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Posts Tagged ‘Film’

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Pene Patrick talks with Two Flat Whites

Writer/Director Pene Patrick feels that truth should be at the heart of good Australian cinema.  Her debut film, Playing for Charlie, delves into the life of working-class Melbourne teenager, Tony Hobbs, as he struggles to find a balance between caring for his dependent family, and pursuing a rare opportunity for personal triumph.

An important new voice has emerged in the Australian film industry – one that looks poised to tear apart the current model of chasing the next blockbuster and set about creating a culturally-enriching body of work.

Two Flat Whites chats with Pene Patrick…

TFW:  Playing for Charlie is a humble film but it’s very strong in heart.  This is your directorial debut for a feature-length film.  You also wrote the screenplay.  Have you always written from such raw emotional territory?

Pene Patrick:  Well I think I’ll always go to the heart of a character.  That’s when I most lose interest in a film, when they haven’t gone to the heart of a character, and instead they’re being used to comment on something.

TFW:  How did you develop your writing?

Well it developed through my acting training which involved a very intense and serious training period in New York.  I was taught to look for the truth of humanity and the truth of the character in a situation.

TFW:  The actor who plays Tony Hobbs, Jared Daperis, resonates on the screen.  He seems an odd choice for the part, but it really pays off.  Was this intentional?

I think I cast him because he’s not a stereotype.  I see a lot of stereotypes in Australian films.  He has an international universality about him.  The thing that really excited me is that he has a boy / man quality: a wisdom.  He was an embodiment of everything I was trying to do in the film.

TFW:  I think his performance guides the wonderful score, written by Lisa Gerrard.

Yes her score is a character in the film, that’s what I love about it.  She’s brought another level to the narrative.  She’s come in and given a lovely river for everything to flow.

TFW:  It reminded me of Jane Campion’s ‘Bright Star’ in that respect.

Oh lovely, thank you.

TFW:  Audiences for Playing for Charlie are responding positively to the optimism in the film.  I did too, although I found some elements melancholic, particularly the Thomas Gray poetry whispered at one point; “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen”.  I felt this line reflected the fate of many disadvantaged young Australians: kids who don’t have the full opportunities to explore their talents.

Yes that was the core note from which the film sprung from.  But I also want the audience to see that it’s not always the case and that it is possible to move forward.  Tony is so certain and has a solid rock faith which I attribute to his upbringing and his relationship with his father.  These are good elements in this boy from a working-class background.  It’s actually a very positive statement about working-class values, so it’s very uplifting in that way.

TFW:  Producer Jan Chapman recently encouraged Australian film-makers to be “courageous and challenging,” and to “keep an Australian national spirit whilst appealing to an international audience.”  Do you agree with her?

Yes, and I think the issues in Playing for Charlie are universal.  It transcends race, class, and spirituality.  Tony’s boy to man journey is everyone’s journey.  It’s such a crucial time, the boy to man phase.  Playing for Charlie is about the struggle to protect that which is really vulnerable in us – whether that is our sex, or our race, or our art.

TFW:  Do you think films can make a difference?

Yes they get the issues out there.  Playing for Charlie explores the difficulties relating to young carers.  Since the film opened we have had a letter from the Minister for Health’s office – two years ago they provided a lot more resources and money to aid young carers.  Radio National has done a program on young carers.  There are thousands of people in Tony Hobbs’ situation in Australia so it’s important to tell these honest stories and bring greater awareness.

Playing for Charlie is in limited theatrical release at the Cinema Nova in Carlton, Melbourne.

Interview by Ryan Nance.

Coffin Rock tickets sent out!

Our competition for the Coffin Rock movie tickets has now closed. Thank you to everyone that entered we had an overwhelming response. The winners are listed below and your prizes will be sent this week. Thanks again to Jameson PR for your generous support!

P.Matheos – Penshurst, NSW
S. Leong – Randwick, NSW
E. Bakkalis – Dingley Village, VIC
D. Hadiwibawa – Narellan Vale, NSW
J.Emmerson – Putney, NSW
L.Limas – Kardinya, WA
T.Lee – Concord, NSW
S.Southwell – Seaton, SA
R.Sheridan – Port Macquarie, NSW
N.Fenwick – Burney, TAS

Sydney Underground Film Festival 2009

The 2009 Sydney Underground Film Festival will take place from Thursday 10 September to Sunday 13 September at Sydney’s popular underground haunt, The Factory Theatre.

The Sydney Underground Film Festival provides a platform for exhibition, exposure and critical discussion and is organised by a committed group of filmmakers, who understand the need for a sustainable and thriving alternative film culture. The organisers are devoted to renewing local interest in independent and experimental film as part of an international underground film culture.

The festival will only program unique, quality independent films that transgress the status quo and challenge the conservative conventions of filmmaking. The festival aims to change an engrained culture of cinematic complacency and revitalize an enthusiasm for cinema.

Melbourne Underground Film Festival 2009

The Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) is back to celebrate MUFF X – the festival’s prestigious tenth year of championing alternative cinema in Melbourne. MUFF is thrilled to announce its highly anticipated 2009 lineup and full schedule of events.

Opening night at the newly converted Embassy will deliver Into the Shadows – a fascinating and important documentary about the state of this country’s film industry and the challenges faced by Australian independent cinema throughout the past century. It features interviews by Rolf De Heer (The Tracker), George Miller (Mad Max), Andrew Denton, and many more film practitioners and representatives.

The 2009 festival programmers are proud to present a selection of exciting and provocative pictures from interstate, overseas, and many from the festival’s home town of Melbourne. MUFF may be the only chance Melbourne audiences will have to see many of these films.

Local highlights include Sleeper – a thriller starring wrestler Scott ‘Raven’ Levy as a mute serial killer with an aversion to daylight, Eraser Children, an ambitious and absorbing sci-fi flick set in a futuristic dystopia, and Carmilla Hyde, a darkly seductive twist on the traditional Jekyll & Hyde story. International highlights include Impolex, the bizarre story of a WWII soldier in search of undetonated German missiles, and Modern Love is Automatic, a comedy about an apathetic nurse who moonlights as a dominatrix.

MUFF X will run from Saturday 22nd August until Sunday 30th August 2009. This year’s venues will be Noise, Loop, Glitch, and the Embassy (the old QBH).

My Year Without Sex – Sarah Watt interview

Our friends at 3CR interviewed writer and director Sarah Watt in her new Australian film ‘My Year Without Sex’. Starring Matt Day and Sacha Horler, if you are looking for a laugh, the humour is wry and infectious.

‘My Year Without Sex’ comes out in Australian cinemas on the 28th of May. How are preparations going in the lead up to release? Is anticipation building?

Yeah, I think so. We had some preview screenings this weekend. So, people are starting to see it, which is very exciting – and nerve wracking!

I happened to catch one of those preview screenings and I’m happy to report that there was a lot of laughter in the cinema – at all the right parts.

That’s good! That’s very good.

The title of the film came from the fact that you didn’t want to direct another sex scene – why is that the case?

It came out of a joke about directing sex scenes. I think they’re very hard to do well. Often, they’re done really badly. It’s hard not to be clichéd so; I didn’t want to try, because I don’t think I’m a good enough director. But then, how do you make a film without a sex scene in it? You just call it, ‘My Year Without Sex’! So, it was kind of a joke at the start but in the end it worked really well with the content and the themes that I wanted to explore about consumerism and anxiety and all those things. Sex kind of belongs in there.


Dungog Film Festival – Allanah Zitserman

The Dungog Film Festival is an annual 4-day festival held in the cosy northern NSW town of Dungog – in the Hunter Valley region.  It screens only Australian movies (both unreleased and classics), and puts an emphasis on bringing the film-maker and the film-goer together.  As the festival is about to launch into its 3rd year (28th May to 31st May 2009), Two Flat Whites had a chat to festival director and co-founder, Allanah Zitserman.

First of all, the whole concept of the Dungog Film Festival (DFF) is just so un-pretentious and refreshing. The relaxed and welcoming vibe you guys have created feels very Australian, was this exactly how you and Stavros Kazantzidis (co-founder of the DFF) envisioned it to be? How did this idea come about?

Yes, this was the basis of our original vision for the event. Stavros and I came at it from two key perspectives; the filmmaker and the Aussie filmgoer. We thought about what would we want from an Australian film festival and four key things sprung to mind. One was that we wanted an event that was non-competitive, stripped of any rivalry. We felt that just having the opportunity to be a part of the local film industry was a prize in itself. We also felt that in order to move into the future of cinema we needed a context of our past and that was the reason for showcasing films from the past and including established filmmakers in the program. We wanted an event outside of the hustle and bustle in a friendly relaxed environment. Finally we wanted to put the focus on the dynamic and diverse and extremely valuable Australian film industry. With these four ingredients we hoped that we would create a completely original event that helped bridge the gap between filmmakers and filmgoers and at the same time bring the film community closer together.

It sounds like the entire population of Dungog embraces the festival with open arms. In fact, with only 50 actual tourist beds in the town, the people of Dungog offer cheap accommodation for visitors, in their own homes.  Shop-keepers adorn their window-fronts with Australian film-themed displays.  Cinema has always had the potential to create a feeling of unity amongst a community.  Do you feel the giant multiplex cinemas so prevalent today have taken away some of that purity, or magic?

We are very lucky to have such a great community to work with in Dungog and their commitment and involvement in the festival has been part of what makes it so unique.  There is something magical about going to a community cinema, whereas multiplexes provide a very different experience for cinemagoers. I think that each has a place in today’s society but there’s no doubt that with community cinemas there is an intimate feeling like you’re going to a friends place to watch a film which is refreshing.

Whilst the DFF seems to be all about relaxing and watching movies in a picturesque country town, it is also a great opportunity for film-makers to build some hype on their unreleased films. The buzz surrounding the screening of ‘The Jammed’ at last year’s festival went a long way to securing national distribution for the film. What has this meant for the level of interest you now receive from film-makers, as well as distributors?

The festival is set up for helping build a healthier local industry. It aims to connect screen industry practitioners and give films looking for distribution a platform to be discovered.  Dungog achieves significant national coverage and can be very useful in assisting distributors with their release strategies. Last year Unfinished Sky was included in 85% of national coverage achieved for the event. This contributed to the film becoming the second highest Australian-produced box office earner of 2008. The level of interest from filmmakers that don’t have distribution has increased but the distributors are still playing it safe choosing city based festivals over Dungog. I believe this will change as the festival matures.

Speaking of distribution, I read that you and Stavros started your own film distribution company, the Australian Film Syndicate (AFS), as a result of the growing success of the DFF. The AFS handled the distribution for the recent Australian film ‘The Combination’. The film was only screened in specific suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne – areas in which you felt people would be interested to see the film. This is quite an original strategy. Do you feel that it worked well for ‘The Combination’, and will this be a strategy the AFS will use into the future?

The strategy for The Combination was very effective. The film was the Number 1 earner against US product at the NSW sites it was playing in its first few weeks.  We believe that each film requires a very unique strategy that makes sense to reaching its desired audience. AFS is not interested in formula distribution it carefully constructs its release strategies specifically to the target audiences.

It’s no secret that the relationship between the Australian film industry and the general Australian population isn’t very healthy. Over the last 10 years, just 4% of Australia’s box office revenue has come from Australian films.  Do you see a positive future for our film industry?

There’s no denying it has been a pretty bad few years for the Aussie film industry. I do believe that things are changing and we are already seeing that with the strength of the work being released in 2009. I also am encouraged about the marketing focus being made by Screen Australia. I’ve always felt part of the issue is the fragmentation within the local community.  Part of the reason Stavros and I decided to start the festival was to help build bonds within the film community. Encouraging dialogue, making real connections and being honest with each other will help us inspire each other creatively and together we will find ways to help build a healthier industry.

Final question – what were some your personal highlights of last year’s festival, and what are you most excited about for this year?

The opening night with Unfinished Sky was a real winner as was the NSW Mining’s party on Saturday Night — people are still talking about it.  The whole program this year is super exciting. I can’t wait for audiences to sink their teeth into it.

Dungog is located 228 km north of Sydney – 3 hours by car or train.  You can find all ticketing, accommodation and festival program information on the official Dungog Film Festival website.  We hope to see you there!

Interview by Ryan Nance.

Sydney Underground Film Festival – Call for Entries

The Sydney Underground Film Festival is dedicated to nurturing an alternative film culture through the promotion of independent and experimental films. The festival seeks to support filmmakers who operate outside established film industry infrastructures, by providing a platform for exhibition, exposure and critical discussion.

Have you made a film? Made several? Or are you currently in the midst of making one? It’s time once again for filmmakers everywhere to submit their films to the annual Sydney Underground Film Festival. Working hard to provide a suitable arena for screening the artistic, the subversive, the experimental, the entertaining, and the politically ground-breaking, the festival welcomes all film submissions with no restrictions on genre, style, length, or year of production.

Early deadline: Friday 24th April 2009
Regular deadline: Friday 29th May 2009

Academy Award winner Adam Elliot stops by!

Two Flat Whites caught up with Academy Award winner Adam Elliot. Adam has won an AFI award for his Short Animated Film ‘Uncle’. He also won his Academy Award in 2003 for his Animated Short Film, ‘Harvie Krumpet’. Adam’s films have participated in over 500 film festivals and they have won over one hundred awards. You can catch his new film ‘Mary & Max’ which he directed at cinemas from the 9th April 2009.

Where did you grow up & where do you hang your hat?

After 5 years on a prawn farm in outback South Australia we moved to the suburb of Mount Waverley in Melbourne. But now I hang my hat in Windsor.

In your own words, what do you do?

I tell stories……and never let the truth get in the way.

Where did you learn your craft?

My kindergarten teacher, my Art teacher Graham Bennett at Haileybury College, Sarah Watt and Robert Stephenson at the VCA and all the wonderful lecturers at the Brighton Bay Art and Design School.

Who inspires you?

My pugs, Barry & Kevin.

Childhood Memories:

TV Show – The Muppet Show
Hobby – Drawing & making things out of egg cartons & pipe cleaners
Food – Lolly gobble bliss bombs & sweetened condensed milk
Fear – The Werewolf from the film The American Werewolf in London
People – The Two Ronnies & Dame Edna
Defining moment – When my friend Brett Krueger told me there was no such thing as Santa.

Schooling memories, chore or cherished?


Where is the most beautiful place in Australia you have visited?

The Pinewood Independent Cinema in Mt Waverley where I went every Saturday as a child.

From the hours of 9am to 5pm, what do you get up too?

Immersing myself in all things Plasticine.

Who are your favourite film personalities? And is there anyone we should keep a look out for in Australia?

Jan Swankmayer, surrealist stop-motion genius in Czechoslovakia. In Australia, our Mary and Max cinematographer Gerald Thompson, also a brilliant writer.

Where can people see your work?

Check newspapers for details! – In cinemas April 9.

For love or money?

Depends how drunk I am

What future endeavors are in the pipeline?

Finishing drawing my kids book. So far it’s taken me 15 years!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Raising pugs on a farm in Daylesford

If you could invite 3 people to chat over coffee, who would they be & why?

Barry Humphries, Michael Leunig & Marcel Marceau – to ask their thoughts on iphones.

Coffee or Tea?

Earl Grey.

Mary & Max film giveaway

Two Flat Whites have ten (10) double passes to giveaway for the new Australian claymated film featuring the voices of Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Eric Bana.


MARY AND MAX is a Claymation feature film from the creators of the Academy Award ® winning short animation Harvie Krumpet.

It is a simple tale of pen-friendship between two very different people; Mary Dinkle, a chubby lonely eight year old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a 44 year old, severely obese, Jewish man with Asperger’s Syndrome living in the chaos of New York.

Spanning 20 years and 2 continents, Mary and Max’s friendship survives much more than the average diet of life’s ups and downs. Like Harvie Krumpet, Mary and Max is innocent but not naive, as it takes us on a journey that explores friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual difference, trust, copulating dogs, religious difference, agoraphobia and much much more.

Only at the movies April 9, 2009

If you would like to win the tickets, please email your name & postal address to info {at} twoflatwhites(.)com

Competition closes Sunday, 5th April 2009.

Clare Bowen talks about film, life and what’s next!

Two Flat Whites caught up with actress Clare Bowen. Clare recently starred in the feature film ‘’The Combination’ which explores the lives of Lebanese youths and their struggle with violence, racism and social identity. Clare was a shining light starring along side George Basha and guided extremely well by David Field in his first film as a director.

Where did you grow up & where do you hang your hat?

I grew up all over the place. My parents both worked for Qantas when I was little, and so smuggled me along with them most of the time. Childhood was spent between overseas, Sydney where I went to school, and down the South coast of NSW, Stanwell Park, which was home. I’ve moved further down the coast since and now live on the Minnamurra River.

Tell us a bit about your latest movie – The Combination?

Well, it seems to have caught people’s attention for a few different reasons! It’s not a timid film. It’s a love story about honour, family, the choices you have to make, and the reality of consequence. David Field and George Basha portray a beautiful facet of the culture in Sydney’s Western Suburbs that a lot of people don’t get to see, but they don’t shy away from showing the audience how rough life can get, just because of the colour of your skin. David unearthed a group of very talented individuals to play the boys – some of whom are first time actors! They brought a beautifully unique dimension to the film.

What inspired you to become involved with The Combination?

Inspired? Well I nearly expired when I got a call from David Field offering me the role of Sydney! Couldn’t believe it, rang him and John Pirrie back twice to make sure they weren’t pulling my leg. It was just the type of thing that happens to other people. I never imagined that I’d have the opportunity to work with such an exceptional group of people as the cast and crew of The Combination.

I had a lot of fun playing Sydney. She’s not a typical fatalist – she’s awkward, flawed, occasionally ignorant, but at the same time very forward thinking and independent. She’s comfortable in her own skin, but an obvious black sheep in her family. Sort of like a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit. Displaced, not so unlike the Lebanese characters in the film, who get called Aussie in one environment, and Wog in another. I can only hope I did her justice. David Field gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when he offered her to me.

Tell us about the cast & crew. What was the vibe like on set?

Always exciting! It was my first time on a film set, but I didn’t even get the chance to be nervous because there were so many seasoned professionals around me like Toby Oliver, Doris Younane and David Field, who were so wonderfully generous with advice and guidance. The cast was hilarious, the crew was hard working but easy going, there was never, ever a negative vibe on set. Everyone hung out with everyone – very much like family, but without the crazy uncle no one talks about.

There were many themes including racism and violence. In your opinion, what were the major messages portrayed by the movie?

Because the film employs such realism, ultimately it’s left to the audience to make up their own minds about the story they’ve just been a part of. But the film shows the futility of violence, it throws the every day injustice of the real world right at your feet. The heartbreak and fury I’ve witnessed different audiences experience whilst watching some scenes in the film is indicative of a common understanding. The film’s moral standing is organic, like life – lots of grey areas.


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