Thursday 11 May 2023

AT THE SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL – Retrospectives and Restorations (Part One)- JANE CAMPION, AFTRS STUDENT FILMS, HAIRSPRAY (John Waters, USA) and THE DEVIL QUEEN (Antonio Carlos da Fontoura, Brazil, 1973)

A wealth of retrospective material goes on show at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. Here’s a rundown of most of the material but there will be a separate additional post on the most intriguing small sidebar of all. More later though you can probably deduce what it is if you just trawl down the SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL WEBSITE


50 Years of AFTRS

A selection of restored short films of Australia's premier filmmakers and alumni of the Australian Film Television and Radio School. 

Phillip Noyce


In 1973 when The Australian Film Television and Radio School was founded, their inaugural Chair, Barry Jones, implored that the school must be “a revolutionary force” in Australian culture. To mark their 50th anniversary, AFTRS are celebrating their revolutionary spirit and legacy, on palpable display in this incredible program of short films from their esteemed alumni. This selection includes restored films from the class of ’73 – Gillian Armstrong, Phillip Noyce and Chris Noonan – alongside Ivan Sen, Jane Campion, Cate Shortland, Robert Connolly, Sue Brooks, and Catriona McKenzie’s remarkable first forays into filmmaking. To make a booking for this session CLICK HERE



The Complete Jane Campion

A brief glance at most biographies of Jane Campion will mention the same landmark awards – she was the first woman to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes for The Piano, and the only two-time female Oscar nominee (including one win) for Best Director. Certainly, these prizes are monumental, but offer only a glimpse of the full depth of the idiosyncrasy, originality, and stylistic and tonal diversity that characterises her extensive body of work.

From the abrasive comedy of Sweetie and Holy Smoke to the lyrical melodrama of An Angel at My Table and Bright Star, to the genre-defying In the Cut and The Power of the Dog, Campion’s chief trademark as an auteur is her range – despite her unabashed feminism and the recurrence of strong-willed female characters, she proved to be an equally keen observer of masculinity in all its guises.

Jane Campion

Born in New Zealand to parents enmeshed in the country’s tightly knit theatre community, Campion grew up with an affinity for actors that would anticipate the surprising casting coups of her later work (Meg Ryan’s darkly carnal role in In the Cut, Benedict Cumberbatch as an aggressively macho ranch-owner in The Power of the Dog). She entered the Australian film industry while studying at AFTRS, where she made a series of exceptional short films including Peel, which won the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at Cannes in 1986.

From there, Campion began an extraordinary run culminating in the phenomenon of The Piano, and even then, used her platform to make films that confounded critics – at least many male ones, who Campion once cheekily described as a “mountain of corduroy you have to get through.”

Always a few steps ahead of the zeitgeist, with a profoundly interconnected body of work, it’s a thrill to offer audiences the chance to experience this diverse range of films that nonetheless tell one extraordinary girl’s own story.

Introduction by Melba Proestos.

Presented by Sydney Film Festival in association with ACMI and NFSA. 

For Full Details including session times and venues CLICK HERE




Crack out the teasing comb and a fresh can of hairspray for this recently restored cult classic that pops with ’60s kitsch, signature John Waters wit and the grooviest moves! 

John Waters

It’s the heyday of hairdos, Baltimore 1962, and Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) is desperate for a spot on the local teen dance show. Her successful audition ousts fan favourite and spoiled brat Amber, whose pushy stage parents (Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono) plot revenge. Meanwhile, with her friends and parents (Divine, Jerry Stiller), Tracy uses her newfound fame to rail against racial segregation on the show, causing chaos in the community, bordering on hysteria. 
Hairspray may appear a more mainstream offering from Waters, but this parody of teen and social-issues is underpinned by wickedly funny, subversive messages. Soak up the kitsch costumes, hoppin’ soundtrack and performances that drip with camp delight! TO BOOK TO SEE HAIRSPRAY CLICK HERE




Picture a cross between City of God and John Waters: this 1973 Brazilian classic’s mix of gangster grit, colorful camp and LGBTQIA+ pride is still ahead of its time. 

Antonio Carlos da Fontoura

Antonio Carlos da Fontoura’s wild romp through the underbelly of Rio de Janeiro has been beautifully restored for its 50th anniversary. Milton Gonçalves gives an astonishing performance as the titular Devil Queen, an imperious crime boss who is as fabulous as she is feared by her minions. When the Queen allows a treacherous partner (Nelson Xavier) to set up a cocky young rube (Stepan Nercessian) to protect her rackets (and her favorite handsome young dealer) from the cops, all hell breaks loose in a bloodbath of double-crosses and revenge. Pulsing with the tropical soul of Rio, funny and delightful but also lurid and violent, this unrestrained and unforgettable film (screened in Berlinale 2023) is still the wildest of rides. 

For information on screening details and venue CLICK HERE


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