Friday 14 August 2020

The Film Group commences publication of a free monthly e-Newsletter with a focus on experimentation, underground film, artists’ moving image and ethnographic projects.

 Angelica Waite writes:

The film screening project I started with some friends last year is starting a monthly eNewsletter with short written contributions. We are calling it The Film Group Monthly Reading (Something for us to do while in current situation !)  

Its spread right across the page so it would easier if you click here to  view it in your browser 

Due To...

This e-newsletter was written on the stolen-never-ceded lands of the Gadigal, Wurundjeri, Gaibal & Jarrowair peoples. 

The Film Group is a collaborative film screening and online publication project. We aim to facilitate screenings and conversation around local and international cinema and video works, with a focus on experimentation, underground film, artists’ moving image and ethnographic projects. We are excited to share with you the first issue of The Film Group Monthly Reading.

The Film Group aims to feature contributions from people with diverse backgrounds and expertise who share an interest in and passion for cinema.  For our first screening, we presented the Australian premier of Linefork (2016)an observational documentary made in collaboration with the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, directed by Vic Rawlings and Jeff SilvaThe screening took place at Archies in Sydney, home to artist-run film-making group Workshop for Potential Cinema. To those who came along, thank you so much for your support on the night. We haven't forgotten about it. If you missed it, you can read an interview by co-director Vic Rawlings that appeared in a program booklet we put out to accompany the screening at the bottom of this email. In future, The Film Group wishes to be able to host more screenings, however, due to the way the world is at the moment, it's something that will have to wait. In the meantime, please feel free to share this monthly reading with your friends and family. If you would like to contribute to an issue, please email





Interview: Mahmood Fazal
Greta Balog

Two films about Aboriginal Women by Aboriginal Women
Mardi Reardon- Smith

Letters to Max
Angelica Waite



The Film Group contributor Mardi Reardon-Smith's  first film, A Love Letter to the North, has been selected for the University of Colorado Boulder's inaugural Mimesis Documentary Festival, screening between 12-18 August 2020. More information 

A love letter to the North

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The Film Group.

Interview and artwork by Greta Balog


From biker gangs to prison, Mahmood Fazal is a Walkley award-winning writer on a mission to advocate for the voices we don’t hear. After abandoning his role as the sergeant-at-arms of the Mongols Motorcycle Club, Mahmood has devoted his life to bare-knuckle stories that challenge our views on crime, violence, imprisonment and radicalisation. Mahmood is currently writing a memoir, due to be published by Harper Collins in 2021. His journalism has appeared in The Monthly, VICE, The Saturday Paper, i-D, Noisey and AJ+. 
From Mahmood Fazal's website

Recently you directed a video clip for HP Boyz called 'Out Here'. How did this opportunity present itself to you?

I approached HP Boyz about a documentary for VICE. I wanted to make a follow-up to the OneFour documentary by focusing on the policing of drill music in Australia. Now that VICE Australia has effectively shut down its entire video department, I doubt the film will ever be made. However, HP.Hoodlum, the manager of HP Boyz, contacted me to pitch some ideas for a music video. I offered to make something that celebrated the area and culture we grew up in, the video for "Out Here" is the result.

Can you elaborate on the policing of drill music in Australia?

The NSW police have banned drill rappers from performing live because they believe drill music propels gang crime among young people.

Tell me about the experience of directing, generally speaking and in particular this project. 

I only like working as a director with small crews. I have a hard time dictating my vision, so I prefer to work with like-minded close friends who can wrap their heads around the aesthetic pretty quickly. With this project, I worked closely with the rappers to let them express their hood in a way that felt natural to them and nostalgic to anyone from our areas who might watch it - which was why we incorporated train stations, Holden VL Turbos, Polo Sport and trap houses. To outsiders it may seem stylized, to us it's just suburban nostalgia.

Tell me about your hood. 

I grew up in Dandenong, a small suburban city of migrants. Since 9/11, and the American war in Afghanistan, our suburb has become well populated with Afghan refugees. We have a street full of Afghan shops, restaurants and bakeries.

Have there been any good cinematic representations of Dandenong that you know of? Or Melbourne in general?

I believe there was a short film that screened in Cannes set in Dandenong. But I’ve never seen it. The best depiction of the Melbourne I recognise would be in Hail by Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Chopper by Andrew Dominic, Animal Kingdom by Dave Michod and Romper Stomper by Geoffrey Wright. And the Wog Boy by Aleksi Vellis.

You told me recently that you used to be a curator for a film program at the Australian Center for Moving Image - what was this experience like?

I was fresh out of film school when I curated a Middle Eastern film program for ACMI. Richard Sowada was the curator back then, and he gave me the gig because I was showing obscure Middle Eastern films to friends at the VCA.

What were some of the films you programmed?

It was in the wake of the Egyptian revolution, so I showed a film made by activists about that called 18 Days, which screened at Cannes the same year. From memory, we had a Paradjanov film, Climates by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Crimson Gold and I think we screened something by Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

Tell me about your favourite directors

There are too many. I grew up watching Bollywood films, like Devdas and Laila Majnun with my mum so I became obsessed with melodrama from an early age. I love the films of Douglas Sirk, which led me to Rainer Fassbinder. I love poetic stuff by Claire Denis, I think she might be the best filmmaker alive. I love the transcendental stuff like Tarkovksy and Bela Tarr. Bela Tarr geographically led me to Aki Kaurismaki, who is funny, dark and weird. I was obsessed with Brando from a young age, he was terrifying and beautiful. I watched all of his films religiously. Terror and beauty led me to Kenneth Anger. Anger's use of colour led me to Christopher Doyle who led me to early Wong Kar Wai - opening up Asian cinema in a big way, like Apichatpong, Hou Hsiao Hsien and of course master OZU. I just kept going around in circles. I don't watch films as much anymore though. There's too many options and too many shit ones. Although I loved the Souvenir by Joanna Hogg.

Do you have any film projects in the pipeline?

I'm currently writing a fictional crime series based on interviews with a Melbourne hitman.

What's your favourite cinema in Melbourne and why?

The Waverley Cinema. It’s just got that 80s feel that most of the cinemas I first went to, in the 90s, across suburban Victoria still had an atmosphere of...imagine stale popcorn, soft drinks without ice and neon lights.


By Mardi Reardon-Smith
The recent groundswell of support for the Bla(c)k Lives Matter movement and rallies demanding accountability for the 438 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives lost in custody has brought issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the mainstream. A lot of non-Indigenous people are moving towards a critical engagement with their own culpability in the colonial project, as well as a desire to learn more about Indigenous peoples, cultures, histories and struggles. As such, for this issue I wanted to briefly highlight two beautiful films about Aboriginal women, made by Aboriginal women. Both are available to stream online either for free, or for a small fee.
Eight Ladies by Dena Curtis (2010). Available to stream via Kanopy 
If you don’t have Kanopy, also available to rent for $5.38 
Eight Ladies is a short observational documentary which follows eight women from Alyawarr Country in the Sandover River region in central Australia, about 250km north of Alice Springs, on a five-day trip to hunt and gather bush foods. The women hunt for echidna and dig for bush potatoes, as they laugh together, tell stories about how they learnt to access these foods and reflect on how things have changed over time.
Dena Curtis is Waramungu, Warlpiri and Arrernte woman and a filmmaker who, according to Ronin Films, ‘has edited many CAAMA documentaries, and far too rarely makes her own films’. Learn a little more about her.
  Nice Coloured Girls by Tracey Moffatt (1987). Available to stream for free
Nice Coloured Girls is a kind of lyrical visual essay on relationships between Aboriginal women and White men. A night out for three Aboriginal women in King’s Cross, on which they seek out an inebriated & creepy ‘captain’ (rich White man) to bankroll their night in a satisfying form of redistributive justice, is interspersed with sobering extracts from the diary of colonist Lieutenant William Bradley. The colonial account paints a picture of Aboriginal women as passive and submissive. It includes the misreading of a ritual in which a newborn baby with a European father is passed through smoke for protection as a naive attempt by the mother to darken the baby’s skin. This narrative is beautifully turned inside out by the savvy and cynical young women who knowingly play a role for the captain and achieve their desired result.
Tracey Moffatt is an internationally renowned Aboriginal visual artist and filmmaker. Her other films include Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy and Bedevil.


By Angelica Waite 

Eric Baudelaire’s LETTERS TO MAX (2014) is a film about Abkhazia, a de facto state that sits between Russia, Georgia and the Black Sea. Abkhazia is a territory with borders, a government, a language, a capital city and a national flag, but it is not a recognised Nation State. While Abkhazia declared independence in 1999, the majority of countries recognise the region to be a part of Georgia. Letters to Max overlays images of Abkhazia’s landscape, buildings and people with an audio track of a letter correspondence between the filmmaker and Maxim Gvinjia, former Foreign Minister of Abkhazia. The film is available to stream online through


We are shown the corner of a map – the edge of a landmass and a body of water. Our proximity to the map makes it difficult to determine the scale of the land represented. Are the dark lines roads? Or river systems, perhaps? Travelling across the surface we look for points of reference. Here the green shadow for the recess of a valley; white for a snow-capped peak; a ribbon of yellow for a coastline. Landscape and territory miniaturized and condensed into aerially recognisable markers.
The red arrows, the bold and broken lines, the small and larger dots identifying cities and towns and the compass that sits at the corner of the map are all recognisable symbols. There is a sense of assurance and finality leant to these cartographic symbols and shapes; the arrows, grids and lines common to maps of regions and territories carry with them an impression of meticulous scientific measurement and precision. The demarcations and lettering sitting neatly on the surface of a map can begin to seem fixed to the landscape depicted; as though the lines and shapes that act as indicators are actually embedded in the mountain ranges, valleys, plains and beaches they mark.
In the careful attention Letters to Max pays to maps like the one described above, the film asks us to look closely at the representations we use to delimit and categorise landscape and territory. A line that appears clear and decisive might be found to be blurred and indistinct at the edges when viewed close-up.

I’m reminded of something I read in a Luigi Ghirri photo book my sister gave to me. The author draws a parallel between Ghirri’s photographs of isolated details in an Atlas and a sentiment expressed by novelist and essayist Georges Perec. Perec writes about perceiving the earth as a form of writing, “a geography of which we had forgotten that we ourselves are the authors.” The typed words, symbols and markers Ghirri photographs become abstract in isolation. Loosened from the context of the map, these details can be seen more clearly for what they are: tools of representation in an authored landscape.
                                   Luigi Ghirri, Atlante, 1973. 
Letters to Max similarly reminds us to think about and dwell on the authoring of geography.
In the close observation of maps of Abkhazia’s contested boundaries; in the recurrent focus on emblematic symbols of the de facto state’s claim to nationhood; independence and territory, in the collated images of the officially unrecognised national flag hanging proudly from windows, on walls and printed on souvenir store T-shirts, we are prompted to think about the historically fraught and emotionally complex nature of this authoring process.



Linefork (2016)

A Film by Vic Rawlings and Jeff Silva


Interview reprinted in October 2019 in The Film Group program booklet

Read more about the film here

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