December 3, 2008
Laurence Kardish, a senior film curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), will preside over the jury at the Adelaide Film Festival (AFF), which opens in South Australia on February 19.
His fellow jurors are Japanese director Naomi Kawase, festival directors Bill Gosden (New Zealand) and Hannah McGill (Edinburgh), Australian critic David Stratton and the executive producer of the Sydney Theatre Company, Jo Dyer.
The 12-film line-up will be announced on January 23, along with the festival’s full programme. Some programme highlights were revealed today, however, including confirmation of the news that festival director Katrina Sedgwick has opted to celebrate romantic comedies. Alongside new contributions to the genre will be four classics: Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, Woody Allen’s Manhattan , Mitchell Leisen’s Midnight and George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story.
The competition for local premieres can be tough between major festivals in Australia. Adelaide is a fledgling event compared to Melbourne and Sydney but, thanks to the rules around accepting funding from its investment arm, it has six new Australian features next year.
The two keenly-anticipated films from experienced filmmakers are the wry family story My Year Without Sex, Sara Watt’s follow-up to her festival hit and debut film Love My Way, and Kriv Stenders’ Western, Home, the story of an isolated family and three ex-soldiers looking for gold, as seen through 12-year-old eyes. Despite being set in 1902 it was shot on a tiny budget, in the same streamlined way as Stenders’ Boxing Day.
There are two long-awaited debuts by filmmakers that have won international acclaim for their shorts: Glendy Ivin’s Last Ride, about a desperate father (Hugo Weaving), who takes his son on the run with him after committing a violent crime; and Warwick Thornton’s love story Samson & Delilah, about two young Aboriginal teenagers from a remote indigenous community. Ivin made Cracker Bag and Thornton made Green Bush and Nana.
Much curiosity surrounds the fifth feature, My Tehran For Sale, a collaboration between Australia and Iran from writer/director Granaz Moussavi, who describes it as the story of her generation. The sixth feature is Safina Uberoi’s documentary A Good Man, about an Australian farmer, his quadriplegic wife and their new-born baby – and the farmer’s plan to open a brothel in their small country town.
The AFF fund has invested $2.743m in 32 projects including 11 features, since its establishment in 2002.
Crossover Australia for new media practitioners is being held in Adelaide in the lead-in to the festival. The Australian International Documentary Conference coincides with the first few days, and the National Screenwriters’ Conference, in the nearby Barossa Valley, with the last few days. Adelaide is the home to filmmakers Rolf de Heer (Ten Canoes) and Scott Hicks (Shine).