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Posts Tagged ‘the combination’

A Fair Combination?

“Film should act as a mirror to society, it should make people think”

I heard this quote – by Greek director, Carlos Gavros – via Australian film critic, David Stratton, during one of his film history lectures in 2008.  As some time passed, and my passion for cinema matured, this quote (or even mission statement) has become more and more resonant with me.  Film, as a medium, became more than simply a 90 minute cinema experience; it became an experience which got me thinking about the structure of our society.

I recently traveled out to Bankstown (a suburb in Sydney’s west, and one of Australia’s most culturally diverse areas), to see the Australian film ‘The Combination’.  The film is set and shot in another western Sydney suburb, Parramatta.  In fact, it was screened exclusively in these suburbs (apart from one inner-city arthouse cinema) – with distributors deciding that only those residing there would want to see it.

Put simply, ‘The Combination’ is not a technically brilliant film, it will not revolutionise Australian cinema (at least not in the conventional sense).  Yet David Stratton awarded it 4 ½ stars.  This is because the film explores issues both real and relevant – the structure of contemporary Australian society: where we are at as a country, and what the concerns are as the cultural demographics evolve.

‘The Combination’ focuses on the clash of cultures between Lebanese-Australians and white Anglo-Australians.  It is set during 2005, at the time of the infamous race-related riots in Cronulla, in Sydney’s south.  The story – written from personal experience by George Basha – follows the struggle of 2 Lebanese brothers as they try to find their place within Australian society.  Established Australian actor, David Field, directs the film; a role he gravitated towards because he strongly felt that similar social struggles could be understood by Vietnamese-Australians, Indian-Australians, African-Australians, South American-Australians, and so on and so on.  During meetings with George Basha, Field was surprised to learn that Basha had not seen the Australian films he was raising for discussion.  “Why would I, we [Lebanese-Australians] aren’t in any of them”, Basha retorted dismissively.  Field was silenced, as he realised that Australian films were not adequately portraying contemporary Australian stories.  It was this realisation that further solidified his drive to get the film made, despite a total lack of support from the Australian film industry funding bodies.

Australian cinema has a proud history of making quality human dramas; films which can confidently stand up to the esteem of European productions.  It would be great if we can continue this tradition with our eyes and ears open to the constantly changing nature of the structure of our society.  In doing so, we would be inviting our culturally diverse peoples to participate in, and embrace, our film industry.  ‘The Combination’ is one example of a full-length Australian feature film which explores the contemporary issue of racial tensions in Sydney’s western suburbs.  It will also be great when we start to see stories with universal themes (such as love, mistrust, and infidelity) featuring similar minority groups.  I look forward to seeing a ‘Lantana’ set in Bankstown.  Let’s advance Australia with a fair combination of cultures represented in our films.

Article written by Ryan Nance

You can also check out Two Flat Whites interview with one of the stars from The Combination, Clare Bowen here.

Also check out George Basha’s interview here.

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.


Interview with George Basha

Design Federation took time out to speak to George Basha about his new film The Combination, and like the film he holds no punches. George is the writer, one of the main actors & an executive producer. The Combination hits our cinemas on the 26th February 2009.

This is your first foray into film, why did you choose this story?

Look, it was a story that needed to be told. What really got to me the last few years was most of the ethnic films being made have been spoof films (comedy). This story needed to be told because we have issues, not only in the west, but all over Australia – things such as guns, drugs and the biggest issue is racism, all over the world. It’s a powerful story to show what Australia is really like, this is what it really is. Almost everything I see shown on TV (related to this) is a load of crap… This is how I see Australia.

Check out the full interview on Design Federation here.

The Combination World Premiere at Riverside Theatre Parramatta

The Combination saw its world premiere at Parramatta’s Riverside theatre last night, after “seven years in the making”.

Although rain had been expected, it didn’t stop the celebrities from turning out in full force to what might be this year’s sleeper film. Sports stars Anthony Mundine and Hazam El Mazeri, as well as Underbelly’s Gyton Grantley, Matthew Newton and Peter Phelps mingled with the crowd on the red carpet before the screening.

(Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images AsiaPac)

The atmosphere was intense with anticipation, as many people had not seen the preview screenings and had no idea what to expect. We were then ushered into the Riverside’s glorious theatre. Parramatta’s Lord Mayor Tony Issa took the stage for a “short” speech, before John Pirrie, David Field and George Basha held the audience’s attention, outlining the struggle it had been to get The Combination off the ground.

There was a rapturous applause as the final credits rolled and the actors took the stage. The acting from the first timers, especially Rahel Abdul Rahmen, was outstanding. Let’s hope the rest of the country gets behind The Combination.

Lateline Article and Video on The Combination

Article written by Klaus Kinski

The Combination – Coming February 2009

It’s not often you get to see how Australian films are put together. So it was exciting to see how The Combination progressed – from looking for people in a local newspaper, to early rehearsals in a small office space in the middle of Rydalmere (surrounded by industrial sites), and then finally to garnering screenings in some of the biggest cinemas across the country.

Australian films with violent Middle Eastern themes generally don’t have the government rushing to support them, and you would be right in recalling the old adage It’s not what you know. This rings true in most cases and that’s why we see so much rubbish on screen. In any case, it’s no surprise that while HoWARd was in power, funding to the arts diminished at a rate not seen since the great depression.

The Combination was put together with private funding and filmed mainly in Granville, which is why it’s great to see a movie like this finally make its way to the big screen.

The Combination is a story written by and starring George Basha, who grew up in Guildford and who, between stints as a tradesman, has had minor acting roles in other Australian films including Blackrock.

Directed by one of Australia’s most respected actors, David Field, The Combination will be his directorial debut. The film is produced by the lovable screenwriter John Pirrie of See Thru Films.

Filming was completed by none other than Toby Oliver of Looking For Alibrandi fame and was filmed on RED (you can read about it on his blog). The film was edited by Ken Sallows whose work includes the brilliant Australian film Chopper (Hi Chop!). So whatever you might think, you know it will look fantastic.

Will The Combination be anything like Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Café Lumière? No, It will be more like a Takeshi Kitano Flick, say Sonantine. Excitement, violence, and a few kicks!

The Combination is in Cinemas Feb 26th.

Article brought to you from our friends at Design Federation.

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