Documentary maker Bob Connolly joins peers including Scott Hicks, Phillip Noyce, Tom Jeffrey, Fred Schepisi and Peter Weir as recipient of the outstanding achievement award for a body of work. The former ABC journalist made his name with several documentaries produced with his wife, Robin Anderson (who died in 2002), including Oscar-nominated First Contact, Joe Leahy’s Neighbours and Rats in the Ranks. He has recently completed his sixth feature documentary, Mrs Carey’s Concert. Tony Tilse, a director on the first three series of Underbelly as well as City Homicide, Lockie Leonard, All Saints, Police Rescue, Scorched and Postcard Bandit, will receive the Michael Carson Award for excellence in television drama production. And the first assistant director’s award will go to Chris Webb, who since 1985 has worked as first assistant director on 35 feature films, including The Shiralee, Farscape and the upcoming Red Dog and Oranges and Sunshine.
THERE’S a rare occurrence this weekend in the US , with three Australian films simultaneously in release. Mao’s Last Dancer continues to lead the pack, adding another $US340,000 ($364,000) for a total box office there of $US2.2 million. It is holding its box office on 102 screens, as is David Michod’s Animal Kingdom, which is accruing strong reviews and is now on 61 screens. It added another $US110,000 for a total box office of $US718,873. The new release is this year’s highest-grossing Australian film, Bran Nue Dae, starring Jessica Mauboy, Geoffrey Rush and Dan Sultan, which opened on 16 screens for an opening weekend of $US23,527. Hopefully it can build a niche audience as successfully as the former movies and set up solid DVD releases.
IT seems likely Bran Nue Dae will lose its place as the highest-grossing Australian film so far in 2010 to Stuart Beattie’s adaptation of John Marsden’s novel Tomorrow, When The War Began. The teen action film earned another $2m over the weekend to get to $7.1m. Bran Nue Dae’s box office this year reached $7.5m. New releases Despicable Me and The Other Guys took the top two spots at the Australian box office during the weekend, the animated comedy earning $3.2m for a $4.9m total box office and the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg comedy earning $2.7m. The other big new release, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, earned $1.2m. The special edition re-release of Avatar didn’t work in Australia, dropping off the top 20 list after adding only another $500,000 to its $115m take.
AFTER a few years in which the curious Asia Pacific Screen Awards have found it difficult to cut through, because many prizes were awarded to unscreened films from the region, this year’s batch of entries may find greater public recognition. Already the entries for the 2010 APSAs have a more familiar look. Which is not to say they are the best films from the region. Nevertheless, the entries are recognisable and accessible to Australian audiences at least, whether through the festival circuit this year or even in coming commercial release. Australian entrants include Animal Kingdom, The Tree and upcoming animation Legends of the Guardians: Owls of Ga’Hoole. New Zealand’s wonderful Boy is entered, as are the Thai Palme d’Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the highest grossing Chinese film, Feng Xiaogang’s Aftershock, Venice International Film Festival Silver Lion winner Women Without Men by Iranian director Shirin Neshat, and Golden Lion winner Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon. Also likely to feature at the awards, to be held on the Gold Coast on December 2, are Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, which recently premiered in Venice, India’s 3 Idiots, and Berlin film festival Golden Bear winner Honey, directed by Turkey’s Semih Kaplanoglu. All up, more than 230 films from 40 countries have entered. Nominees will be announced next month.
THE usually Oz-friendly Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea has chosen six Australian feature films and an Australian short to screen this year. The UK-Australian co-production Oranges and Sunshine will have its world premiere in the World Cinema section next to Ivan Sen’s experimental Dreamland and Ben C. Lucas’s break-out debut, Wasted on the Young. The Korean world premiere of Oranges and Sunshine is a weird fit considering the film is a very Anglo tale about the organised deportation to Australia of British children held in care. It stars Emily Watson, David Wenham and Hugo Weaving. Belinda Chayko’s Lou will screen in the Flash Forward section for first or second films from up-and-coming filmmakers from non-Asian countries. Patrick Hughes’ western thriller Red Hill gets more exposure in Pusan’s Midnight Passion program and Ashlee Page’s short film The Kiss will have its international premiere in the Wide Angle section. The festival opens on October 7.