Glenn here from Stale Popcorn here. Nathaniel is travelling somewhere that has - wait for it - bad internet connection(!!!), which is a horrifying prospect to say the least. He asked myself and some others to keep you occupied.
Nathaniel has been a wee bit lax lately in his coverage of world cinema and so I thought, while he's away, I'd do my bit and spruik it for all its worth. This is actually an early version for a piece I have been planning for my own blog to publish at years end. SNEAK PEAK!!!
As a member of the "international" film community (doesn't that term sound just a smidgen condescending?) there are many things to be angry about. Whether it is poor distribution tactics (The Hurt Locker is going Direct-to-DVD in Australia) or bad foreign cinema clogging up cinemas that could be reserved for local fare. I, however, have a big problem to share with you today and it's one that I am sure many other "foreigners" experience when it comes to film from their home country.
I am from Australia, as I'm sure you are aware, and I love this country. It's a wonderful country, doncha know. Any place that, in the span of just a few days, can have stories about Cate Blanchett being knocked out mid-performance and Russell Crowe daring a journalist to join him for a bike ride around Sydney has got to be worth your time, right?
Unfortunately, as any Australian will attest to, our film industry has the tendency to be a bit... shall we say, on the nose. The Academy will be bringing in TEN nominees for next year's award ceremony, meanwhile our national awards - The Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, which I regularly blog about - barely manage to find the annual four in any given year. In 2009 though we seem to have an over-abundance of great movies. So many of such high quality in fact that some, myself included, have raised the theory that 2009 is the greatest year for Australian films ever. EVER! It's out very own 1999, if you will (I could say 1939, but Australia was 2008 and so I thought "no"). If it isn't the best then it is certainly one of the best.
One thing that myself and everybody else within the Australian film watching circle has with our industry is how uniformly similar it is. Each year we get the same sort of films; depressing socio-realist dramas about suburban woe and bleak miserabalism, usually involving drug addicts, or drug dealers, or drug dealers' families, or... well, you get the picture. An influx of writers-slash-directors who think audiences want to watch them relive their traumatic childhood when all audiences really want are Crocodile Dundee and Kenny driving in a car to go fishing.
This year, however, movies that have been released or are set for release later in the year include musicals (Bran Nue Dae, my review), westerns (Lucky Country, my review), political dramas (Balibo, my review), stoner comedies (Stone Bros.), epics (Mao's Last Dancer), horror ghost stories (Lake Mungo, my review) and period pieces (Bright Star). And there's plenty more where they came from, too.
Why am I still angry then? Shouldn't I be jumping for joy? On one hand I am, but on the other I am not and the reason is that because nobody seems to care. Nobody outside of Australia seems to have taken any notice. Usually when a movie produces the number of excellent product that Australia has this year terms like "renaissance" and "new wave" get thrown about willy nilly. Sure, our movies have won awards at Cannes, Toronto, London and elsewhere, but distributors just don't wanna bite.
How is it that John Malkovich gives the best performance of his career in Disgrace and it can't get a release in America? How can an Oscar-winning short animator produce a star-studded feature that, by all rights, should garner him a Best Animated Feature nomination not get distribution and yet Delgo does? Samson & Delilah has been hailed as one of the very greatest film of all time from this fair land and nobody wants to put it out there. And it's so disappointing to see people whose job it is to see movies like this will snub it just so they can see an American movie that's due for release in two weeks anyway. I'll never understand that about film festivals.
I know I shouldn't bother asking, because I already know the reason. It's because we don't speak French or [insert whatever Asian country is popular right now, probably South Korea]n and whenever we have an auteur like Almodovar or Haneke they jump ship to America. I am sure there are plenty of Spaniards and Austrians out there who wish cinephiles would pay attention to the other films from their home countries. Same goes for everybody else out there who feels their country is under-represented.
So my mission for you dear readers is to let everyone know what movies from your homeland we should all be paying attention to. Have the critics and the press gone wild over a movie or two that nobody outside of your country has even heard of?