the brand names recited with exactitude as to model and function of all manner of consumer goods but especially those consumer goods, products and services which increase our proximity to each other, render things up close and personal, record the daily living activity, influence behavior and which may be used to produce shock and disgust.

The consumption recorded with relish in the book is not just of goods and services but most notably the left breast of a key protagonist, the philosopher queen Celestine Arosteguy. She is part of a philosophical power couple - emperor and empress of the Sorbonne and all they survey of French culture. They are sufficient grandees of their French cultural universe as to be invited, together, to be members of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival. There is no greater honour.

But darker forces are at work and the Arosteguys have formed an evil alliance with Kim Jong Un, childlike emperor of the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea. An elaborate plot has been hatched, part of which involves eating that severed left breast, and it is a world-wide conspiracy designed to assist the extension of the Juche Idea throughout the world. Very funny, but taken very seriously by its combatants. Into this plot stumble a couple of photo-journalists, massive consumers themselves of all things electronic, whose pursuit of two separate stories with medical implications, catapults them into the drama.

It is related in what might be called the late Cronenberg manner. The telling is ice-cold, the description of all that blood and body fluid, so deftly ordinary as to render it without any sense of horror at all. We are a long way from Shivers, way past Crash,  all the way in fact at Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars. This venture may have started as a film project but Cronenberg may have decided that not even he, one of the modern masters, would stump up the cash to make a film involving half a dozen major actors and variously set in Toronto, Budapest, Tokyo, Paris and Pyongang. So he has now turned himself, possibly at just a simple stroke, into a most remarkable novelist.

Consumed, David Cronenberg, Fourth Estate, London, 2014, 284 pp

The King of Peking -A Crowd Funding Project gets the greenlight

For those who might be curious about the proud parent crowd funding project I mentioned last month  (you can find it if you click or cut and paste  here) the news is through. Herewith the producers’ report: “And that is a wrap! 334 amazing backers pushed the campaign to 106% funded with $51,778 raised! This happened because of your support and hard work.

We have so many people to thank, but firstly enormous thanks to every single person who backed, shared, and even talked about the project. Gigantic thank yous also to all our corporate sponsors, our VIP Corporate Sponsor Angle Communication, our executive, associate and consulting producers, Zhong Zheng for his matching pledge, Sundance for their advice, all of the media and press who followed the campaign, and our friends and families! We'll be getting in touch shortly about getting the first rewards to you. But for now it’s time to CELEBRATE! ...The last 24 hours have been a wild one!
From all of us at King of Peking: YOU ROCK!




There you go.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Bombay Velvet - Anurag Kashyup's new movie opens May 15 direct from Cannes

Three years ago, the Sydney Film Festival, in the first year of Nashen Moodley's term as Artistic Director, shocked a lot of people by showing Anurag Kashyup's The Gangs of Wasseypur (India, 2012). In two parts, over five hours, this was Hindi cinema at its finest, a Godfather tale stretching over generations with interpolations of music and sequences of breathtaking physical violence. Alas the appearance of the film did not denote a new freedom and flexibility in SFF programming. There have been Indian films screened since but none has had the raw energy, the exhilaration, the bravado in story-telling, the twists and turns, the music, the songs. Art films, the conservative selection, have been all that's been offered. Just a thought to set your mind racing.

Since then Kashyup has made Ugly (2013),  a police procedural that gets itself into such a plot tangle that finally the life sputtered out of it not withstanding the graphic and violent depiction of, on the one hand police indolence and stupidity, and on the other police violence and victimisation towards enemies. Not necessarily criminal enemies either. Ugly had very little public exposure though you can buy it on Blu-ray and DVD if you know where to look. This is of course only part of his work. The full list of titles he has been involved in as a writer and producer tots up to well over forty films and he's only 43 years old. A prodigy working at the very heart of the biggest film industry on the planet Earth.

Now we await Bombay Velvet (2015) and I'm going to give a heads up at this time in the hope that shortly before or shortly after its opening around the world on May 15, after a world premiere at Cannes, I will have a review to hand that I can use to reinforce attention. For now though here's the Youtube link to the trailer  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmMIQZ1TAig  (you might have to cut and paste the address).

In the meantime, if you want to catch up with the short but brilliant career of the most interesting, eccentric and controversial film-maker currently working in the Hindi (OK Bollywood if you want to have it made clear) cinema then you may try and track down his earlier films Gulaal (2010)No Smoking (2007)  and Black Friday (2004) just for starters