Sgt. Schulz: How do you expect to win the war with an army of clowns?

Lt. James Skylar Dunbar: We sort of hope you'd laugh yourselves to death.

         Stalag 17 (1953)
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March Issue

Classic Film

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie

In March we are turning our attention to Australian films, with our screenings for the month focus on the First Nations people. We will also be running the second of our cafe screenings which features a film by the great Billy Wilder.

To mark this our eZine will feature stories on Australian film awards ceremonies, screen great David Gulpilil, and we are going to recognise two of the people who helped make Billy Wilder  such a brilliant filmmaker... co-writers IAL Diamond and Charles Bracket.

We hope you enjoy this month's eZine.
AACTA awards
Celebrating Australian films and filmmaking
Unless you follow Australian film closely, you might not have heard of the AACTA awards. What about the AFI Awards? Perrhaps you knew they were the same thing, but you'd be among the vast minority of Australians who did.

In contrast, most people have heard of the Oscars, which is a sad indictment on how much we really care for our domestic film industry. Or perhaps it is more indicative of how well Hollywood is able to sell us mountains trash among which they bury the odd gem. Or perhaps their ability to take those rare gems and use them to sell us the idea that all the world's best films are made in America (which they most certainly are not).

The Australian Film Institute (AFI) was established in 1958 when the AFI held Australia's first ever film excellence awards - the AFI Awards - and since then has remained committed to connecting Australian and International audiences with great Australian film and television content.

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) was launched by the AFI in August 2011 following a 12 month review and consultation.

The primary role of AACTA is to recognise, encourage, promote and celebrate film and television excellence in Australia through the nation's highest screen accolades – the AACTA Awards.

The AACTA Awards, a continuum of the AFI Awards, are the Australian screen industry's "stamp of success" – the Australian sequivalent of the Oscars and the BAFTAs.

                                               The AFI Award

Some of the key event in it's life include:

  • A group of Carlton film enthusiasts set up the AFI in 1958.
  • The AFI modelled its constitution on the BFI (British Film Institute).
  • The Melbourne Film Festival became an activity of the AFI from 1958 but they separated into two organisations in 1972.
  • The AFI did not receive any government funding until 1970.
  • The AFI was instrumental in the lobby for the 'revival' of Australian film in the 1970s.
  • The AFI funded films between 1970 and 1978 through the Experimental Film and Television Fund.
  • The Nine Network produced the first ever televised broadcast of the AFI Awards in 1976.
  • The AFI Raymond Longford Award was established in 1968 as the AFI's highest screen accolade, honouring such Australian icons as Peter Weir, Geoffrey Rush, Fred Schepisi, Jan Chapman, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, Jack Thompson, David Stratton and Reg Grundy, to name a few.
  • Dr George Miller, internationally acclaimed writer, producer and director, was announced as Patron of the AFI in 2001. Dr Miller's company, Kennedy Miller, also funds the Byron Kennedy Award, celebrating outstanding creative enterprise within Australia's film and television industries.
  • Cate Blanchett was announced as Ambassador of the AFI in 2001. Blanchett is the recipient of awards bestowed by the AFI, AMPAS, BAFTA and the Golden Globes.
  • The AFI launched a 12 month organisation review in 2010, which included a significant industry consultation in order to identify support for the establishment of an "Australian Academy".
  • Due to overwhelming support for an Academy model, the AFI launched the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts in Sydney in August 2011, announcing internationally acclaimed actor, Geoffrey Rush, as President of the Australian Academy.
  • The inaugural AACTA Awards were held in January 2012 and included the AACTA International Awards (held in Los Angeles – marking AFI | AACTA's first internationally-held Awards event), and the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards, held at the Sydney Opera House and broadcast nationally on Channel Nine.
  • The inaugural AFI Awards held in 1958 honoured six Award categories. Today the AACTA Awards (which are a continuum of the AFI Awards) recognise film, television and documentary screen craft excellence - including screenwriting, producing and acting, through to cinematography, composition and costume design - across more than 50 Awards.
A classic films program program wouldn't be complete without a healthy dose of Australian film - there are so many older Australian films to love, whether they won an AFI award or not. But it is impoprtant that we celebrate our wonderful screen cultuire, and hopefully the AACTA awards will continue celebrating great Aussie films and filmmakers.
Classic Film Stars

When, as a young boy, David Gulpilil first arrived at the mission school at Maningrida in Australia's North East Arnhem Land, he was already an accomplished hunter, tracker and ceremonial dancer. Unlike many indigenous people of his generation, Gulpilil spent his childhood in the bush, outside the range of Anglo-Australian influences. There, he received a traditional upbringing in the care of his family. When he came of age, Gulpilil was initiated into the Mandipingu tribal group  (Yolngu culture.) His totemic animal is the eagle and his homeland is Marwuyu. After appearing in his first film, he added English to several tribal languages in which he was already fluent.

Gulpilil's extraordinary skill as a tribal dancer caught the attention of British filmmaker Nicholas Roeg, who had come to Maningrida scouting locations for a forthcoming film. Roeg promptly cast the fifteen year old unknown to play a principal role in his internationally acclaimed motion picture Walkabout, which first screened in 1970. Gulpilil's on-screen charisma was such that he became an instant celebrity. He traveled to distant lands, mingled with famous people and was presented to heads of state. 

After his high profile performance in Walkabout, Gulpilil went on to appear in many more films and television productions. Perhaps the most renowned traditional dancer in his country, he has organized troupes of dancers and musicians and has performed at festivals throughout Australia including the prestigious Darwin Australia Day Eisteddfod dance competition, which he won four times. In addition to his career in dance, music, film and television, Gulpilil is also an acclaimed storyteller. He has written the text for two volumes of children's stories based on Yolngu beliefs. These books also feature photographs and drawings by Australian artists and convey Gulpilil's reverence for the landscape, people and traditional culture of his homeland. Gulpilil's latest artistic triumph is his appearance in an autobiographical stage production in March of 2004 at the Adelaide Festival of Arts 2004.

MIFF 2015 David Gulpilil Retrospective: Philip Noyce intro
Phillip Noyce introducing a David Gulpilil retrospective in Melbourne (2015)

David Gulpilil's work in film was recently celebrated by the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), and the introduction by Phillip Noyce to that retrospective can be viewed by clicking the video above.

David still works activelty in the arts, encouraging and supporting a whole new generation of indigenous Australian filmmmakers. He is a national treasure and we are very fortunate to have him and to have been able to see his work over many yuears.

Screenwriting  collaboration
Last month we sought to acknowledge perhaps the most important but also the most forgotten creative artists in filmmkaing - the screenwriter. This month we're turning our attention to two of Hollywood's most successful screenwriting collaborations.

Billy Wilder began his career as a screenwriter and reportedly turned to directing when he became tired of other directors making a mess of his scripts. In his years as a director, which produced a series of brilliant films, he frequently co-wrote the script. And in his most productive and successful years he had two key collaborators - Charles Bracket and I.A.L. Diamond

Charles Brackett

From 1936 until 1950, Brackett worked with Billy Wilder as his collaborator on thirteen movies, including The Lost Weekend (1945) and Sunset Boulevard (1950), which won Academy Awards for their screenplays. Wilder was the more profane of the two partners, while Brackett held to his upper-crust upbringing and was known as the "gentleman" of the two men. Their social and cultural backgrounds often clashed, but Brackett acknowledged later in his life that Wilder's baser instincts about human nature were invaluable to their collaboration. By the late 1940s, a schism based on personal, creative, and contractual differences, festering for many years, began to threaten the partnership.

Brackett and Wilder's professional partnership ended in 1950, after the completion of Sunset Boulevard. Brackett then went to work at 20th Century-Fox as a screenwriter and producer. His script for Titanic (1953) won him another Academy Award. He received an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1959.

I.A.L. Diamond

Diamond was born in Romania born and emigrated to the US with his parents at the age of name. He changed his name from Ițec (Itzek) Domnici tduring his college years - while studying journalism, he published articles in the Columbia Daily Spectator under the pseudonym "I. A. L. Diamond". He was editor of the humor magazine Jester of Columbia, and became the only person to single-handedly write four consecutive productions of the annual revue, the Varsity Show as well as a spare should they need one. On graduation he abandoned his plans to pursue his master's in engineering at Columbia and accepted a short-term contract in Hollywood.

He worked on a succession of short term contracts until he was picked up by 20th C Fox, working as a contract writer there from 1951 to 1955. He then made the move to freelance work

n 1957 he began a collaborative relationship with Billy Wilder on the movie Love in the Afternoon. From there, the pair had a string of hits with Some Like It Hot; The Apartment (which won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay), One, Two, Three; Irma la Douce; the Oscar-nominated The Fortune Cookie; the sex comedy Kiss Me, Stupid; and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

In total, Diamond and Wilder wrote twelve movies together over 25 years. Some of these films feature characters engaged in never-ending but friendly squabbling, such as Joe and Jerry in Some Like it Hot and Holmes and Watson in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Diamond's widow claims that these characters were based on her husband's relationship with Wilder.

Great creative collaborations often work best when the people in the team don't get along, when they argue and when they have frequent differences of opinion. That was certainly the case for Billy Wulder and the collaborations that made so many of his films truly great

Screening at The School of Arts

Friday, 11th of March

7.00pm start

The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (1977)

The true story of a part aboriginal man who finds the pressure of adapting to white culture intolerable, and as a result snaps in a violent and horrific manner.

Biography/ Crime/Drama     Rated:M      120 min
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Screening at The Cat's Meow Cafe

Saturday, 26th of March

7.00pm start

Stalag 17 (1953)

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.

Drama/ War      Rated:G      120 min
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Screening at The School of Arts

Saturday, 12th of March

7.00pm start

Walkabout (1971)

Two young siblings are stranded in the Australian Outback and are forced to cope on their own. They meet an Australian boy on "walkabout": a ritual separation from his tribe.

Adventure/ Drama     Rated: R       100 mins
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