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Sunday, 15 April 2018

CINEMA REBORN - Two short films to accompany debut features

Cinema Reborn is presenting two short films as part of its 2018 program. 

Michael Thornhill's 1974 feature Between Wars will be accompanied by a screening of Thornhill's 1969 short The American Poet's Visit, an adaptation of Frank Moorhouse's story of the same name which had appeared in the author's first book 'Futility and Other Animals'. Thornhill and writer Ken Quinnell adapted the story.

Frank Moorhouse
In the printed Cinema Reborn catalogue (free to subscribers, $10 otherwise) there will appear a specially written memoir by Frank Moorhouse recording his life as a writer for the film industry. The following paragraphs are part of a much longer piece.

"In 1968, Michael approached me about using a short story of mine The American Poet’s Visit for a short movie. He paid me for the rights with a bottle of Moet champagne. He directed and co-wrote it with Ken Quinnell, who was producer, and they made The American Poet’s Visit  which is fairly faithful to the story (1969, 20 mins/16 mins – there is some confusion, maybe two versions (?), 16mm, bw, budget of $900). The 25–year old Russell Boyd shot it and Lloyd Coleman did the sound.

Karl Foudrinier, Darcy Waters, The American Poet's Visit
"The American Poet’s Visit was set among the Sydney Libertarian Push, some of whom acted or were extras in the film along with some filmniks. The film and story recreate a visit to Australia by the American poet, Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) an anarchist, pacifist, member of the IWW, and labelled ‘Father of the Beats’ by Time magazine. The film satirizes Rexroth and, as well, the embarrassing, immature difficulties we had in socializing with a famous poet. There may be some perverse cultural cringe in it. I hope to god, in reality we treated Rexroth and ourselves, better."

Shadi Abdel Salam made The Night of Counting the Years in 1969 and the restoration by Cineteca di Bologna appeared in 2015 now recognized as the greatest film ever from the Arab world. Abdel Salam's only other dramatic film is the short film The Eloquent Peasant. Rod Bishop's notes on the film include the following:

Shadi Abdel Salam
Pieced together from several differing versions, The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant was written in classical Middle Egyptian and composed around 2200 BC. A combined folk story, morality play and poem, it tells of the peasant Khunanup and his donkey who stumble into lands owned by the nobleman Rensi. Khunanup’s possessions are stolen but he is accused of theft. He pleads his case to the Pharaoh, who is impressed by the peasant’s speech. Although realizing Khunanup has been wronged, Pharaoh withholds judgement so he can listen, over and over again, to the peasant’s remarkable eloquence.
Each plea by Khunanup to Pharaoh becomes another variation on the concept of Maat. Variously translated as status quo, truth, justice, order and righteousness, Maat transcends mere human existence and is part of Ancient Egyptian cosmological thought.
Khunanup is played by Ahmed Marei, the young Egyptologist from The Night of Counting the Years.
The World Cinema Foundation and Bologna’s Cinema Ritrovato used the original 35mm camera and sound negatives preserved at the Egyptian Film Centre in Cairo to produce a new 35mm inter-negative for digital restoration. 

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